Hands-onMat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2

Activision brings by a playable copy of its upcoming BMX sequel.


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The follow-up to Activision's freestyle BMX game, Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX, is coming along quite nicely, judging from the build we were shown today. The game is currently in development for the PlayStation 2 at Rainbow Studios, the well-known developer of games like Splashdown, Racer Revenge, and ATV Offroad Fury, and its hand is very tangibly felt in Mat Hoffman 2. What we saw today felt very solidly built, despite lots of placeholder and "first pass" elements (mostly in the sound and animation departments), and it's clear that quite a bit of effort is being put into making this sequel a much better game than its predecessor.

The most important addition to the game is the inclusion of flatland tricks. Rather than simply having to rely on catching air or accessing grindable ledges in order to perform tricks and further your multipliers, Mat Hoffman 2 lets you pull off a whole bunch of different stunts while riding on the ground. You simply have to input a manual command, Tony Hawk-style, as you're landing from a jump, in order to start up a chain of flatland tricks. Once you land, and depending on what type of manual you landed with, you'll be able to execute any number of tricks--you just have to double-tap in any direction and press the square button. You can maintain these tricks by keeping the square button held down for longer periods of time, but balance is an issue, so you'll have to be wary. As mentioned above, exactly which flatland stunts you'll execute depends on what manual trick you landed with, and we saw a whole mess throughout the course of today's demo, including the surfer, the bar ride, the seat eater, the peg stand, and the bar spin, among many others. Another new addition is the trick modifier (called the "trick morpher" in Hoffman 2), which works much like the one in the Dave Mirra games. With it, you get to alter tricks midway through their execution by using the L2 and R2 buttons. Doing so will often drastically change the tricks' animations and net you a few bonus points in the process.

We got to see the Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Las Vegas stages in action during the demo, and they're all quite distinct and fairly large. The Chicago stage incorporates automotive and pedestrian traffic pretty heavily into its design, and you'll have to dodge that traffic if you want to grind on the medians in the middle of the road. The Activision representatives mentioned that many of the buildings in the stage would eventually open up and allow you to ride through them in the final product. We couldn't see any of that, but we did get to see a huge open drawbridge that, if you complete a certain mission objective, will close up and allow you to cross. And under said drawbridge was a huge pool of Rainbow Studios-brand water, much like the stuff you saw in Splashdown. The Las Vegas stage is a bit more tightly packed than the Chicago stage, but it's pretty large nonetheless. A huge pool-like area lies in between a bunch of buildings, the outer structures of which form a sort of grind network that you can use to access the rooftops. There's also a miniature roller coaster placed somewhere in the stage, though we didn't get to mess with it at all. The OKC stage, finally, was set in an indoor warehouse-type environment, complete with the requisite ramps, grind pads, and the like. It was the smallest of the stages in the demo, and it seemed to focus on the sorts of air tricks you'd associate with that type of course. The stages we didn't see are Portland, Boston, and New Orleans. From what we've been told, though, dynamic trick lines--meaning, trick lines that change due to actions on your part--will be a consistent theme throughout the game.

The game seemed to be in good shape when we played it, despite the fact that it has only recently attained alpha status. The frame rates in the Chicago stage were a bit sketchy, but we have enough faith in Rainbow Studios to assure you that the problem will be resolved well before the game goes gold. We did get to hear about many of the game's multiplayer features, which include "horse," O2's patented "push," and a trick attack mode, as well as a joust mode that will purportedly put players on opposite ends of a trick line and arm them with boxing-glove-tipped lances. We can't wait to see that one.

In any event, we'll have more on Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 for you soon. For now, check out these screenshots.

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