Activision's O2 extreme sports line has been greatly spawned off of the super-successful TONY HAWK franchise. But even more so than the others, MAT HOFFMAN has borrowed much from the originator. If this game is any indication of where the HAWK franchise is going, it bodes very well for both series.
When you first fire up the game, you're treated to a long intro with a fantastic musical piece to go along with it. It works very well for the game that follows, and sets a great mood. The game starts with you selecting a rider, each choice having different attributes. Instead of the typical collection of tapes or by completing goals, PRO BMX 2 is much more straightforward.
I should back up a step. Before starting a level, a video rolls. These videos feature interviews with the riders, and show some of the things that happen on the road. It's an utterly fantastic addition
The gameplay is typical. The triangle button is for grinds, the square for more transitional tricks, and the circle for the bigger air tricks. The manual is also included by tapping up-down or down-up before landing a trick. It's gotten a lot more sim-like, which isn't an entirely bad thing. The learning curve is just a little bit higher, but really it's no big deal.
The level design has also changed. The levels are much bigger, and are great. The problem with the gameplay lies not in the mechanics, but rather the objectives. I literally got frustrated. I couldn't figure out what I had to do at times because the objectives were too vague. Other times, they were so difficult that I couldn't unlock the next level. It's really the only damper on what is otherwise a fine game.
As far as lasting power goes, HOFFMAN 2 has plenty of replay value. There are many things to unlock (most importantly the video). If you get into it, and can accomplish some of the more difficult tasks in the game, you'll be playing for a long time.
The graphics are just, well, there.
The sound is pretty good. The typical licensed music mix from artists like Spoon, Suicidal Tendencies, Bad Brains and LL Cool J. It's not the best mix of music for this type of game, but it does get the job done. Otherwise there are the sound effects of bicycles and your rider bailing.
If you like extreme sports games, you can't go wrong with MAT HOFFMAN'S PRO BMX 2. But with the difficulty, it might be best for the rest of the gaming public to rent this one first, especially with TONY HAWK 4 just around the corner.