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Old 11-15-2002, 02:09 AM   #1
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Review: BMX XXX - does the XXX factor enhance the play experience?

Gamespot Review: BMX XXX

Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Z-Axis, Ltd.
Genre: Sports
Release Date: 11/11/2002

Overall: 5.4 medicore
Gameplay: 5
Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Value: 6
Tilt: 5

Acclaim and Z-Axis are the publisher-developer duo known for creating the Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX series. The series has always made for a functional entry in the action sports genre, but it's never broken through and reached the bar that the genre's cornerstone, the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, sets year after year. The team did, however, make one breakthrough game in Aggressive Inline, an inline skating game that was released across all major platforms earlier this year. While one would expect the pairing's next game to improve upon their most recent work, BMX XXX goes back to its Dave Mirra BMX roots and contains most of the same gameplay problems found in the those games. It's also obfuscated by a layer of raunchy language, full-motion video of strippers, and some of the most confusing goals ever seen in a game of this sort.

BMX XXX plays like a watered-down version of Dave Mirra 2.

The gameplay of BMX XXX is very similar to that of Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2. One button is used for tricks, and another is used to modify those tricks. There's actually a considerable amount of depth here, as the game has a ton of tricks when you count up all the modified versions and combinations. However, even with all this variety, none of the tricks feel particularly special or important, and you're left with what seems like a billion different ways to do a tabletop. Little quirks of the Dave Mirra engine pop up on occasion as well. You'll sometimes find yourself able to skid in circles forever, and you can still land just about any vert trick in a stall, which takes all the challenge out of landing tricks. Simply hit the grind button on your way down and you'll catch the rail and stall your way to safety, even if you're headed headfirst into the pavement. The bike will also magically reorient itself to make wallrides, walltaps, and fast plants almost automatic. Sometimes you'll even be able to walltap a ramp as you're coming down, which is another way to guarantee a safe landing. While the genre isn't exactly known for extreme realism, the Dave Mirra engine's unrealistic quirks ensure that BMX XXX's trick system is never challenging.

A few changes and enhancements have been made to Dave Mirra career mode, which makes the game structure a bit more like that of Aggressive Inline and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. You'll enter levels without any sort of timer. You can freely ride around the level, taking on timed goals by speaking to pedestrians. Some goals, such as the ones that challenge you to execute a lengthy combo or reach a certain score, don't require any activation. Your rider has a health meter that is depleted every time you wreck. Completing goals refills the meter, but since you can simply start another run after running out of health, this only has an impact on some of the higher score goals or each challenge level's big collection goal, which has you trying to collect 45 objects in one run. The goals are mostly standard for the genre, but the new twist is that you'll occasionally be able to pick up people or objects. In practice, this is pretty much a gussied-up version of the Tony Hawk 3 goal that required you to find an axe and bring it to a man to cut open a door. The difference is that you'll actually see the rider carrying the object or person in question. Here, you'll find a leaf blower and bring it back to a homeless man so he can use it to launch his plane-shaped cardboard box.

There's no shortage of four-letter words in BMX XXX.

You'll also have to pick up objects or people and take them to specific spots in the level. In this case, you'll see the people--who range from prostitutes to strippers to gassy construction workers--riding on the back pegs of your bike. You can carry multiple monkeys on the bike, so one goal will actually show five monkeys holding onto various spots on the bike as you ride around. This can be amusing, although the excess baggage doesn't actually affect the way your bike handles. In all, each challenge level has 20 goals, three of which are score-based. One is a combo challenge in which you must simply perform a combo that contains a set number of tricks. Each level will have at least one goal that asks you to take five people to a certain point in the level, and there are also a mess of collection goals and a smattering of trick-based goals. Again, it's nothing out of the ordinary, despite the game's theme.

Many of the game's goals are set up by small cutscenes. These cutscenes are where the game displays its sense of humor. Double entendre plays a big role, so you'll get to listen to hot dog vendors talk about their "big wieners" and cart-manning peanut salesmen brag about their "hot salty nut sacks." In another section of the game, you'll encounter a fireman who is in desperate need of water pressure and is clutching his limp fire hose and complaining about his inability to "get it up." Besides being just plain dumb, the goal cutscenes also do an absolutely awful job at setting you up to complete the actual goal. Oftentimes you'll be told to hit a switch or find an item and be left with no idea what you're actually looking for. A brief panning shot of the goal area, showing the switch or item in question, would have made a world of difference.

