Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX

a game by HotGen Studios

Platforms: PlaystationPSXGBAPC

Genre: Sports

Overview

Activision O2 is peddling a game previously popular on PlayStation, now ported to the PC and powered by the renowned Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game engine; Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX delivers freestyle BMX entertainment to the desktop. Bikers can perform hundreds of tricks in vert, street, and dirt surroundings, including the same tricks Mat Hoffman does.

Mat Hoffman’s story began when he hooked up a ramp to a diesel truck and began touring county fairs. After developing many of today’s freestyle BMX stunts, he went on to found Hoffman Bikes and Hoffman Sports Association. He also bagged the Small Business Administration's Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Did I mention that he is the ten-time world vert champ and nicknamed "The Condor?" He’s not alone in the game. BMX enthusiasts will recognize several other big names such as Mike Escamilla, Dennis McCoy, Simon Tabron, Kevin Robinson, Joe Kowalski, Rick Thorne and Cory Nastazio.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

It’s all about fame and fortune, that is, the kind that comes from magazine covers. The player is faced with three varieties of gameplay: Career Mode, Single Session, and Free Ride. Eight parks are available in Career Mode, from New York to California to London and elsewhere. In order to play any other courses besides the first in any mode, the player must first "unlock" the courses in Career Mode. This is done by completing tasks such as smashing lights or spelling T.R.I.C.K. by overrunning each letter, after which the player is awarded a magazine cover. Due to the difficulty involved in winning covers (the number required increases with each level), unlocking can be problematic. If one crashes too many times, through the dizziness he will see the phrase: "You ride like a Grandma, press enter to continue." At this point the player is transformed into a grandmother character model atop an old timey bike with a basket attached to the handle bars. Quite hilarious. The game is also temporarily "unlocked" at this point. Besides the use of skill, grandmotherly tauntings can be avoided by tweaking bike hardware. Five components of each player’s bike can be adjusted: forks bars, sprocket, freewheel, and tires. These adjustments allow the player to customize the bike to suit his favorite stunts. It’s worth mentioning that the game loads very fast and runs smooth. No installation difficulties or in-game errors showed up.

The heart and sole of Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX is in the myriad of tricks that can be performed. These stunts are the ones actually performed by the pros and are represented by a high level of detail in graphics and physics modeling. Typically, grinding tricks are difficult to pull off while the air tricks are easiest. Combining tricks is where one gets the big point gains. Each player has his own unique set of moves. With names like Indian Air Superman, No-Footed Candybar One Hander, and Backflip Tabletop, one can imagine the level of action present. One might assume that to perform hundreds of stunts, the player would have to use large numbers of complicated keyboard commands like Alt+Ctrl+F1. Yet, the play controls are simple. Only four basic movement keys exist: pedal, brake, turn left and right. The other eight key commands are assigned for tricks. It may be said that the learning curve is low, but remembering which trick results from which combination of keys is not for those with low memory ability.

Multiplayer

After repeatedly finding no host servers when searching for Internet games, it soon became clear to me that the Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX simply supports network play over a LAN. The game types are Graffiti, a tag game wherein players steal the opponent’s tags by out-tricking him, and Trick Attack, a timed competition for creating the best lines. Another multiplayer game type, Horse Game, uses the old basketball horse game motif. Instead of shooting hoops, the player tries to match or beat the previous players trick. If the trick score is lower, the player receives a letter until someone spells H.O.R.S.E. This one is played by two competitors in the same location, not over a LAN connection.

Level Editor

The Park Editor should cause the PC version to really shine. I was pleasantly surprised to create and test my own park in less than five minutes! The simple and intuitive graphical interface allows the creator to drop in such things as risers, quarter pipes, walls, stairs, and ramps. All this is saved in a small file for distributing to friends or anyone over the Internet. Five pre-made parks are available for use as templates. Most have an urban theme except for Technopolis, which includes textures of gray pipes and wires reminiscent of the Duke Nukem milieu.

