IGN Review of Dave Mirra BMX Challenge
Since his name was dropped from Acclaim's much talked about BMX XXX, Dave Mirra has been rather absent from the world of videogames. Picking up the license and handing it off to Left Field Productions, Crave brings the biker's name racing back at us with Dave Mirra BMX Challenge. Unfortunately, it should have scrapped the bike for parts and bought some donuts instead.
Much of the game's design seems somewhat similar to Neversoft's recently released Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, a different and rather fun take on its veteran skating franchise. BMX Challenge's Career mode is spit into two main parts, Race and Trick Contests. Though they take place on the same levels, the progression of each is independent in that you can complete all of the race events without touching a trick competition, for example.
This setup works fine, but everything else about the game is downright terrible. For one, the track design is abhorrent. Not only will you fly around corners and hop off of jumps only to wind up smashing your face into needlessly-placed objects, you'll often find yourself wondering which direction leads to the finish line. Halfway through each race, the lap layout will change and you'll take an alternate route that can sometimes cross back over the main lap in a T section or something similar. There sometimes aren't arrows here telling you which way to turn, and you'll have to guess the first time through and hope you remember the second.
Though the back of the box says that there are 17 tracks, this really isn't the case at all. You first play through eight tracks on the Novice difficulty, and then you play through the same eight again on Pro. Beat them and you get the ninth and final track. Playing through the same course twice with different AI difficulties doesn't magically turn it into two different tracks.
Though this mathematical issue really doesn't have much to do with how bad the game is, the extreme ease with which you'll breeze through the game is. On both the Novice and Pro difficulty levels of the Race Contests, we won by what was probably an average of about 40 seconds on every race. The closest race in the Novice circuit was when we won by only about 18 seconds, though the closest Pro race was a little tighter when we only won by 10 seconds. Keep in mind that these were our first attempts (or second while on Pro) at each course, so shortcut knowledge and such wasn't to our advantage. To make matters worse, you only need to finish third out of four to progress, and the last guy is usually way behind the other two.
The Trick Contests will test you a bit more as you progress, but it really doesn't even become a challenge until you get to the last couple courses. You'll find that pulling off one or two strings of tricks within the three-minute time limit is often more than enough to put you into first. This can sometimes be a bit frustrating however as the controls are rather unforgiving. You don't latch onto grinds as easily as you might expect, and sometimes you'll just bail when you should have laid a peg onto the wall. As poor as the track design is for racing, it's even worse for the Trick Contests as they're meant to flow in a linear manner. You also don't even see other tricksters on the course - you just see where your point total ranks up at the end and hope you finish first since you aren't presented with a goal score ahead of time.
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