By: Jared Black
The mark of any
great and innovative new game is that it invariably breeds numerous
clones that attempt to mimic its success. Thatís the way the Mirra
series started out Ė as a BMX game that closely mimicked the Tony
Hawk series. And while it still does mimic it to a great degree,
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 shows that the series is finally starting
to mature and establish a place for itself in itís own right.
The most obvious
difference between this and Tony Hawk is the fact that this is a BMX
game. Much like Tony Hawk, Mirra features different real-life BMXers
(turned cult heroes courtesy of ESPN2) such as Dave Mirra, Ryan
Nyquist, Troy McMurray, Kenan Harkin, and several others. Each has
his own distinct characteristics, resulting in varied performance
from each in jumping, speed, tricks, etc. All of this is standard
for the extreme sports genre.
And again, much
like Tony Hawk, the primary game mode is the career mode (called
Proquest here). In the Proquest mode, youíll be given a variety of
different objectives to complete, all of which are aimed at earning
respect points. These objectives include things as mundane as
jumping over Gaps (borrowed from THPS) to things as weird as
knocking over ladders hidden throughout a level. As you earn more
and more respect points, youíll be able to upgrade to better
bikes, earn sponsors, etc. Each of these is earned at intervals of
5,000 respect points, with the ultimate goal being 50,000 total
mode is very deep and lengthy, but unfortunately itís plagued by a
couple key problems. First, objectives are often very vaguely
defined. If you arenít a biker, youíll often find yourself
scratching your head as to what youíre supposed to do next. Youíll
know when youíre in the general area of where an objective needs
to be pulled off (via blinking textures and on-screen text), but
actually pulling off the needed trick/action can be tricky if you
arenít down with the lingo. Obviously this game is aimed at bikers
(and Iím not biker), but there needs to be more of an effort to
hold the hands (at least early in the game) of idiots such as
The other major
problem with Mirra is tied into one of the gameís best features:
the levels. There are a total of 10 levels found here (2 of which
arenít found in the PS2 version), and all of them are
well-designed and full of things to do. Each of Mirraís levels
absolutely dwarfs the levels found in Tony Hawkís Pro Skater 3, or
any other "extreme sports" game for that matter. And of
course, the game also includes an excellent Park Editor that lets
you create virtually any kind of custom skate park you wish. The
sheer size of each level can also be a detriment, as a number of
levels require you to find things strewn throughout a level without
the aid of a radar or pointer. This results in a lot of frustration
as you blindly search for the things you need to complete each
Freestyle BMX 2ís biggest selling point however is the S.I.K.
Trick System. Through the use of trick modifiers, it incorporates
over 1,500 unique tricks, all of which can be pulled off fairly
easily once you get the basics down. Unfortunately, the hard part is
getting the basics down, as itíll take quite a while to master
controlling your biker through various situations. As Christopher
said in our PS2 review (link) of the game, itís definitely one for
the hardcore. Once you do master the basics however, it becomes
pretty easy to pull of some insane combinations of tricks. Since itís
based on the current orientation of your bike (grinding, stalling,
wall-rides, etc.) and acts realistically depending on the situation,
itís a pretty intuitive system that doesnít require a lot of
memorization. If youíre used to Tonyís simpler trick system it
will be quite a chore to adjust to this, but all in all itís a
wonderful trick system thatís even deeper and more rewarding than
Tony Hawkís is.
these great points to the gameplay, there are a couple minor
problems to be found. First, the physics arenít really sound.
Occasionally your bike will act in a manner totally different from
what it normally would in that situation and as you can imagine itís
very frustrating when that happens. How your rider reacts to objects
in the environment is also inconsistent, as sometimes just clipping
an object will send you crashing while hitting other objects head-on
will not. Also, the camera system needs tweaking. Whenever you crash
or come to a stop, itíll often reposition itself in front of you
forcing you to reverse the controls. Itís something you get used
to, but it still presents problem. The camera will also often get
stuck behind objects in the environment, obscuring the playerís
view of the rider for a couple of crucial seconds. These arenít
major problems, but they happen often enough that theyíre nagging.
The graphics are
a mixed bag. As I mentioned before, the levels are huge and very
detailed. Unfortunately, that results in some rather average
texturing and polygon models. Despite this, there are still problems
with pop-up, as objects fairly close will often just appear out of
thin air. Additionally, horizons will often draw themselves in front
of your eyes, which is distracting to say the least.
is excellent all around. The soundtrack is great, featuring bands
like The Cult, A Tribe Called Quest, Sum 41 (this yearís Band of
Choiceô for extreme sports games), and Godsmack. As odd of a
collection as this is, it really does work great in the context of
this game. The sound effects are also great, as everything sounds
realistic and crisp. The various bike sounds are good, if a little
lacking in variety. Environmental effects are wonderful however,
with plenty of sounds that react properly to distance and
- S.I.K. Trick
System is, well, sick in a very good way.
- Deep and
involving career mode.
sound effects package.
- Levels are
are often vague and/or elusive.
graphics for a GameCube game.
problems with the camera system and physics annoy at times.
general lack of polish, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 is an excellent
extreme sports game and a great alternative to Tony Hawk. Be
forewarned however that itís definitely only for those who donít
mind some frustration along the way, or those who are hardcore (and
I mean hardcore) BMX fans.