Graphics

Don’t touch that escape key. This is one of the rare games for which the introductory video is worthy of viewing. Camera shots of the Hoffman Bike factory course in Oklahoma are followed by lots of wild stunt action including footage of BMXer’s riding off a huge cliff and falling into a huge canyon. The game art represented typical urban stunt environments and courses well. The few forgivable distractions were the ubiquitous four-pronged tree sprites that appear in almost every game except space sims and a bit of 3D character overlapping. In particular, I fancied the ghetto neighborhood art.

>

Audio

"Umf!" quickly became the most commonly heard sound. Even Grandma "umfed" in her own distinct voice. A constant low grinding pedaling sound can also be heard as the biker moves forward. The music department carried a repertoire of well-produced alternative and hip-hop selections (complete with recording scratching effect).

System Requirements

Windows 95/98/2000/ME, Pentium II 266 MHz or Higher, 64 MB RAM, 550 MB HD, 8 MB 3D Graphics Accelerator card, and a 4X or faster CD-ROM.

Bottom Line

When I think of BMX, I think of knobby-tired bicycles in rugged rural areas fighting for the lead on thick dirt tracks, out-jumping my opponent off the mound, and banking ahead off high berms, all the while testosterone swirling within. In short, I think of racing competition. The all tricks and no racing approach of Mat Hoffman Pro BMX didn’t work for someone who admits a bias toward checkered flags like myself. No heartfelt sense of victory remained after the beauty pageant had ended. A more comprehensive motocross biking game might have included racing, not just freestyle. A great example of this racing and stunt fusion occurs in the Motocross Madness series by Microsoft. For stunt loving bikers who need a tough challenge however, Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX is no cheap trick, but a serious and worthy game.

Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX Downloads

Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX download

Overview

Finally a chance to catch major air without the threat of a prolonged hospital stay. Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX lets you ride like 10-time world vert champion Mat "the condor" Hoffman or seven other of the sport's hottest riders.

Pro BMX uses the same engine as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, so fans won’t have any trouble catching on quickly. But don't worry, Pro BMX isn't a rip-off either. There are enough subtle differences to keep the game fun, without making it hinky for die-hard Pro Skater fans.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The object of the game is to do enough tricks, collect enough magazine covers (the same thing as videotapes in Pro Skater), and break enough stuff to earn entry into the higher levels and harder tracks.

The heart of Pro BMX centers on the trick system. As in Pro Skater, tricks are performed with a combination of button taps -- it will take fans a bit to adjust to the new physics, which change drastically to compensate for the board to bike change. Also don't forget it takes a bit longer to hop back onto a bike after a fall than to snatch your board.

The game has 25 base moves, including Rocket Air, Crooked and Toadstool, divided into quick tricks, big air tricks and grinds. Add to that each character’s seven to ten signature moves and you have a whole lot of style hitting courses. In just about all of the modes of play, your primary goal will be to get tons of points. You earn points by racking up tricks -- hit enough tricks in a row and you're in the Zone and you will be able to perform your special tricks and go a lot faster

The modes in the game follow Pro Skater pretty closely, with you being able to choose from career, single session, and free ride modes in single player games and graffiti, horse, and trick attack in the multiplayer modes.

The mainstay of the game, career, has you trying to accomplish pre-defined goals to earn magazine covers. Most of the levels contain five covers and the goals usually include breaking score levels, picking up floating letters to spell out the work TRICK, breaking five things, and finding a hidden cover. The more covers you earn, the more levels you unlock and the better stats and bikes you get to play with.

The game also features a pretty robust course editor which lets you hammer out detailed rides with over a hundred different variations of ramps, rails, funboxes, and other obstacles. A neat feature lets you save the course to a memory card so you can bring it over to a friend's house to share.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer split screen can be hard to get used to and the games, frankly, aren't really worth the effort. In horse and trick attack you basically take turns trying to one up each other. Graffiti has you tricking off objects to tag them and the person with the most tags at the end of the time limit wins.

Graphics

The graphics in Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX still look pretty good for a PlayStation game, but don't expect any departures from the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater level of graphics. What is amazing is the incredible size of most of the levels. Some of the games eight streets, vert, and dirt courses seem to stretch on for miles. Pro BMX also enjoys the same bone-jarring level of realism as its predecessor. You'll be groaning every time you pop out of a Superman too soon and land on your head. Ouch!

