reviews\ Sep 7, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 - XB - Review

Activision O2 is making quite a name for itself in the extreme sports genre, and if you’re a fan like me, the more titles they release the better.  So when a sequel to Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX was announced (and for the Xbox too), this extreme sports gamer couldn’t help but smile.


The Mat Hoffman series draws its inspiration from the Tony Hawk series and this sequel comes close to Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 in most aspects.  The playing world, for instance, is massive and is filled with many things to interact with as well as hidden items to uncover.  Completing a set of challenges opens new challenges that gamers need to complete before moving on to the next location.


Four playing modes make up the Mat Hoffman experience: Road Trip, Session, Free Ride and Multiplayer mode.  Session is basically a single level ride that gives you a timer option (choose from two, five or ten minutes) and allows you to beat the best time before the timer runs out.  Free Ride is a good way to get to know the controls and the various tricks before attempting the main mode, Road Trip.


Road Trip has you choosing any of the twelve riders--all of them, like legends Mat Hoffman or Kevin Robinson, are well-known in the Pro BMX circuit--and taking them through a set of challenges in the starting location until you earn enough Road Trip Points to move on to another city.  And there are nine cities in total (from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas), all of them with their own unique challenges and charming points of interest . . . and you are the one who decides which one to unlock next!


The final playing mode is the Multiplayer mode, which offers a number of two player games such as Graffiti War, Trick Attack, Tag, Horse, Push, Free Ride, Treasure Hunt and Halfpipe Hell.  With so many choices you can’t help invite a number of friends over since both Horse and Halfpipe Hell can allow up to eight players in a take-your-turn kind of deal.  


Mat Hoffman’s controls can be a bit tricky at first but it’s nothing a quick review of the instruction manual and few times around Free Ride couldn’t correct.  There are a number of new tricks in the long mix of grinds, rocket airs and grabs.  There’s even a trick that has you standing on your bike’s seat.  While the tricks are great, this game is about challenges and the challenges range from knocking down storage bins to making X amount of points.


Graphics-wise, Mat Hoffman is a really good-looking game and it does make full use of the Xbox’s graphics abilities.  Each environment is filled with so many things to interact with--although, sadly enough, it doesn’t get as detailed as Aggressive Inline.  There are certain spots in the game that are empty and will leave gamers thinking there should be something here . . . anything . . . even a simple ramp would do.  But thankfully the characters look amazing and even more so as they perform their daring yet incredible feats. 


The music in the game is a mixed bag of several different musical genres such as hip-hop, alternative, old school rap and some heavy rock tunes.  Some gamers might find it unusual to find Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” followed by Ice-T’s “Reckless” all in the same soundtrack.  And while the tunes are great at getting you into the game, the choice to add your own song would have been greatly appreciated.


If you’re a die-hard fan of extreme sports then this is a solid investment for you Xbox owners, although there was still more room for improvement. I suggest gamers rent this one before thinking about buying it.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.8
The controls can be a bit difficult to manage, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to concentrate on performing the more complicated tricks.  Just like David Mirra BMX Racing 2, you can perform tricks (such as one-handed no-footers) and control direction of the landing.  Yet troubling is the fact that landing isn’t as easy as looks thanks to the camera. Other flaws in the game is the fact that you can get stuck in a narrow corner (you’ll know you’re stuck when your rider’s head vanishes into the wall).


Graphics: 8.1
Mat Hoffman’s graphics are also an improvement from the original game and while there are a lot of vacant areas in each environment, the overall surroundings are just large and heavy on the details.  Casinos in Las Vegas are alive with flashing lights and all the glitz and glamour you’d expect from the street of the Sunset Strip.  The textures in buildings and vehicles are some of the best seen in a Xbox game.


Character models are also excellently down and their realistic movements are truly amazing . . . amazing enough that when you see a rider fly off his bike and slam against a surface (let the bloodletting begin), you won’t help but wince at the awful aftermath.  Also, if you’re familiar with each Pro, you’ll be impressed how close to the real thing each rider has been rendered.  Mat Hoffman really looks like Mat Hoffman. 


Sound: 7.8
There is quite an interesting mix of tunes that make up the game’s soundtrack but the diversity of the playlist might not sit well with others that feel LL Cool J and Suicidal Tendencies should not be seen together let alone share a soundtrack.  If you can overlook the crossing of musical genres, the songs are actually pretty good. There are no big sound effects to speak since all you can hear is heavy pedaling and the occasional grunt when your rider falls.


Difficulty: Medium
It’s easy pulling off basic tricks such as some flatland tricks, grinds and air tricks, but it’s the landings that can be frustrating--especially when performing air tricks.  Leveling the bike in mid-air isn’t as easy as it looks and neither is performing the trickier manuals.


However, the difficulty isn’t in being able to successfully land an especially elaborate trick but successfully meeting each challenge.  Some challenges have you collecting five floating gas canisters or looking for the keys to the van.  In order to complete each challenge, you must either search the environment thoroughly or perform extreme tricks.  You start at the amateur level and work your way to a Pro level where the challenges become increasingly difficult to complete.


Concept: 8.0
The improvements are undeniably noticeable from its predecessor in the hundreds of new tricks that look spectacular when you happen to pull them off successfully and the various new locales. And exclusive to the Xbox is an all-new location and an extra hidden rider gamers get to unlock. Oh the thrill of finding exclusive hidden treasures!


There are also quite an extensive amount of video clips for each Pro that are worth unlocking if you’re interested in the lives and insight of pros like Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla. And, of course, there is the Create A Park option that has enough goodies to create a worthy park for you to practice on.


Multiplayer: 8.0
There are seven multiplayer modes that two players can happily jump into split-screen style.  Many of them have been seen and done before in the Tony Hawk series while others are original.  For instance, the Push game has you playing against a friend, pulling off as many tricks as possible until your opponent’s screen becomes small enough that the winner fills the entire screen.  And then there’s Halfpipe Hell where you make your way up a mountain of vert ramps until you reach the top without falling into the lake of fire.


Overall: 7.7
Mat Hoffman Pro BMX 2 is a worthy sequel and a ride worth taking if you’re a devoted extreme sports gamer. There are plenty of challenges, huge playing environments and highflying tricks to give extreme sports gamers their money’s worth, but there are also a few flaws that can’t be ignored.


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