Lord knows why developer Incog chose to follow up its well-received War of the Monsters with a mountain-bike racing game, but the company's fingerprints of quality are all over the place. Each of DL7s 27 mammoth tracks boasts intense attention to detail and gripping gameplay. As you race through dense woods in a torrential downpour, skirting sheer cliffs and dodging tree stumps, lightning shoots from the heavens and sets the forest aflame-- the game bristles with such crazy moments. And where other racers settle for a few hidden shortcuts, DD's mountainsides offer intertwining trails and plunging drops for derring-do (thanks to some spotless controls, even sliding past obstacles is pure pleasure). In fact, only a few minor missteps detract points from this otherwise perfect run. The cast of contenders is a case study of cliches (let's keep clowns named T-bag who scream "Dude!" in Kool-Aid commercials where they belong). I could also do without being bludgeoned by my rivals as I'm riding. But when the game is so damn fun, who cares?
What an awesome surprise-- DD wasn't even on my radar, but it deftly mixes Road Rash's two-wheeled combat with SSX's long and crazy downhill drops to create one hell of a rush. But even with its ridiculous speed and so much going on (pedestrians and wildlife fill the courses), you feel in complete control at all times. And among the Arcade and various Career modes, you'll find plenty to conquer. A few hiccups exist (you sometimes repeatedly respawn at a crash point), but otherwise, DO drips with quality.
Those two might be wowed by this supposed "SSXon mountain bikes," but I was let down--I loved SSX for its awesome synergy of racing and tricks. DD is all about speed, and its merely average tricks system doesn't provide much more fun than keeping your boost up during racing. Once I got over that, I enjoyed the massive, intricate worlds, and a couple creative modes--Moshbowl and Super Jump--also add depth. But if you're not a speed freak, this isn't for you.
Download Downhill Domination
In a world besieged by poor imitation extreme sports titles, Downhill Domination stands out as finally releasing gameplay that's different from the competition, even if only slightly so. Not, I repeat, not a rip off of the traditional Tony Hawk style gameplay, Downhill Domination combines the thrill of high speed racing with extreme sports biking and highflying stunt work. Presented in a deliciously palatable way, this might not be the best game for all sports fans, but it's well worth the purchase if you're looking for something outside the norm.
Gameplay itself is quite simply, relying on good stick work to control your character, which gets only slightly tougher when you throw in the stunt system. As is somewhat traditional, your shoulder buttons provide enough room for a variety of excellent tricks, which of course you can push to the max. I'm quite happy with the way the control worked out, as usually you've got a decent control over your character, and like a real bike, turning too hard can provoke a crash of the rather nasty sort. Powerups give you a variety of extra features, including progressively meaner attacks that you can use to disable the other riders. All in all, the fact that it's quick, easy, and only slightly related to its other racing cousins make this title really enjoyable. This might be overstating the fact, but I'd say this title most reminds me of SSX. It's part of the genre, but obviously not defined by it.
The graphics and audio are standard fare for a PS2 title, so much so in fact that I wouldn't advocate purchasing the game based on them. Instead, what I'd look at is the sheer volume of gameplay available to you. Downhill Domination has upgraded bikes, unique riders, and even unusual stunts you can pull off, but all of these pale in comparison to the fact that it has levels that are simply huge. I'd swear that I could let my character start down a track, go use the john, and by the time I get back, still have enough track left to catch up and beat the other players. Similar to the untracked course from SSX, you can also range far and wide over the course, following a variety of paths, finding little secrets in each one, like the Black Diamond path.
As all games must have, Downhill Domination does have a negative, given that it's not a perfect title. Quite difficult at first, with a learning curve that kept me frustrated a great deal of the time, this game definitely takes some patience to master. Add to this the fact that the bots are fairly well skilled themselves, and this isn't something that a newbie could just jump into and expect to kick ass at. Whether this is challenge or insanity is a decision I leave up to you.
Remarkably satisfied with this title, I'm going to consider this a game worth purchasing, with exception. It's got a few things that knock it down enough, but even if you're a casual fan of the extreme sports genre, I think that this game will offer what you're looking for.