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Gravity Games Bike: Street, Vert, Dirt
Graphics: 7.1
Gameplay: 6.1
Sound: 8.9
Control: 5.4
Replay Value: 5
Rating: 5.7

  With Mat Hoffman 2 taking forever to release and Dave Mirra 2 being somewhat outdated now, Gravity Games Bike has been given the perfect opportunity to come out of nowhere, where competition is in short supply. Midway has tried its hand at many different sports, but extreme sports is a sub-genre that Midway hasnít had much experience with, and unfortunately, it shows well here.

   Gravity Games Bike doesnít make a very good opening impression, as the visuals are somewhat lackluster and blocky to boot. Some of the levels have a gritty look to them, and thatís what was meant, but they lack that crisp, finished look that competitors hold. The riders are average at best, too. But the fact that each level is so immense and that the framerate is always stable helps dim these graphical shortcomings.

   GGB is very lacking in the gameplay department. Other than Career, your only other options are Freeride and Quick Start, both of which are just there to introduce you to the gameís controls and play. Getting back to Career, it was pulled off quite well, except for the lack of variety. Hereís where the game just feels like a cheap rip-off of Tony Hawk. There are 10 objectives in each level, and almost all of them just bear too much resemblance to ones in Tony Hawk. Collecting G-R-A-V-I-T-Y is one of the more obvious ones, and another is smashing acid barrels, as oppose to smashing boxes in Tony Hawk. Thereís also an array of other objectives that have you doing some grind, making some big jump to an integral area, or pulling off a sick trick. GGB is replete with objectives in each level, ten in all, and some are very arduous tasks, which is why you get three minutes in each run.

   The single-playerís only worthy aspect is its Career mode, but multiplayer has a variety of modes to chose from, too. You can compete with your friends in several different modes, consisting of High Scores, Grind Attack, Best Run, High Five, Team Attack. While this area is plentiful of modes, this facet of the game lacks that flair that makes players want to play over and over. A few gimmick modes wouldíve been great, like, say, Capture the Flag, Tag, or something else that didnít just revolve around accumulating the higher score.

   On the good side of things, the ten levels are vast, diverse, and fun. The game covers a number of different locations, such as an acid factory, a train depot, an oil refinery, a couple museums, etc. In addition, each one has a massive size, composed of rooms, upper areas, alleys, hidden areas, and more. Also, the three types of surface are normally found in each level: dirt, vert, and street. So, while one part of the level is an open terrain with dirt hills, another section of the level will include street objects, such as ramps, poles, benches, and more. The levels were all laid out pretty creatively, as well, so going through them is pretty adventurous.

   Although traversing the levels and making transitions between ramps and jumps are pretty attention-holding, executing the tricks is a different story. With GGBís shoddy controls, itís quite frustrating trying to complete some of the objectives. The controls are set up basically the same as any other game in its genre: Triangle handles the grinds, while the square and circle buttons will perform the various holds and grabs. The downfall lies in the reliability, however. Doing tricks demands a very precise press of buttons amidst the air, and if you donít press the directional button and a grab button at the same time, nothing will happen. Moreover, executing the harder tricks requires a certain sequence of directional presses, followed by a grab button, which also sometimes fails to respond, and other times it does, but it doesnít activate the designated trick. This can become very problematic at times, very.

   While most areas are at or below average, Midway certainly stocked the game up with audio tracks. Not only does GGB boast over 50 different tracks, but the game also allows you do mix and edit the play list to your liking, so songs you donít want to hear donít need to be heard, and your favorites can be moved so that theyíll play first. Midway was pretty smart in giving you such freedom with the tracks, and thatís why this is easily the best part of the game. Other than this, there are also your traditional bumps and skids coming from the interaction between your bike and the environment, which are nothing new.

   Midway tried something new, and GGB has a great concept with great ideas behind it, although its numerous flaws flood any real longtime enjoyment with this game. With Mat Hoffman 2 coming out soon, Gravity Games Bike: Street. Dirt. Vert. is really a rental at best. However, thereís always a sequel, and if Midway can do some refining and upgrading, then we might just come upon another competitor in this minute sub-genre.

7/6/2002   Joseph Comunale