Thanks to Activision and Neversoft, and of course Tony Hawk, the extreme sports genre has never been more popular. In turn, we’ve seen a lot of games created around the great success of the few good ones, many of them being half-assed look-alikes. However, there have been a couple of intriguing games to grace the PS2 such as SSX: Tricky and NBA Street. At any rate, the PS2 has only seen one must have BMX title: Dave Mirra 2. With Mat Hoffman 2 miles away, Midway definitely has a good chance to make a spark in this very scarce portion of the extreme sports genre.
One of the first things a company needs in order to produce a successful BMX game is a popular line-up of riders. What kind of riders will Gravity Games feature, you say? Mat Beringer, Jamie Bestwick, Andre Ellison, Reuel Erickson, Fuzzy Hall, Dennis McCoy (this dude is SICK! In a good way of course), and Leigh Ramsdell make up 7 of the riders. However, there are 21 riders in all, the other 14 have yet to be disclosed. But we can expect some of those riders to be typical Midway hidden characters, staff, clows, animals, and etc.
There are 11 wide-open environments. Some are based on authentic surroundings and the others around a fantasy setting where you can show off your tricks. Now when Midway says "wide-open" they really do mean wide-open. They’re vast in width and length, and they’re also huge as far as multiple floor levels per stage are concerned. You can actually drop down into lower areas from the initial track level, in which you can pull off even more insanely cool tricks and the such. In addition, the levels are filled with dozens upon dozens of interactive obstacles such as jumps, rails for grinds, and other commonly found things that will allow you to utilize some of the game’s 1,500+ tricks.
Midway has also incorporated a lot of variety in their game modes. There are a bunch in all; Freedride and Quickstart are the exhibition type modes where nothing really counts for or against you. Once you get the thick of things, you can duke it out in Career mode, which lets you take on all 11 levels with the rider of your choice. On the two player end, players have the choice of playing in High Five, Best Run, Horse, Graffiti and Team Attack. You can most likely expect a mode similar to Graffiti and Horse found in Activision’s extreme sports titles. Two player mode actually does look very promising and if in case the single-player mode falls short, gamers will have the multi-player mode to fall back on.
The graphics are coming along well to say the least. The level of detail is certainly there as the game's environments are quite vast in size. The intricately detailed shadow effects shown from the trees above and the shades of color in the sky are both wonderfully rendered. Furthermore, surface texturing is looking quite solid, despite the game's early state. Even better, Midway has taken a huge amount of time to motion-capture over 400 different tricks, making the overall sense the game delivers that much more genuine.
The soundtrack is currently intended to include over 40 (not a typo!) different tracks. And big names are of the abundance containing such bands as Sugar Ray, 311, and Disturbed. Midway is also packing Gravity Games down with an array of in-house tracks.
Midway has yet to venture into the world of BMX, or trick-style sports at all for that matter. But from the looks of it, Midway’s first endeavor into the freestyle bikes (BMX) genre is certainly shaping up into one worthy title. C’mon Midway! Let's see a winner. Because myself, along with the other BMX fans, sure are thirsty for one.
3/11/2002 Joseph Comunale