Wow, what has Rainbow Studios done? Generally a reliable developer of games that include Splashdown and the
ATV Offroad series, this is almost a 180 for the studio. Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 is one of the most irritating, stiff, and unnecessairly difficult games to emerge in the extreme sports genre in quite some time. It's nowhere as good as the Tony Hawk
games, and even falls short of the Dave Mirra BMX titles. I'm almost afraid to say it, but BMX XXX may be a little bit better than
Hoffman, at least where control is concerned.
Pro BMX 2 takes a slightly different approach to the extreme sports genre by having the actual riders go on what seems like
a real road trip they went on (at least, from what I'm getting from the video sequences), and basing the game around that. But during their trip, did they have to knock down toolboxes or set off fire alarms? I highly dobut that, and yet that's the asinine crap you're expected to do in this game. Pro BMX 2 features some of the lamest stage goals to be offered in a long time, as well as some of the least interesting or fun stage designs to be offered. This is like taking the engine from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and making a BMX game out of it. The design seems so archaic to what is being offered now that playing this game seems almost like a chore.
The trick system is a bit slow and lacking, especially compared to what Z-Axis did for the Mirra games and Aggressive Inline. Pulling off tricks seems like it's too much of an effort, and trying to do a combo is even more work. If it weren't for the manuals and flatland tricks, you probably wouldn't be able to leave the first stage. The main idea of the game is to pull many tricks as possible for the highest score possible. When this element isn't even fun, basically the whole game isn't. The controls are far from tight and responsive, which is a bit suprising to see from a game developed from Rainbow Studios, which generally do a good job with control response.
Even visually, this game is a disappointment. I know that Rainbow Studios usually doesn't create the most stunning looking games, one of their trademarks is creating some rather vast landscapes. You won't get that here, as most of the stages seem a bit too small, especially when compared to the Tony Hawk games or Aggressive Inline. Plus, the game reeks of "PS2 port", with blurry textures, a somewhat laggy framerate, and some below-average player models.
The sound isn't much better, consisting of "Average Extreme Sports Music Vol. 5". Here, though, it doesn't even seem like they tried that hard to come up with a decent soundtrack. Then again, none of the Activision extreme sports titles have wowed me with their soundtracks. At least there is custom soundtrack support, which is something rather expected for Xbox games of the extreme sports or racing genre. The rest of the sound package isn't really noteworthy, with the typical sound effects of an extreme sports game. But the weird "siren squeak" when you complete an objective is really uneccessary.
Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 once again falls behind Acclaim's DMF BMX series, as well as pretty much every other game in this genre. It's too cumbersome, annoying and outdated to really be fun, and really does nothing new or great for the fairly thin BMX sub-genre. I would just skip this game and hunt down Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 (which is one year older than this game), as it's much better than what was done here. A suprising miss for Rainbow Studios.