Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX
It's just like the PS version only better-looking and faster--60 frames per second to be exact. In case you missed our preview in the September issue, here's the scoop on this fall release from Acclaim. Ten riders including Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist are available for Street, Vert and Dirt action. A special trick modifier allows up to 1300 possible moves, and new crash technology makes each wreck look different than the last.
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Ever since 3xtreme let us bounce around on a BMX bike, producers and gamers alike have been drooling over the possibilities of the agile little two-wheeler. Oddly enough it took a couple skateboard games to provide the means. Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX uses Thrasher's engine while Activision's Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX takes advantage of the celebrated Tony Hawk engine. What sets Dave Mirra's game apart from Mat Hoffman's? Here's what the folks at Acclaim had to say, "Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX has a trick modifier that enables the player to do 1,300+ tricks and combos. Hoffman has about 100 default tricks. Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist motion-captured all of the moves in our game so they would be authentic to BMX. Hoffman's tricks are animated. Our game also has a unique Skeletal Dynamics Crash System that reacts to the environment so no two crashes are ever alike. Hoffman's game has nothing like it. We have 10 pros and 12 levels while Hoffman's game has eight pros and nine levels." Sounds good, but is it the whole story?
Having played early versions of both, we noticed a few notable differences as well. In Mirra's trick system the "X" button is not an accelerator. Instead, it's pressed just before a jump and released at the top for maximum height. In Hoffman's game it's held down as a momentum builder in preparation for the big ramps (similar to Tony Hawk). Needless to say, it took us a few tries to get familiar with the system. That's not to say it's not as intuitive, just different.
Mirra's trick modifier is a bright spot in the game. Launch off a ramp or other like object, perform a move, hit the "0" button in flight and tack on a few more. It's intuitive and pretty easy to master on a basic level. Exploiting all the tricks will take some time however. The developers hope it'll keep gamers motivated for the long haul.
Obviously the biggest question on everyone's mind is: Is it as fluid and intuitive as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater? Unfortunately it's just too darn early to tell. The best we can say is, it's not quite as natural feeling as Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX but it's very competent in its own right.
Fans of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, listen up: DMF BMX has some cool features that set it apart. Players choose from Dave Mirra and other freestyle pros, taking their rider from chump to champ, earning sponsors, better equipment, and new bikes along the way. Spend some time ripping your own lines through the different courses (even Camp Woodward's famous Lot 8) and you'll discover secret areas throughout the game. Are the basic tricks not insane enough for you? Pull a hand or foot off in mid-stunt using the modify button, or modify the modifiers for no hands and no feet! Using analog control also allows players to adjust their speed as well as freeze their rider in mid-trick to pan the camera around in a cool instant-replay mode. Acclaim is even trying to fit in a snapshot feature so you can save a grab of your superman to show off to your friends. There are also 10 different multiplayer modes including Sickest Trick and Longest Grind, so players don't have to go it alone.
Helmet: check. Knee Pads: check. Elbow Pads: check. Total lack of sense and concern for well being: check. Okay, we’re ready to do some sick and twisted BMX riding courtesy of Acclaim sports. Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX was such a smash hit for the PlayStation that it was ported over to the PC for all you fans of BMX to enjoy. If you’ve played the PSX version, then you pretty much know what you’re in for, but if you’re new to this sport, then you’re in for a real treat. You get to assume the identity of ten different professional BMX riders -- doing awesome tricks over a variety of riding venues. There is no multiplayer, but the game has immense replay value, which we will discuss later. Okay, let’s get you riding!
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX puts you on the seat and behind the handlebars of a "freestyle BMX" bicycle. Riding as Dave Mirra, Mike Laird, Leigh Ramsdell, Chad Kagy, or six other professional BMX riders, you get an intense, 3rd person view. The goal of the game is to complete all 12 levels and, obviously, the first levels are easier. Before long, you’ll be staying up till 3:00 A.M. trying to learn all 1300 different tricks. I found myself getting stoked when I would be trying to pull off a jump and, all of a sudden, in the wee hours of the morning, I could finally do it! Bam! The level was shredded! (I should mention that you must have a control pad, I just can’t see you having as much fun trying to work the keyboard. Plus, I found I started really grooving when I was using a gamepad.)
You’ll find all difficulty levels in this game, from very easy to "staying up until 6:30 in the morning" challenging. The first six levels let you learn tricks and achieve objectives so you can get better bikes and cool new clothes. The last six levels are competition levels in which you compete against nine other computer riders, so you better have your stuff ready. I noticed that when I got to the competition levels, the game became as addicting as Rice Crispy treats.
Originality / Cool Features
I think the coolest feature in DM Freestyle BMX has got to be the many different and varying courses you can ride. One minute, you’re riding in a cement and plywood skate park and the next you’re pulling sick, nasty air over huge dirt jumps. The game also gets high marks for originality because, if memory serves me correctly, I don’t remember seeing a BMX game for the PC before this.
I was pretty blown away by the 3D graphics and how fluid they are considering they’ve been ported over from the PlayStation. The opening movies are pretty bad (pixilated), but once you get into the actual game, you’ll be quite happy. After 70+ hours of playing, I did notice several glitches. Occasionally, the rider gets stuck, falling through the map. Or, my personal favorite, sometimes the rider embeds himself in a rail or box. DO NOT LET THIS BOTHER YOU. The game is way too much fun to let those few things take away from the game (not to mention these glitches don’t happen very frequently). I really started to enjoy the graphics when, later in the game, I got to ride in a re-creation of an actual skate park in San Jose, Calif. The rails, spines, and fun boxes looked awesome, as did the vert sections. I also enjoyed the outdoor riding sections, but the graphics just looked better in the indoor sections. The bike and rider detail is very nicely done. You’ll notice shadows and see the spokes spinning on your bike wheels. So all in all, I would have to say "Great job!" What the graphics may lack is made up for by the sheer fun of the game.
Music soundtracks tend to get very stale when playing a game over and over. I normally wind up just shutting down the audio and throwing on one of my own CDs. I’m very happy to report that you won’t have to do that for "DM Freestyle" because the soundtrack kicks some major booty. Whoever picked the music was right on the nose because it just makes you want to ride like a demon let loose from hell. You’ve got Rancid, Sublime, Dropkick Murphys and many more bands. I’ve played the game for well over 70 hours and have not gotten sick of the music yet, which is very rare for me. Heck, I even went out and bought a few CD’s from the bands that appear on the soundtrack for the game.
Pentium-200 or equivalent, Win 95, 32 MB RAM, 3D Accelerator, 270 MB Hard Drive Space, and a Sound Card.
There isn’t a whole lot to the manual in DM Freestyle BMX but there really doesn’t need to be. The toughest thing to learn in the game is all the different trick combos, but that just comes from practice. The manual does explain all the different game types within the game, provides brief overviews of the tricks and, of course, it contains the standard installation section.
This will be a very simple bottom line! GO BUY THE GAME NOW! I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time playing just a single game. I would constantly find myself thinking "Hmmm, maybe I should turn the computer on and see if I can pull off that triple backflip" or "If only I would’ve done that no-footed can-can, I would have scored a 90." Just ask my wife. We would be sitting at the dinner table and she would look over at me with that evil eye and say "You’re thinking of that @#!$% game again aren’t you?"
If you are into action sports, then Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is a definite must have. On that note, I will give this game an 89/100. Now I’m off to ride and see if my wife will speak to me again. Ride hard! Ride safe!