One early goal asks you to wreck your bike into a "fruitbooter." While it could have clued you in on the fact that "fruitbooter" is a derogatory term for an inline skater by showing a brief shot of the inline skater in question, the game just expects you to already know what it means. Simple things like this make BMX XXX seem sloppy and frustrating. Some goals aren't difficult to understand and complete, yet still manage to make no sense. On a snowy city level, a weatherman has promised snow to his viewers, but it isn't snowing. Being the helpful action sports athlete you are, it's up to you to make it snow and save the weatherman's job. The actual goal asks you to find and ride your bike over four steaming manhole covers. How does riding over a manhole cover make it snow? You'd at least expect that this would be revealed once you actually complete the goal, right? Wrong. Instead, the game merely congratulates you for making it snow. That's it. No explanation whatsoever. You don't even get a cutscene that shows it actually snowing. It's just stupid.

The game's goals are terribly unclear sometimes.

Aside from the main career mode, you can also play in a few different two-player multiplayer contests. There's a simple score-based contest, a highest-combo competition that strips the losing player down to his or her underwear, and a mode that puts one player in charge of collecting all the boom boxes in a level while the other player remains stationary, armed with a collection of different weaponry, such as a grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, and rockets, and tries shoot down the other player and prevent the boom boxes from being collected.

BMX XXX is an M-rated game, and it takes advantage of that fact whenever possible. Aside from the dopey, junior-high-school humor, the game swears up a storm in every situation, from its cutscenes to its goal descriptions to the random things that people say when you ride near them. It also contains female toplessness of the polygonal and real-world variety. However, you'll have to do well at the game to actually unlock any of that stuff. The challenge levels have three video clips apiece, and the two competition levels both have one clip that is unlocked when you place first. Each clip is a brief shot of a stripper dancing. Not all the clips include topless strippers. Rounding out the M-rated madness is a mostly uncensored soundtrack. Racial slurs and drug references are edited out. Considering that much of this game's marketing campaign was centered on the concept of "keeping it dirty," you would think that it would go all the way, which makes the soundtrack editing seem really strange.

BMX XXX isn't a very good-looking game. The levels are large and look fine, but the riders look rather lifeless and don't animate especially well. The flatland tricks are the biggest offender in the animation department. The rider simply jerks from position to position when you move from one flatland trick to another. The models used in the goal cutscenes are shabby as well. A little lip movement on their part would have breathed a bit of life into these sequences.

With the exception of the chatty pedestrians and the licensed soundtrack, BMX XXX is a very quiet game. There isn't much noise to riding the bike, grinding, or anything like that. And while the pedestrians are quick to talk whenever you ride near them, most of them have only one phrase. When you're attempting to perform a trick in a specific spot of the level and failing repeatedly, hearing the same jackass shriek about his kid's college fund over and over again really doesn't help matters. The soundtrack is a weird mix of newer and older material, containing older tracks from Green Day and 311 and, in an inspired choice, Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls." Saliva, N.E.R.D., and several other acts are also included. The game also has custom soundtrack support.

BMX XXX isn't funny, and it isn't a good game, either.

Calling BMX XXX a mature game is probably the biggest joke of them all. Sure, it has a lot of cursing, strippers, and other "adult" stuff, but the game feels like it was written by and for a collection of eighth graders. Even if mindless jokes about sex and poop are right up your alley, the voice work and writing in BMX XXX are so bad that everything that's supposed to be funny simply falls flat. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Like most games that shoot for comedy, BMX XXX isn't funny. The design for the gameplay and goal system feel unfinished. If one of the two aspects were strong, it'd be easy to call the other an afterthought and move on. But aside from making the "groundbreaking" move of featuring a lot of cursing and strippers, BMX XXX doesn't do anything particularly well. If you're interested in the alternative sports genre, games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 and Aggressive Inline make BMX XXX look pathetic by comparison. If you're looking for a comedy with a bit of an adult edge, stop messing around and just go rent Porky's, Revenge of the Nerds, or National Lampoon's Animal House.

By Jeff Gerstmann, GameSpot [POSTED: 11/11/02]
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Old 12-12-2002, 02:45 PM   #2
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I definitely thought it was a bad idea. It doesn't enhance anything per se, what COULD it enhance anyway? I think its probably for covering up the developers slack.
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