The Miracle Man is virtually
back, and this time Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 is bigger and better than before. It still
shares the crown of great BMX game with Mat Hoffmans Pro BMX. Neither of these
titles are perfect, and I look forward to improvements in the genre of BMX games, but each
has something to offer and making a decision between them can be tough. Fortunately, Mirra
is the only game in town for the Xbox, and while that is sure to change in the future,
right now Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 is the game to get if you love BMX and you need to
play it on your Xbox.
Fans of the original installment in the series will recognize
pretty much everything. Little has been changed, and that means that little has been
improved, so you can expect to find many of the same joys and frustrations you found on
the first Dave Mirra title. The graphics are still really nice, and even nicer on the
Xbox. The game still features a passel of pros, including Ryan Nyquist, Mike Laird, Joey
Garcia, and Colin Mackay. All these pros where licensed clothing and ride licensed bikes,
so theres plenty of reality here to get the average BMX fan into the game.
roll through ten levels: Woodward Camp, Trainyards, Swampy Trails, Commercial District,
Greenville, Galloon Water Park, HWY 47 Cloverleaf, Devils Peak, Airport Parking
Garage, and Venice. These levels are much bigger than in the last installment of Mirra. In
fact, they are so large that its sometimes tough to find what you need to find,
which can cause some frustrating moments. However, its impossible to get down on the
game for this the size of these levels provides an insane number of opportunities
for big tricks and a lot of fun. This works especially well in the multiplayer mode, where
it is never tough to get somewhere roomy to pull your best tricks.
are pretty much the same as they ever were. This is unfortunate. It is still too tricky to
get the timing of tricks correct, and the problem if rolling backwards on your bike
persists. Of course we want to be able to roll backwards on our bike, but there must be
some simpler way to get the rider to flip the bike around. On skateboarding games there is
always a button to change from switch to regular stance, why cant we have the same
in a BMX title? In a minor improvement over the last game (where you could spend days just
rolling around backwards trying to get your rider to change direction), Mirra 2 introduces
a function by which you can pull back on the joystick to stop your rider. Then, you can
pivot your rider to point the direction in which you want to travel, then press forward to
resume movement. This is a clunky solution and still needs work.
persistant frustration found in Mirra 2 is the way by which you unlock new levels. To
unlock the next level you must "clear" the current level. To "clear"
the level, you must complete all of the amateur and pro challenges. Then you can progress
to the next level, but you still havent beaten the current level. To truly beat the
game you must also beat the hardcore and insane challenges on each level. What it all
boils down to is that you spend way too much time on each level to open the next.
Completing some 10 or more challenges to make it to the next level slows you down a whole
lot. While I welcome the potential for a lot of challenges on each level, that potential
needs to be balanced with the ability to open up and enjoy the game as a whole. In Dave
Mirra Freestyle BMX 2, this balance is way off-kilter.
interesting improvement to Mirra 2 comes from adding challenges given to you by other
riders. You must impress them by completing a challenge they only tell you after
youve found them and asked them. Unfortunately, this sounds like a lot more fun than
it is. The riders themselves have nothing to do with the challenge you dont
have to follow them or mimic their tricks. So this change ultimately becomes just a more
tedious way of listing challenges. Rather than seeing all of the challenges you must
complete to progress in the game, you must seek out these other riders on the course just
to unlock a line of directions. If these rider-specific challenges had more to do with the
riders and your interaction with them theyd be a lot more fun.
major Xbox enhancement is the two additional levels not found in the PS2 version. This is
a great improvement, and I always welcome expanded or additional levels, especially in a
platform port. The graphics are improved over the PS2, but not as much as Id like to
see. While Mirra 2 is pretty, the graphics dont come anywhere near matching a game
like THPS2x. There is something about this game that looks very "Dreamcast", and
thats not such a good thing. Other titles, such as the Sega sports games, also
suffer from the "Dreamcast" vibe, which was beautiful on the DC, but at this
stage in the game just looks dated. This sense of temporal lag is heightened by the
partially recycled soundtrack, and where the soundtrack isnt recycled (such as
Sublimes "What I Got"), it just sucks. Maybe Im out of touch with
the BMX crowd, but the metal has got to go. Id like to see Mirra 3 take advantage of
the Xboxs soundtrack features and let me provide my own tunes.
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 is better than the first game, but still in need of serious
improvement. The positive side of this for the Mirra team is that every other BMX title
out there also needs serious improvement, so while it hurts our gameplay experience as
gamers, it doesnt hurt the ranking of the game in the genre. Mirra is still a viable
franchise, and I look forward to seeing the next installment, which could be a lot more