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BMX XXX

Review By:  Siou Choy

Developer:   Z-Axis
Publisher:   Acclaim
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Extreme Sports
ESRB:   Mature
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Unit, Custom Soundtracks
Date Posted:  

12-26-02

A marketing promotion with Scores results in some rather big snores.

The first thing to greet your disbelieving eyes, on opening your fresh minted copy of Z-Axis’ BMX XXX, is a glossy 7x9 of an attractive, if sleazy looking stripper wearing the bizarre pairing of daisy duke cutoff shorts, toeless basketball socks and stiletto heels (huh?), sitting with one leg in the air on a BMX freestyle sport bike, which inexplicably comes customized with its very own strip pole where the seat should be. Beyond the obvious amusement factor such an image provides, this unexpected welcome serves to prepare you quite succinctly for the mindset you’ll encounter in your BMX XXX experience: illogical, amusing, and mildly sleazy. By the way, she also has her top on, so get your minds out of the gutter, if that’s possible given your interest in this masterwork of virtual gaming. In fact, you’ll need to keep your mindset on "bland", as opposed to "hot", since little of the game’s "XXX" fare even approaches the average Cinemax movie in terms of sexual content. Unless you count swearing, light (very light) stripping – no full nudity or lap dances here, guys – and some really amusing banter with virtual pimps and hookers, they might as well have called this "BMX – Rated R for mature content".

Each level offers several missions for the intrepid gamer to perform, most of which are a rip. One of the missions (in hardcore mode, Bronx NY) entails picking up hookers on the back of your bike and delivering them to a seedy motel so they can service their johns. Of course, given that the team that gave us the impressive looking, but still intrinsically flawed Aggressive Inline develops the game, this is easier said than done. Even heading dead on into the hookers to pick them up, somehow you will inevitably miss them, and wind up circling them several times without ever picking them up. In fact, despite the backgrounds showing a clear view of the exact spot the hooker was and will again be standing, she will actually disappear into thin air during your circumnavigation of her immediate vicinity (only to reappear when you come to a stop)! Actually picking up passengers successfully in BMX XXX’s wildly askew control schema requires stopping several times. Once you drop one, or get hit by a car, you fail the mission and have to start all over again. I found the dialogue in this level to be reasonably accurate, insofar as the typical Lower East Side contingents of pimps, hookers, and low class Brooklyn accented, sleeveless T wearing Italians go; but other levels seem to be peopled with denizens who display an unlikely level of gratuitous swearing. Does the average American really swear incessantly and exclusively to this degree? One gets the impression that Z-Axis is either composed entirely of giggly teenage boys who just learned their first dozen swear words, or more likely, given the Scores connection, avid Howard Stern listeners out to make a name for themselves by "shocking" the audience. While I can’t speak for the great unwashed masses of Bible Belters out there flocking to snap up BMX XXX, I can tell you as a lifelong New Yorker that I was neither shocked nor impressed.

It seems that the entire gaming paradigm of BMX XXX, insofar as the single player "hardcore" mode, consists exclusively of two basic mission templates: either delivering a certain number of people to a specified destination or seeking out and gathering, activating, or destroying non-sentient items by the same means (hitting power switches, knocking over hot dog carts, gathering cans for bums, etc. – none of which require any activity or display any graphical aftermath beyond that encountered during the pickup/delivery missions). This sort of thing is amusing enough the first few times encountered, but once the realization dawns that this is all you have to look forward to, it gets old pretty fast; particularly since you aren’t given any clue as to their locations. Unlike Aggressive Inline or the Crazy Taxi series, where the game pretty much leads you to your current goal/destination, BMX XXX demands that you figure it out for yourself. And as already mentioned, if you should happen to wipe out during the run while carrying a passenger, you’ll find yourself forced to redo the entire mission from scratch. Once you complete a given amount of missions (or "challenges") in a level, you’ll be able to unlock, and move on to, the next level. So for example, you wouldn’t be able to proceed to the Las Vegas stage until you completed most of the challenges in the Syracuse level.

A few random notes on graphics: when your character (and/or your passengers in the various missions) fall and crash, they fall like limp rag dolls, as opposed to actual humans, while the bike goes flying across the street in defiance of all applicable laws of momentum and gravity. Your character also tends to vanish into the ground somewhat on landing, and while by no means as pronounced as, say, The Scorpion King in this respect, it is still a surprising and unexpected flaw coming from the makers of Aggressive Inline. Another weird reaction your character has to crashes (beyond disappearing into the ground, which would traumatize anyone) is how they tend to rise up from the ground twitching like a junkie on an O.D., which probably says more about the development team than any normal person’s reaction to a simple wipeout. And while most of the game’s character models appear to be derived from standard, if unspectacular 3D meshes, the "midget clowns" in the Short Hills level look like cardboard cutouts, and don’t actually appear to be on the same plane as your (or other) characters.

As you might have guessed from the "ring around the hooker" anecdote, the game’s controls leave much to be desired. Instead of motion being directed by points on a range or gradations on a scale, the controls in BMX XXX appear to be formulated on a binary scale: yes/no, left/right, with nothing in between. The slightest of taps in any direction to steer your bike, rather than offering the slight adjustments and compensations that are essential components of any driver’s repertoire, result in wildly changing angles at breakneck speed, which beyond inducing instant nausea, is, to say the least, not a good thing.

The levels in BMX XXX are pretty big – in fact, too big, considering. There is a strong feeling of empty, unused space all around, with such areas generally absent of anything of value, even to the point of being devoid of "playable" walls, rails, or other assorted tchotchkes to perform tricks on. As in Aggressive Inline, you play through levels without a time limit, per se, though individual missions are not so blessed (which is a real drawback, given the game’s lack of direction and huge levels). You also have to contend with a health meter, which drops with every crash but can be refilled by the successful completion of tricks.

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