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PSP  header logo

Dave Mirra BMX Challenge

For: PSP

Not even Miracle Boy can save this one

Product: Dave Mirra BMX Challenge | Developer: Crave Entertainment Group Inc | Publisher: Crave Entertainment Group Inc | Format: PSP | Genre: Celebrity, Sports | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
 
Dave Mirra BMX Challenge PSP, thumbnail 1
You wouldn't perhaps know it from looking at us, but we're not extreme athletes here at Pocket Gamer. Sure, we've dabbled in the BMX scene, but hardly at a level to make the entry list at the X Games. Which is why we don't really know what a face plant feels like. But we imagine the sensation can't be too dissimilar from having this mess of a game associated with your name.

Dave Mirra, BMX trickster extraordinaire, may be the highest decorated X Games contestant, but he's also a businessman and runs his own bike company. So you suspect he'll realise that despite the money he's presumably making from his licensing deal for Dave Mirra BMX Challenge, the consequences for the Mirra brand could be more costly still.

Ultimately we're not business advisors, of course, much less Dave Mirra's business advisors. But an area we're definitely comfortable in is reviewing video games. Which is why we can confidently say Mirra's PSP outing is terrible.

The action is split between trick events or race events. Either path will carry you through the game's 17 levels (split across nine environments such as school grounds, a natural history museum, an industrial zone, a far eastern setting and so on) and we can only assume the 'Challenge' referred to in the title has something to do with working out which of the two modes of play is the most disappointing.

Opt for racing, for instance, and once you've got over the initial shock of the angular nature of the graphics, the lack of detail of the textures and the fact that everything seems to be mostly made up of differing hues of grey and brown, you'll soon notice the dreadfully limited handling. At times, it's like cycling through treacle, an effect that is further enhanced by frequent technical slowdown.

The dreary, cumbersome nature of your avatar's progress is disappointing – particularly if you've ever witnessed the incredible dynamism and energy of real-life BMX contests – but arguably not as unsatisfactory as the course design.

Apart from the structure relying on re-running through sections of the environment two or three times (before moving on to another section in order to do the same), the placement of items and actual architecture of the levels can be mind bogglingly sadistic. Jumps that seem intent on getting you into trouble, corners that can't be taken without almost coming to a halt (or else placing you in a direct path towards an obstacle), and opportunities for grinding a vertex that deliver you straight into a wall – such delights make numerous appearances in all stages.

Ultimately though, the level design is the only thing making life occasionally difficult and requiring you to restart an event (which, to highlight possibly the only positive here, is an immediate process). That said, the ability to gain adrenaline boost from tricks performed during race events can often still see you sail past the three computer-controlled adversaries despite the odd encounter with the scenery – and as long as you finish on the podium, you're through to the next unlocked venue.

That's if you haven't given up on the whole thing already, of course. We would have done, but not checking out the trick events would have unprofessional. Alas, having sampled the tricks during races (in order to gain boost or reach a handful of collectable bike and clothing icons that usually hang in mid air), there were no pleasant surprises here. The repertoire is decent, with grind, stall, and air trick variants (along with manuals and specials) available but their implementation is occasionally unintuitive, requiring longer combo-style command inputs than the simpler, more immediate alternatives favoured by other extreme sports games.

More crucial, though, is the nature of the physics modelling of the trick system, which, like the handling issues already discussed, simply lacks the required dynamic and responsive character to engage the player. Whether you're performing a superman, double tailwhip 360 or no foot double backflip, everything seems mechanical, artificial and excessively limited – it's about as stimulating as trying to hold a conversation with a mollusc.

Ultimately, the entire production is lifeless. A two- to four-player ad hoc option is included, featuring Capture the Crown, Trick Attack, Race, Who's the Leader and Biggest Combo modes, but it doesn't change the fact the game remains fundamentally flawed.

The minimal and utterly unoriginal game content is matched by the overall level of presentation and technical limitations that extend beyond the graphics – the sound effects are just as lacking, with cycling on certain surfaces sounding remarkably like rain, while vocal-less, generic punk rock plays relentlessly (and repetitively) throughout the whole sorry affair. Combined with the dreadful gaming experience, you emerge from Dave Mirra BMX Challenge feeling like you've just ploughed head first into concrete.

That'll be the face plant, then.
 
Dave Mirra BMX Challenge
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 15 June 2007
An awful, rewardless gaming experience on just about every level
 
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