BMX XXX (PS2)
BMX XXX is more than a game, it's a phenomenon. It is unparalleled in the game industry as the most overhyped title in history, and it rivals only PT Barnum and Don King in its unapologetic rampant self promotion. It goes as far as to call itself, "the most outrageous, most controversial, funniest game ever." XXX bills itself as a pioneer in a "groundbreaking entertainment experience" -- the leader new generation of mature games. Mature games that target the American Pie generation as opposed to the Saturday morning cartoon generation. All this boils really boils down to the fact that this game has some boobs and poop jokes in it. That's what makes it "extreme". Sure it's funny (sometimes it tries too hard to be funny), but after the initial shock value, you realize that it isn't a very good game compared to your other options out there.
With all of the hype surrounding the explicit, "groundbreaking" content there was little that caught me by surprise that I hadn't already expected. The little that did catch me a bit off guard was more immature and unfunny than worth mentioning. If you've read anything at all about the game's content previous to playing it, you'll already be numb to its shock value.
Though it insanely satisfying to see a gyrating, partially nude honey dancing for me on screen as a reward for a standard collecting challenge, it's novelty wears off. Especially when you consider that there aren't that many stripper video to unlock, it's a fair challenge to unlock them, and on the PS2 all the good parts have been censors. After the gimmick of hobos, strippers, pimps, and clowns runs out, the only thing that's left to fall back on is the gameplay (then again you can never get tired those Scores videos). As it turns out, the developers probably spent a little too much time marketing the mayhem and dodging the scrutiny mainstream media to concentrate on making a good game. As a result, the gameplay takes a back-seat to the "attitude" and design.
BMX XXX is the creative name for Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 sans Dave Mirra's licensed name. Mirra was smart enough to distance himself away from this "groundbreaking" title as far as he could because the fundamentals, the actual game, is worse than Mirra 2 which was made over a year ago. What little that has changed, has been copied from other extreme sports franchises.
This time around, the levels are larger. Though they are more sparse with a lot less to do and a hefty amount of empty space. If you yelled loud enough in the Launch Pad level, you would probably hear an echo for minutes.
The graphics haven't changed very much since Mirra 3 and can't compete with current extreme sports titles: Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, Aggressive Inline, or even Konami's barnyard of mediocre action sports titles. Visually, it can't compete with any titles released in the last 6 months. You would think that graphics, especially character models, would have gotten more of a cosmetic touch up. Because let's face it, the first thing us guys are gonna do is make a completely naked bike girl. Why? Because we can. We want to have her look good, and not like a 100 polygon marionette. That's the least we can ask. (Note: In a twist of epic proportions the option to create a topless female rider is not available because Acclaim was asked to censor that feature. Thankfully, exploding heads with fountains of blood gushing out in Vice City is still somehow A-ok with Sony.)
Like Aggressive Inline and THPS4, the time limit has been eliminated to focus on traversing the large environments and playing at your own pace. The only thing limiting how long you can stay up (pardon the pun) is your health meter which decreases every time you bite the concrete.
The soundtrack is excellent. It's your standard action sports amalgamation of hip-hop, punk, and rock tracks mixing big names acts (311, Motley Crue, Green Day) with some other less known good bands (Ten Foot Pole, NERD, Trust Company). Here's a run down of the tracks:
Green Day -- "Basket Case"
N.E.R.D -- "Lapdance"
311 -- "Down";
Saliva --- "Click, Click, Boom";
Alien Breed -- "Crackling" and "Evil Twin"
Taking Back Sunday -- "Cute without the E"
Trust Company -- "Downfall"
Motley Crue -- "Girls, Girls, Girls"
Ten Foot Pole -- "Plastic" and "Giving Gravity a Hand"
De La Soul - "The Magic Number"
New Found Glory - "My Friends Over You"
KRS One - "Step into a World (Rapture's Delight)"
Brand New Sin - "SPP" and "Judgment Day"
Audiovent - "The Energy"
Eric B and Rakim- "Know the Ledge"
Large Professor - "Bout that time"
My biggest problem with XXX is not the stunted gameplay. You can buy any other action sports game and get better gameplay. The biggest problem is that there's not enough compelling "extreme" content to keep me from seeing the glaring shortcomings in the game. Maybe if there was more eye candy (not just better character models, be also better all-around graphics) to distract me, I would have less time to find faults with the level design. Maybe if there were more Scores videos and they were easier to get, I might be more forgiving about the shoddy gameplay. Maybe if the all the scenes were laugh out loud funny instead of just amusing (or downright stupid), I might overlook the fact that XXX is nothing more than a polished, raunchy Dave Mirra 2 mod.
I'll admit that it's one of the funnier games I've played. But I'll also say it's one of the most overhyped games I've played, and after Sony dropped the ax on Acclaim at the last second banning the nudity, BMX XXX wasn't all that groundbreaking after all. Except for the soundtrack, it's hardly even worth renting.