Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX could be described as a complete knock off of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series in nearly every way, but that's not particularly bad, as there are far worse series to imitate. While the game is not original in any way, shape, or form, it still packs enough of a gaming wallop to entertain both fans of bike racing or newcomers to the extreme sports genre.
Gameplay is fairly simple. Attack nine different levels with as much gusto as possible while jumping, grinding, and tricking off of every available object in order to complete objectives and capture magazine covers which allow advancement to other levels. For those familiar with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, the covers replace the videotapes in that game.
Instead of entering a rigid contest against AI drones, you attack the level itself, choosing where to go and what to do with a sense of exploration and adventure. For a game of this type to be successful, the levels must be expansive and interesting, with plenty of different options, paths, and secrets to discover. While Pro BMX levels feel a bit like Tony Hawk B-Sides, they're compelling enough to hold interest, at least for a limited time. Unfortunately, the dirt portions added to the levels in the game, while aesthetically pleasing, don't feel much different than other surfaces.
The controls translate nicely from console to PC, especially if you use a game pad. Controls are very tight, and novice gamers should be able to grasp the basics fairly quickly. Mastering the many tricks is another matter entirely, but the learning curve is both forgiving and challenging -- a real pleasure.
Multiplayer options are, unfortunately, a bit weak. The games within the title are the same as those found in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and are fun and competitive as any veteran of that series will attest. Unfortunately, Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX offers only hot-seat competition or LAN action, and the lack of an Internet component reduces the options considerably.
The host of different riders, bikes, and levels come together to create a cohesive package, and with the relative dearth of quality extreme sports games on the PC, the title is worthwhile. If you've played the game in console form, you won't find anything new here, but fans will find it undeniably fun.
Graphics: The polygons are smooth and the variety of textures decent, but it shows off its 32-bit console roots with its blocky demeanor. The animations are excellent with crisp, fluid movements.
Sound: The diverse and interesting soundtrack is better than the first Tony Hawk game. It mixes classic thrash and punk with some of the best contemporary hip-hop available, and each track seems to fit perfectly with gameplay. The sound effects are limited, but the focus is on the musical score.
Enjoyment: While the game offers no innovations, gameplay is enjoyable with plenty to do. Entertaining levels provide lots of action and the many choices of bikes and riders keep gameplay fresh.
Replay Value: Completing the game will take some time, but enjoyable gameplay makes it entertaining enough to make it a reachable goal. The lack of an Internet multiplayer option is disappointing, and limits the overall replay value.
People who downloaded Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX have also downloaded:
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, Road Rash, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer, Microsoft Golf 3.0
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