The second wave is coming. Not content to merely make another skateboarding game, Acclaim is the first to strike in the world of freestyle BMX games. Using a modified version of the engine that brought you Rockstar's ill-timed Thrasher: Skate and Destroy, Dave Mirra is an improvement over Thrasher, yet it still carries some of that game's flaws.
Dave Mirra's main mode, the proquest, is a very goal-oriented mode. You start each level with four amateur challenges to complete. They are usually reasonably simple, such as score challenges, simple jumps, or knocking over items. Once those are completed, the pro challenges become available. The pro challenges are, as you might imagine, a little more difficult, and they'll ask you to do things like grind for 50 feet, make long transfers, or get a reasonably high score. Most of the challenges are fairly inventive and do a lot for the gameplay. The levels range from dirt tracks, to street settings, to full-on professional competition arenas, and most of them are fairly well designed. The game's other modes include the now standard free-ride and single-session modes, as well as a two-player mode with lots of different variants, such as best run, furthest jump, highest walltap, and so on.
Dave Mirra's control scheme sticks reasonably close to the control standard for the genre, using the X button for jumping and the triangle button for grinding. But instead of using the circle button for grab tricks, the circle is a trick-modifier button. On its own, you can use it to perform simple x-ups and other little tricks, but when used together with the square button, you can essentially create your own tricks, such as superman seat grabs, no-look one footers, and the like. This trick system breathes a little life into the game and keeps it from being a simple clone of the various skateboarding games on the market. However, the game is a little too lenient at times, letting you land sideways more often than it should. Also, pressing the grind button when you are within what seems like three or four feet of a grindable lip or edge causes your bike to automatically reorient itself and grind, regardless of how fast or how sideways you may be flying at the edge. It's almost as if pushing the triangle button turns on a "grind magnet" of sorts, and anything in its reach sucks your bike to the ledge and starts the grind. Thrasher had this problem, but it's even worse in this game.
Graphically, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX looks fairly solid, with decent textures and good trick animation. The game usually runs at a fast pace, but a few spots are plagued with some pretty horrific slowdown, which can really mess up your timing if you're carefully planning a jump. The sound is pretty good, and the soundtrack is filled with bands like Cypress Hill, the Deftones, Sublime, Rancid, and lots more.
The only major flaw in Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is that the game is a touch on the easy side. Once you've grasped the game's control scheme, it'll be a day or two before you've completed all of the game's challenges. As such, this is one you'll likely want to rent first.