Sometime last year, I had the opportunity to go to Incog's studios to check out WAR OF THE MONSTERS, the event was also the first time Incog showed off its next title DOWNHILL DOMINATION. Months later, DOWNHILL DOMINATION has hit store shelves, and is one of the more entertaining titles to be released this summer (if you can get past KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC and NCAA FOOTBALL 2004).
Apparently downhill mountain biking is a popular pastime among the staff of the Salt Lake City-based Incog, which is most famous for TWISTED METAL: BLACK. The guys around there thought it'd be perfect to make a game based on their passion. DOWNHILL DOMINATION sends you down some pretty wicked courses, having you perform tricks to gain speed, collect a plethora of power-ups and combat the other racers on the track.
Sounds a bit like SSX, right? At first glance, yes. But as you spend more time playing the game, you'll notice it has it's own unique feel and charm. Besides the courses with an overwhelming amount of routes, the overwhelming length of the courses, unique physics, it just has a different feel of speed and energy. I quickly got addicted to the game, which can be a lot worse than you'd think considering many of the races last over five minutes. If nothing else, it's a nice way to break-up your long play sessions of KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC (cause I know every one of you has got to be furiously exploring the galaxy in that right now).
Why should you buy this game? You should buy it because it's a lot of fun. You should buy it because of the ridiculous courses, because of the energy level, because it's a racing game that really does overwhelm you and in a lot of ways challenges you to be smart and play with your head to a much greater extent than SSX. The tricks system works well, and the races are difficult to the point where you won't just breeze through the game definitely upping the replay value and the worth of picking up this game.
I guess the biggest problem for this game is that in the rush of EA's NCAA pigskin game and LucasArts Star Wars RPG many gamers will just look at it as a clone of SSX, or another one of the many extreme sports game. Let me make it clear, it's neither one of those things. This game is a well-balanced downhill racing game, and is a pretty entertaining offering from Sony and Incog. If you enjoy having fun playing games, you can't go wrong here.
Graphically the game looks good. It reminds me of something you'd see in an arcade, very out there, with lots of color. I really enjoyed looking around at the environments and just checking out the locales. The animations are also very well done and the frame rate is screaming. Very pretty graphical package, what you'd expect from Incog.
The sound is a mixed bag. I can't say the music ever really got me into the game. Honestly, it's one of the drawbacks of the game, as if the music had really drawn you in, the game might be on another level. From a quality level it's good, from the artistic level of enhancing the gameplay it falls flat.
DOWNHILL DOMINATION won't blow you away in any way. But it's solid, it's fun, and it's definitely worth at least trying out, if not picking up.