In an age when being
"unique" means having the same cool body piercing that everyone else has,
MTVs latest offering fits right in. T.J. Lavins Ultimate BMX attempts to bring
another alternative sporting experience to the console world, but if youre looking
for the next greatest thing, Im afraid youll just have to look somewhere else.
basically set up like Tony Hawk, so if youve played the "master-skater"
you know what this game is like with one small difference. It just doesnt go the
mileage. The game is set up with a pro-circuit, practice session, two player mode and
about 16 courses (eight each in pro and two player with some overlap) of "dirt,"
"vert," and "street" to choose from. You are given different
objectives to achieve in each level, as well as the usual nabbing of MTV icons (gratuitous
publisher promotion) and collecting points by performing tricks. As you progress through
the pro-circuit, you earn sprockets and unlock the courses for practice and two player
modes. You are also able to unlock an extra MTV level if you "get the gold" in
previous events. There are ten different riders with varying skill levels for each type of
course (Matt Beringer, Fuzzy Hall, Dave Friemuth, Chris Doyle, James Bestwick, Brian
Foster, Chris Duncan, Mike Ardelean, Colin Winkleman, and, of course, T.J. Lavin) and each
is supposed to have an advantage in specific courses because of those stats.
first and most obvious problem with the game is the graphics. The environments are
extremely pixilated and really arent that large or detailed. The riders lack detail
as well and look like they all came down with the polygon plague. When Id pummeled
my rider to black and blue, his face looked more like a squished pepsi can than a human
face. However, I might have overlooked these issues if the gameplay had been something new
and interesting. Alas
levels in the pro-circuit arent very large nor are they terribly imaginative. And
all the objectives are variations on a theme I had seen before (set off car alarms, pick
up icons, do tricks for points, etc.) The two player mode was the one place I really
thought the game attempted to pump itself up. There were ten different options including
everything from turf war and a modified king-of-the-hill to hot potato with a bomb. The
problem that these otherwise fun games run into is a problem with frame rate in the two
player mode, which causes disorientation, loss of control during tricks, and some serious
problems telling where the heck you are in your environment. As you might have guessed,
that gets really old, really fast.
As far as control in the rest of the game went, this title actually didnt do too
badly. The tricks are easy to master and I feel like the control is pretty responsive.
Bike, body, and surface tricks are simple combinations of the action and directional
buttons that are easy to pick up and dont require a separate manual to list all the
possibilities (you know the type of game Im talking about here). There isnt a
lot of difference between the riders; the most obvious is the ability to get air and the
"lightness" of the bike. If there is a difference as far as dirt/vert/street, it
is pretty minor. On the plus side, the camera does a great job of keeping up on the stunts
and the game features a full replay of your ride at the end.
the strongest parts of this game are the sound effects and musical score. The crunch of a
bad wreck really is a beautiful thing! And the score continues in the Hawk tradition by
featuring a great mix of alternative and heavy metal music that is a great backdrop for
the game. Although most of the artists arent groups I am familiar with, MTV really
did what it does best in picking out new talent. I would categorize the groups as ranging
from Green Day to Pantera wannabes, but the songs are good. The only downer here is that
some of the music was edited for language. I guess what that does is give younger kids a
sense that theyre being transgressive and wild while not getting the game in trouble
with their parents.
I think that the most fun in this game is just opening up levels to ride around in the
practice mode. The options in the pro circuit just arent very exciting (nothing new,
just a range of objectives for the juvenile delinquent to the moderately imaginative trick
rider) and didnt have the kind of range that other titles out there have. Granted,
Ive played worse titles of this kind than Ultimate BMX, but Ive also been
lucky enough to play better. No matter how good the game might have been on its own merit,
the bar has been set, and you can never forget the feeling of playing something really
cool and innovative. I think unless youre just totally enamored of the BMX thing,
youd be better served with a little something of the skate-punk variety (nudge,
nudge, wink, wink).