I have to admit this review was starting to get the best of me. Sitting here,
staring at the words "Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2," a flashing cursor, and all
the empty space that followed, I was feeling frustrated, even impotent. (Creatively
impotent, that is. Make no mistakeI am all man, baby. Except for my feminine side, I
am in touch with that
and my inner child. But in every other way, all man. Why, what
have you heard?) The last thing I wanted to do was spend two pages comparing yet another
game to Tony Hawk. I wanted to be cool and original. Then it hit me: there is nothing cool
or original about Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2. If the people responsible for the game
werent willing to go the extra mile, why should I?
So, how does Mirras second outing compare to the Birdman part 3? After
all, these are the versions that are available on the Gamecube. Let Xbox owners compare
Mirra 2 to Hawk 2. Well, Mirras in the ballpark, albeit somewhere way out in left
field. Hey, at least hes on the playing fieldJonny Moseley cant even get past security
(boy, did that game stink). Now that I have beat that metaphor to death, let me just say
that Mirra 2 really doesnt have any huge, glaring problems. It is more a matter of a
bunch of small flaws and frustrations, most of which are carried over from the first
title, dragging it down.
Mirra 2 has all the usual game play elements that we have come to expect from our trick
titles. There are plenty of real pros to choose from, including the Miracleman himself.
The bikes, gear, and sponsors are all true to life for the BMX aficionados out there. Slim
Jim has even included their "eat me" mascot guy as an unlockable character. I
was disappointed to see that there was no character creator, however. The pros are all
great, but there is nothing better than pulling off insane tricks with a character that
you have customized to look just like you, and nothing more painful than watching him or
her shatter every bone in his or her body on a nasty bail.
You can play in Proquest (10 levels, including 2 exclusive to the
GC and Xbox), Single Session (a timed run on any level), and Free Ride (go nuts with no
time limit). Mirra 2 tries to set its Proquest apart from other games by adding respect
points into the mix. Basically, the cooler you play, the more respect you earn from your
BMX compatriots. When you have earned enough respect points you will unlock new bikes and
gear, and eventually you will be invited to the award competitions. This is kind of cool
in that it takes that "impress x number of skaters" challenge and spreads it
over the entire game. My biggest complaint about Proquest is the way it presents its
challenges. They are tiered by difficulty: Rookie, Amateur, Pro, Hardcore, and Insane.
Each tier has up to four challenges, and you must complete all of them through Pro to move
to the next level. The problem is that you are not given all of the challenges up front.
Instead, you are given a short list of challenges that must be completed before you are
given new ones. And there are others that must be sought out from other riders. Now
obviously there are some challenges you will prefer over others, and it would be nice if
you could choose the ones you want from the start rather than having to repeat ones you
dislike over and over before you get to a good one. This is especially true when you have
to complete ten or more challenges to move to the next level. And some of them really are
lame. One challenge in the first level has you running all over the place trying to knock
over ladders. The ladders lead nowhere, there are no people on them to torment, and you
cant even trick off of them. You just bump into them and they fall over. Yippee.
For added replay value there are some 2-player games and a park
editor. The 2-player games revolve around completing stunts, getting the highest score, or
best of all, wipe out mode, where you try to achieve the biggest bail. There is also a BMX
game of HORSE. Unfortunately, the challenges are all turn based, so there is no
head-to-head action. The park editor is, of course, invaluable.
The trick system is deep enough, with trick modifiers and manuals. The instruction
booklet claims 1500 possible trick variations. I cant say that I tried them all.
Many, I am sure, differ so slightly as to be unnoticeable, but there are plenty of real
world and comically impossible tricks to choose from. The physics system that is
incorporated into these tricks is less than perfect, however. First of all, there is a lot
of mysterious guiding going on. The magnetic rails are back from the first title, as are
the tricks that seem to land themselves, and there are times when the game limits what you
can even try. For instance, no matter how much momentum I had, no matter how high I got,
the game simply would not let me attempt to do a double back flip. After one full rotation
your character just stops.
In most cases, the control set up works very well on the GC
controller. Pulling off a bunny hop, grind, flip, or wheelie is fairly intuitive. What is
not intuitive, however, and I cant imagine why, is stopping, turning in place, or
getting out of those damned infuriating back pedals. If you miss your target and want to
stop, turn, and line yourself up for another run, it takes forever. And every time my
character went into yet another unstoppable back pedal, I just about went into a frothing
gamers frenzy. This was a problem in the last title, why is it still here?
This games biggest bragging point is its huge levels. Indeed, the levels are
enormousat least three or four times bigger than your average trick title, I would
guess. This is great when you are playing Free Ride as it offers you a sprawling landscape
to explore, and a variety of places and things to ride and trick on. It is, however, a
pain in the butt when it comes to completing your challenges in Proquest. The game almost
warrants a radar system, as often times you are reduced to playing hide and seek over and
over again just to find the next rider or ladder or whatever (sorry, I cant get over
those stupid ladders). And, to be honest, a lot of what you find is just more of the same.
Sure, you can go from this barn near the pool to that barn way over there, but they both
just contain some variation of the same ramp and jump park.
The best word to describe the graphics is bland. The lack of
texture and detail does nothing to make the characters or those big landscapes at all
appealing. There are clipping problems everywhere. My character even managed to fall
through a ramp a couple of times. And some of the environment rendering is downright
laughable. There is a pool in the first level that looks great from a distance, but as you
approach it you begin to see something is amiss. The kiddie slide and beach balls are not
shrinking. Finally, you pull up right next to the slide and it is towering at least twenty
feet over your head! The first step on the ladder is even with your shoulder. And the
beach balls are taller than you. Who were these toys made for ("fee, fie, foe,
.")? Or better yet, what were the people making this game thinking?
In terms of sound, the game doesnt make much of an attempt at ambient noise,
though it would probably just be covered by the soundtrack anyway. As far as that goes, it
is decent. Some old stuff, some new, mostly butt rock.
When it comes right down to it, I really cant say that Mirra 2 is a terrible
game, or that you wont like it. I can say with complete confidence, however, that it
pales in comparison to your two other choices for trickin on the Cube: Tony
Hawk Pro Skater 3 and SSX Tricky. The little problems, and the overall blandness of this
game reduce it to rental fare only.