Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 (2001)

After years of only spending a grand total of maybe 10 minutes with Dave Mirra 2 on the original Xbox back in the mid aughts, I finally dug my heels in and sat down with a mission to complete this game that has eluded me for over a decade. My familiarity with the first game in the series had me feel like I knew exactly what to expect, but upon launching the game for the first time, even though it seemed familiar in design, it was far more different than I could have imagined.

Dave Mirra 2 takes everything from the first game and cranks up the intensity. The graphics are instantly a much larger improvement and the first thing you’ll notice as a drastic upgrade. Each rider has much more definition and everything seems larger as well, thanks to the bump in technical aspects of the game, the resolution increases the depth of clarity.

The levels also received a huge scale bump as well, which I originally enjoyed, but a few moments later, after getting through the first round of amature objectives, I realized that the levels, even the beginning level of Woodward, that takes several of the icon levels of the original and pasted them together into a gigantic map, that is larger than every original level put together… was just too big for its own good. I really was kinda disappointed when it took me a good 15 minutes just to be able to find the four ladders to knock over, as one of my orginal amature objectives.

With the levels being so big, they also came with newer objectives that on its surface should have been enjoyable to complete. The ones like getting a certain score, or creating a string of combinations of tricks together to build up an exact amount of points were ok at the outset. But this quickly changed into finding or performing obtuse objectives. Most often was finding a specific area and performing a special move over an obstacle in that very defined area. This took so much fun out of playing the game. It really reminded me of why I didn’t like the Maximum Remix version of the original game.

So many times, I was forced to just ride around the huge levels just finding the weird objects to complete one task. Then because of the wonky physics engine, some objectives are nearly impossible to complete in the generous change of making the time limit 3 minutes instead of the original 2 from the first game. But even once you have memorized the layout of the convoluted and cluttered level, you have to actually line up the direct approach of the task, and then execute it perfectly. This is the area where I had the most trouble. I spent so many countless retries just attempting to perform a single trick, and with the game requiring pinpoint accuracy, I often got frustrated to the point of quitting out of the game for a few hours. Coming back to the game and attempting it again.

When I finally did complete the goal, I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment, as I felt that I didn’t actually do anything different than the other dozens or so of attempts, but simply just “lucked out” and got it by sheer will and attrition instead. So many lists of objectives were completed by just retrying over and over again with nothing that I could have seen that I have done differently. Emulation made these tasks so much easier to complete, and playing it on original hardware with no way to save a state right before attempting an objective would have resulted in much more frustration. This type of gameplay does not feel good and I really didn’t enjoy my time with the game as much as I had hoped.

There are good parts to this game, but the bad definitely outweighs the good in this case. I really think the game falls into that unfortunate category of “A bit more planning and editing would have made this game so much better”. Other NPC characters (whom of which are the characters you didn’t choose to be) are littered throughout the levels. The famous bikers sit around the level waiting for you to interact with them. Once you find them, they have a single objective that you must learn from them. That task is unknown until you talk to them. Once the NPC is met, and the secret objective is revealed, they serve no other purpose, and will just sit on their bike motionless for the remainder of your time playing.

The soundtrack to the game does feel better, as it is more varied than the last. There are still staples, such as Sublime, but the inclusion of some R&B, Rap, Nu Rock & even some Classic Rock makes the soundtrack feel more fleshed out and interesting. As will all of these games, they will become a bit tiresome, but it’s a large improvement from the original game. Also having the songs shuffle, instead of having to hear the same two minutes of the same song until you move to the next level, is a welcomed addition.

Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 takes the formula of the original game, but suffers from it just being focused on the wrong things. Creating levels that don’t feel as real, and just big fake “Video Game levels” really puts a hindrance on the enjoyment of the game. Every level has its “skate park” and “half pipe” sections, even in the middle of a freeway or amusement park. With a larger focus on more difficult objectives, requiring precise button inputs to pull off a certain trick in a specific location just further makes the game feel like it was forcing the difficulty of the game as the prime focus, instead of just making a fun game to play. Tweaking just a few things could have resulted in a much better gaming experience, but as it stands… Dave Mirra 2 is just a game not really worth playing for more than the first level.