Cooler than poppin' wheelies.
Cruising around on the back of my Diamondback Viper, freedom at my fingertips, I was a master of the universe. I mean, dirt bikes were pretty much the only effective means of transportation for a 10 year-old kid living in a hilly neighborhood. No offense, Mr. Hawk, but try riding a skateboard uphill.
I used to think I was a bad ass on a dirt bike. Then a few years back I caught some X-Games qualifying round and realized that, in fact, I had no idea how to ride a bike. Apparently, just pedaling around and hopping the occasional curb ain't good enough. In addition to twirling the things around like a pair of nunchuks, these guys can make a bike cook them dinner, clean up their room and tuck 'em in at night.
In Acclaim's upcoming Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, you can't actually get your bike to turn on the oven and bake you a chicken. But you can come damn close. Following in the vein of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, this one looks to do for biking games what Activision's masterpiece did for skating games.
The game lets you play as one of 10 different BMX pros on 12 different tracks, all of which are wide open without fixed paths. The freedom is pretty much limitless and you can ride on just about everything.
The big selling feature of this puppy is its open trick system. One button determines the trick type (backflip, rocket air, etc.) and another button determines the modifier (no hands, no feet, etc.). The combinations are nearly unlimted, and new tricks become accessible as you progress through the game.
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX also features kick ass crashes that use the Skeletal Dynamics System. The SDS allows for real-time, unique crashes based on particular situations. For instance, let's say you smash into the roof of a building. Rather than just fall off the bike in a crumpled heap, your biker might slide down the roof and hold on to the edge for a second before falling off, then landing on the ground with arms and legs flailing about. Trust me, it actually hurts watching some of the collisions.
In addition to the basic Session and Freeride modes, you'll also find a Proquest that allows you to build up your stats and access new gear. As you beat the different stages, you'll be able to open up hidden features and more tracks.
Playing by yourself is fine and dandy, but Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX also gives you 10 multiplayer games including HORSE, Longest Grind, Sickest Trick, and my personal favorite, Gnarliest Crash. Though I must admit, everyone's got a different definition of "gnarly."
Whether or not this game can capture some of the magic that made THPS such a hit has yet to be seen, but from the preview build I've been playing with, I think it certainly has got a shot. We'll have to wait until October to find out. In the meantime, tighten your pegs and grease your chain...er...that sounded dirty.