Audio

Pro BMX has excellent ambient and special effect sounds -- add to that the incredible music selection and you will be blown away. Among the 18 artists included in the game are Pennywise, Deltron 3030, Outkast and Apocalypse Hoboken. I wish I could slap this bad boy into my car stereo.

Cool Features

Look out for hidden characters. I was trying to perfect a string of tricks off a mobile home when I unlocked the Granny character. Of course the game alerted me to this discovery by telling me I ride like a granny... so I'm guessing my awful performance at the time may have something to do with unlocking the Granny.

Bottom Line

Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX may not be revolutionary in design or gameplay, but why fix something if it ain’t broken? Smooth gameplay, great sound, and sharp graphics make this game a definite keeper. Besides we all need something to do while we wait for Tony Hawk 3 to hit the streets.

reggie posted a review

Overview

Finally a chance to catch major air without the threat of a prolonged hospital stay. Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX lets you ride like 10-time world vert champion Mat "the condor" Hoffman or seven other of the sport's hottest riders.

Pro BMX uses the same engine as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, so fans won't have any trouble catching on quickly. But don't worry, Pro BMX isn't a rip-off either. There are enough subtle differences to keep the game fun, without making it hinky for die-hard Pro Skater fans.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The object of the game is to do enough tricks, collect enough magazine covers (the same thing as videotapes in Pro Skater), and break enough stuff to earn entry into the higher levels and harder tracks.

The heart of Pro BMX centers on the trick system. As in Pro Skater, tricks are performed with a combination of button taps -- it will take fans a bit to adjust to the new physics, which change drastically to compensate for the board to bike change. Also don't forget it takes a bit longer to hop back onto a bike after a fall than to snatch your board.

The game has 25 base moves, including Rocket Air, Crooked and Toadstool, divided into quick tricks, big air tricks and grinds. Add to that each character's seven to ten signature moves and you have a whole lot of style hitting courses. In just about all of the modes of play, your primary goal will be to get tons of points. You earn points by racking up tricks -- hit enough tricks in a row and you're in the Zone and you will be able to perform your special tricks and go a lot faster

The modes in the game follow Pro Skater pretty closely, with you being able to choose from career, single session, and free ride modes in single player games and graffiti, horse, and trick attack in the multiplayer modes.

The mainstay of the game, career, has you trying to accomplish pre-defined goals to earn magazine covers. Most of the levels contain five covers and the goals usually include breaking score levels, picking up floating letters to spell out the work TRICK, breaking five things, and finding a hidden cover. The more covers you earn, the more levels you unlock and the better stats and bikes you get to play with.

The game also features a pretty robust course editor which lets you hammer out detailed rides with over a hundred different variations of ramps, rails, funboxes, and other obstacles. A neat feature lets you save the course to a memory card so you can bring it over to a friend's house to share.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer split screen can be hard to get used to and the games, frankly, aren't really worth the effort. In horse and trick attack you basically take turns trying to one up each other. Graffiti has you tricking off objects to tag them and the person with the most tags at the end of the time limit wins.

Graphics

The graphics in Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX still look pretty good for a PlayStation game, but don't expect any departures from the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater level of graphics. What is amazing is the incredible size of most of the levels. Some of the games eight streets, vert, and dirt courses seem to stretch on for miles. Pro BMX also enjoys the same bone-jarring level of realism as its predecessor. You'll be groaning every time you pop out of a Superman too soon and land on your head. Ouch!

Audio

Pro BMX has excellent ambient and special effect sounds -- add to that the incredible music selection and you will be blown away. Among the 18 artists included in the game are Pennywise, Deltron 3030, Outkast and Apocalypse Hoboken. I wish I could slap this bad boy into my car stereo.

Cool Features

Look out for hidden characters. I was trying to perfect a string of tricks off a mobile home when I unlocked the Granny character. Of course the game alerted me to this discovery by telling me I ride like a granny... so I'm guessing my awful performance at the time may have something to do with unlocking the Granny.

Bottom Line

Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX may not be revolutionary in design or gameplay, but why fix something if it ain't broken Smooth gameplay, great sound, and sharp graphics make this game a definite keeper. Besides we all need something to do while we wait for Tony Hawk 3 to hit the streets.

reggie posted a review
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