Extreme Sports titles are becoming ten a'penny. Almost every other week there seems to be one arriving on the shop shelf. Of course this is all because of the success of a certain Tony Hawks Pro Skater series and the phenomenal popularity it now enjoys. Whilst the spin-offs seem never ending there are few titles that have actually attempted to apply a story to the proceedings. Dark Summit was one title that attempted this and now, again from THQ, we have Toxic Grind.
To get an idea of what Toxic Grind is about you have to think of the film Running Man. The year is 2097 and BMX riding has been outlawed. A twisted reality game show has been setup to publicly execute the BMX riding culprits. Of course eventually the number of offenders began to dwindle and the need to find more contestants became greater in order to keep the show running. The crazy host of the show, Dixon Von Blass, resorted to using a time travel machine to grab contestants from the past. Unwittingly Jason Hayes is taken from the year 2002 and placed into a lethal arena. Guess what? You get to control Jason Hayes.
The main, story part of the game is entitled Underground. Here you can begin with a tutorial if you like, before going on to two levels, one where you must perform all nine objectives within a given time and the other, a competition, where you must place third or higher in order to progress. After this it's off to the futuristic world for some lethal competition. Failure to succeed in these futuristic arenas will mean death and game over. The game also offers two more modes but neither are really worthwhile. Arcade mode which lets you play any level that you've unlocked in the Underground game. Pro Circuit lets you progress through the levels that are unlocked in any order you so desire. Even the collection of multiplayer modes that are on offer are rather uninspiring.
If there is one area where Toxic Grind is off, it is the game physics especially when talking about landing a trick. At times it feels like you are getting away with murder as your biker seems to land awkward without falling off. Of course this works the other way too and occasionally it can get awkward whilst attempting to pull off a trick which although you are doing it right just doesn't seem to happen. Another problem I have with the game is sometimes when it asks you to perform certain tricks, and you do, it fails to recognise them. On the first level for instance, I tailwhipped over the big gap about 10 times before it actually acknowledged that I had done it, very frustrating. These complaints are a shame as generally the control felt OK.
Visually there is little to distinguish the game between itself and the hoard of extreme sports titles. That is of course until we come to the futuristic courses. These are simply not up to standard and to be honest are a bit flat when compared with other titles. The graphics and textures are more what you would associate with a PlayStation 2 game than a Xbox one, which is disappointing. The framerate can get a little jerky too, which again is inexplicable.
There aren't any game wrecking problems for deaf gamers with Toxic Grind. The tutorial is completely in text. Text hints are given during play and all objectives and trick list can be recalled at any point, should you need to check on them. One thing I did notice during the second level competition, is that when your points score puts you into fifth place or higher you are verbally told of this but nothing appears in text onscreen. What is disappointing though is that the story part of the game (which is given in-between the levels in the Underground mode) is unsubtitled. Of course a story mode without a story seems very strange indeed.
Toxic Grind rather disappointingly is a rather average game. It should have been a different story and when you first play the game it seems that everything is OK. However, as you play the game more and begin to realise some of the aforementioned problems, it is likely that you won't want to put up with the problems. If you are a extreme sports gamer then you'll probably already have Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 for the Xbox and whilst that isn't a great game by any means it does offer more than Toxic Grind, which is a shame.
Overall Game Rating: 5.3/10 Toxic Grind is distinctly average in every sense.
Deaf Gamers comment: It's a real blow that the story mode isn't subtitled as it's probably the best part of the single player game.