Freestyle MetalX Preview
The extreme sports genre shows no signs of slowing down, despite some recently released games showing less-than-stellar sales results. Freestyle MetalX, the latest attempt at breaking into the genre by Midway, tries to add a hard-rocking angle to go with a more wide-open game layout which relies less on timed runs and more on exploration and familiarizing players with their surroundings. Preliminary screens have looked pretty good thus far, and things are looking positive for the game at this point.
Like most other extreme sports games, Freestyle MetalX's Career Mode will likely get the lion's share of a player's attention. Players must choose one of a handful of original motocross riders to embark on a career path with, and then will be presented with a series of challenges which can be completed in any order. The challenges appear to the usual fare: knocking over certain objects, doing certain tricks, item collecting, and so on. As players accomplish these objectives, previously locked areas will open. In order to access these unlocked areas, rather than have to do so via a menu, players can simply ride towards the new area and exit the current area. The idea here is that each area of the game is connected, so that you're riding in one giant location with different settings and surroundings, and each area can be accessed without loading. There are slated to be eight different areas, and it will be interesting to see how that works out in the final version.
Aside from the standard objectives, competitions will also be scattered throughout the game's levels and will pit players against real-life motocross talent. Big air contests, freestyle scoring events, straight races, and hill climbs will become available to players as they compete against the likes of talent including Ronnie Faisst, "Mad" Mike Jones, and seven other professionals. As players win these events, they earn money for upgrading their rides and also unlock the pros for use later in the game. Players will also earn the way through the ranks of reputation, all the way up to Legendary status.
Midway is promising a heavy metal atmosphere for the game, and has indicated that tracks from such metal groups as Motley Crue, Megadeth, Motorhead, and Twisted Sister will be on the game's edgy soundtrack. There is also slated to be some slick DVD content showcasing some of the game's pros doing their thing. All in all, this appears to be an interesting package with a fair amount of potential—and it's likely going to better than Midway's last attempt at this genre, which was the disappointing Gravity Games title from a year ago.
We'll have a full review of this game soon after its release, which is slated for late June.
6/9/2003 Peter Skerritt