It's common for game developers to borrow ideas from other popular games - in hopes that their own game receives the same kind of widespread success. Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX represents Acclaim's attempt to cash in on the extreme sports phenomenon started by Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and, as a result, the basic game mechanics should seem very familiar to fans of the skateboarding game. To its credit, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX introduces some new elements to the extreme sports subgenre. Unfortunately, the game has a number of both major and minor flaws.
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX's options are typical of an extreme sports game. The proquest mode is essentially a career mode that lets you select from a lineup of the world's best BMX freestylists to play as. It also lets you earn new sponsored clothing, new levels, and new bikes. Each track has a series of objectives that start at an amateur difficulty level and then steadily increase in difficulty after you complete them. In fact, the default bike just isn't good enough for accomplishing some of the later, more difficult objectives, so there is substantial incentive for obtaining faster and more maneuverable bikes. Even so, the proquest mode may be a little too easy for extreme sports veterans, since the game visibly highlights the obstacles associated with objectives you need to complete. However, this should be a welcome feature for those who are new to the genre. The game's two remaining modes - freeride and session - are practice modes in which you can race around on a track, with or without a time limit. Unfortunately, these modes are mostly worthless for practicing in, since some tracks - particularly the backyard pools area - constantly change as new areas open up and as you complete more objectives.
The gameplay in Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is solid, if perhaps lacking in originality. Just as in Tony Hawk, pressing a series of button combinations makes you perform tricks on your bike. The more complicated your combination is, the more points you receive. Unfortunately, even executing the simplest trick isn't as easy as it should be. The first problem is that when you're facing the camera, you have to press "up" to turn your bike around. In theory, it's the ideal way to address camera problems, but in practice, the sluggish controls really prevent this maneuver from being useful. Another minor problem is the game's collision detection. Most of the time, it's easy to judge your distance from the ground or from an obstacle, which makes trick execution ideal. However, there are times when your bike seems to clearly miss an obstacle, but you'll still crash as though you ran right into it. The inconsistent collision detection also becomes a problem when you attempt to perform grinds - sometimes your bike can connect with an obstacle from an unrealistic distance, and other times, you need to be very precise and land right on the object you want to grind.
Visually, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is on par with other multiplatform ports of extreme sports games. A few impressive textures appear here and there, like on the various riders' helmets, but the rest of them are fairly bland and pixelated. The bike rider models are not incredibly detailed, but there are enough subtle differences to help you recognize the differences among each of the riders. Oddly enough, even though the various environments and the character models are essentially taken straight from the PlayStation version of the game, slowdown and drops in frame rate can still be a major problem in areas with numerous objects. The slowdown usually dissipates after a second or two, but it can affect gameplay, especially if you want to perform a complicated trick in a detailed area during the last seconds of the round. The game has plenty of other small visual problems as well, like the crash animations. Since there are no pre-scripted crash animations, your rider will just go flying like a limp rag doll whenever you hit something. It's humorous at times; however, it's generally very awkward and unrealistic.
Other than the proquest mode, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX doesn't have much else to offer. There are no multiplayer modes, which is unfortunate since most of the latest extreme sports games have found ways to incorporate different types of multiplayer modes, either online or on a single computer. In the end, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX can be fun, but the occasional problems with the graphics and collision detection can quickly become a source of unnecessary frustration.