Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX 2
Out of all the offshoots from the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX on the PlayStation was probably the least exciting. Not that it was a bad game, far from it, it's just that it didn't have the flare that makes THPS so exciting and addictive to play. Of course the first game came out for the PSone and this sequel has been created for the PS2 so of course better visuals are guaranteed, but has the gameplay been improved upon?
Perhaps one of the first things you'll notice and be unhappy with, is the 2 minute time restrictions that are placed on the levels. Aggressive Inline and the soon to be released Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, have done away with this time restriction and the difference in gameplay is most welcome. Instead of feeling like you have to either complete all the objectives at the speed of light or achieve them in a piecemeal fashion, you get time to get comfortable and perform the objectives at your own speed. By having more time to do things it is also easier to learn the different levels and in turn appreciate them more. Sadly the 2 minute restriction just feels out of date.
The games comes with the necessary Freeride, Park Editor and Multiplayer modes but it's the Road Trip mode which most gamers will head for. The Road Trip mode, like in other extreme sports titles, sees you progressing from one city to another completing objectives as you go along. The problem with the Road Trip mode is that it is very inflexible. Each level (there are eight in all) comes with 12 objectives. These objectives are split into groups of 4 objectives for each difficulty level. You must complete all of these objectives before you're allowed to progress to the next level. THPS 3 allowed the next level to be unlocked even if you didn't complete all of the objectives on the previous map so why have the developers taken this backward, rigid approach? For me this adds needless frustration that could have been so easily avoided. It is also disappointing to be unable to create your own riders and again you could do this in THPS 3, so why not in this game?
If you liked the style and gameplay of the first title then you'll like how this sequel feels. The bike control feels more natural, if not completely realistic, and the trick mechanism instantly feels familiar. Flatland tricks have now been incorporated into the game too which adds to the gameplay.
As we said earlier the game was always going to better this time around because of it being on the PS2. Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 is probably the best looking game in Activision's extreme sports range to date. Slowdown does occur in places but on the whole the experience is a smooth one. One thing I have noticed though is that the game appears to have some kind of vsync (or whatever the term is for a console game) problem. This only occurs infrequently though and isn't really a problem at all.
Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 whilst good, still comes with it's fair share of problems. The game is fine for deaf gamers because all of the objectives and information is given in text and the sounds in the game have no bearing on the gameplay. It is the inflexible nature of unlocking the tracks and the 2 minute time limit imposed on you that will grate though. Still it represents a solid title and if you enjoyed the original game then you'll be impressed with improvements of the handling and augmentation of the trick system.
Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10 The addictive gameplay is hampered somewhat by the old fashioned two minute time limit and inflexible Road Trip mode.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems at all.