Review of MX 2002
Well, the PS2 racing titles are certainly starting to come out of the woodwork. With the release of MX 2002, we are delivered what promises to be a true to life dirt bike racing experience. There are a ton of licensed products, including the motorcycles and real sanctioned racecourses for you to get your yas-yas off on.
The game opens up with a nice (and now all too customary) FMV of bikers pulling off all but impossible stunts for the layman. The clip really showcases the racing scene and gets gamers into the groove for the game that follows.
Starting things off you can select exhibition that will give you access to all of the riders in the game and all of the 21 tracks (of course some will be locked so dont get too excited just yet). There is also a nice Freestyle mode that lets you cut loose and perform all sorts of tricks and combos. The real meat though lies in the Career Mode. It is here that you are up against the worlds best riders and are given the chance to start as an amateur and work on up to the profession class of racers.
You start this mode by inputting your name and shirt/bike number. You can then select vendor providers for your bike, helmet, goggles, outfit, boots, etc. Once completed you are ready to enter the race! The game tracks stuff in terms of weeks so you follow the calendar starting with week 1 of course.
The early races are pretty easy giving you an opportunity to get used to all of your bikes specialties…and there is a lot to master. Like the PS2 ATV game, players can preload the bike as you approach a hill to give you more lift and air time. If timed properly, you will hit the next hill on the downward slope and not lose too much momentum. The game makes good use of the bikes clutch, allowing players to pop it for a small burst of speed at any time during the race. If timed properly, you can even pop the clutch after landing from a preload and not lose any speed at all. This takes some real practice though! Power sliding is also an essential element to be successful as some of the later courses have brutal turns that would be impossible to navigate without this feature.
As players complete each race in the beginning, little tutorials also pop up that give you the chance to hone the skills that I just mentioned above. I found this to be a nice little feature as each tutorial is totally relevant to the next race you are about to enter. Use them wisely and you will see your skill improve immensely.
Starting out with the 125cc amateur class bikes, the game process to the professional 125cc division and then on to the 250cc pros. Along the way you will also be invited to attend special invitational freestyle competitions. These little freebies include contests where you have to jump ramps and see how many trick points you can accumulate. The other one is a bus-jumping contest to see how much total distance you can amass. As you clear a set amount of buses, another one is driven in and the distance to the other ramp is increased. Both of these contests are timed so you better get your ass in gear!
The bike handling is supremely tight and controls like a dream. Once you get your licks down and master all of the various nuances of your ride the game takes on a very straightforward approach…dont do needless tricks or you will jeopardize the race. There is no rubber-band AI here. Drive a good race and you will win, mess up or play hotdog and you may find yourself eating dirt.
The trick system is well thought and pretty easy to execute once you get the hang of it. Each trick can be done by holding the preload button while pressing one of the button keys (x, o, triangle and square). Combos can be strung together by pushing multiple buttons, one after the other and holding the last series for extended style points. You can also re-map the buttons so you dont have to hold the preload button while pulling off tricks. This makes things even easier!
The courses for the most part are modeled after their real-life counterparts and for the most part are quite demanding and a real joy to drive. There are all types of terrain including dirt, mud and snow so things are mixed up to keep it interesting.
The graphics are quite nicely done with a good amount of attention to detail. Shock absorbers compress and flex appropriately and the driver animations, especially when pulling off tricks, is incredible. This can really be appreciated when you use the marvelous instant replay cam. Here you can freeze the action, rotate the camera, zoom in and out, do frame by frame…truly excellent! There is also a good deal of particle effects, especially for the dirt getting kicked up from the bikes rear wheels. I would have liked to see exhaust fires though from the exhaust pipes when I popped the clutch…that would have been cool. The PS2s texture problem seems to be getting resolved rather nicely here are well. Dont get me wrong, we can still expect much more detail in the future, but the backgrounds are very well modeled. The bikes are really what could have used a bit more flare and the ground is good but not great. The one thing that really stands out though is the draw-distance. Damn!…it appears you can see forever and with no pop-up or draw-in whatsoever.
The sound effects are appropriate with nice little blips from the clutch pops and good motor sounds emanating from the engines. You can also pick up the gravel/dirt sound from the tires going over the track. Music is provided from a few new rock groups that kick some major ass and certainly set the tone properly for the action at hand.
The game moves along at a rather quick pace and for those of you that can easily adapt to all of the various controls, the game is going to get completed rather quickly. There are a lot of different riders and tracks to try though and the various invitations that pop up hold your interest.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'MX 2002' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 13 MX 2002 in-game screenshot slideshow
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