Freestyle Metal X Review (PS2)
The stork left a little present on my front porch a few weeks ago. It appears that the Tony Hawk series, after a night of too many Ollies and Nosegrinds, had a hot to-do with BMX XXX. A few months later a little bundle of joy was wrapped and gently placed in my mailbox by the name of Freestyle MetalX from Midway. This small wonder has its father’s looks and its mother’s warped sense of humor. Will this little one be a gift from above filled with Sugar and Spice and or will it simply fill a diaper? Come to Daddy…
Going with the “if it ain’t broke” mentality, FMX subscribes strictly to the Hawk inspired gameplay engine. Complete a certain number of challenges to unlock the next level. Earn money in side games and picking up random dough to upgrade your gear. It’s a great formula that seems to work time after time. Unfortunately, anyone competent at these types of games will find FMX a touch simple. Points are pretty easy to come by and the challenges are less than challenging.
Now, before you stop reading, let me also say that not difficult does not mean not fun. I had a ton of fun playing this game. In fact, I had a ton of fun just riding around the rather spacious environments seeing what all I could ramp off. While trick combos are rather easy, it takes solid timing and the right ramp to get proper air for the real impressive tricks. I will say that I found myself enjoying the side games as much or more than the main story mode. I could write an entire article on “Human Darts”, but I won’t. I’ll just say this mode alone is worth the $5 rental at Blockbuster.
While the controls can be a bit clumsy at times, they are tighter than I expected. While steering is a little bit shaky, the guys at Midway really did a nice job implementing things like burnouts, doughnuts, wheelies, and powerslides that are part of motorcross. And I have to give major props for the use of the PS2 controller to it’s full potential. With all the things going on, it still never felt awkward or bulky trying to pull off elaborate stunts.
All in all, while not deep, you will get quite a few hours of gameplay out of the main career mode. The replay factor grows exponentially if you bring the buddies over for a few games of “Human Darts”.
For the most part, the graphics in FMX are not bad. However, and perhaps it’s not fair to compare but I expect a little bit more from Midway. Midway’s titles are usually pretty smooth and, well, pretty. FMX is choppy at times and sometimes looks like they ran out of time on some of the polish. It’s almost as if the environments are so big, they just simply didn’t have enough time and artists to clean up all the details. Points for some pretty nasty looking blood smears, but, all in all the looks of the game leave something to be desired.
It didn’t take me long to make a very important decision while playing FMX. The gamesounds and effects went down and the music came up. FMX is chock full of some great Metal Standards that have almost become video game anthems. From Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” to Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”, the soundtrack borrows from some other recent titles, but they fit the mood and feel of this game to a tee. Sprinkle in a few new bands like Reach 454 and Grade 8, and top to bottom you have a solid backdrop for Motocross thrills and spills.
The gamesounds just didn’t do much to pop for me. The bike sounds seemed a little over the top and the voice acting was, well, brutal. The innuendo spewing Bimbos that you confront on every level are not even adult film caliber performances and the riders themselves drop a one-liner here and there as well, but they add nothing to the final game. So, just crank up the music and rock on!
I am inventing an all-new recommendation category for Freestyle MetalX…MUST PLAY. Not necessarily a must have or a rental only, somewhere in the middle depending on the type of gamer that you are. The game itself, while not deep, does allow a pretty solid amount of playing time to accomplish all the goals on the expansive levels. For multiplayer enjoyment, I’ll be honest, if they had a game with “Human Darts” while I was in college, I’d be flipping burgers or pumping gas right now. It’s a blast! It even had my wife, who usually limits her gaming to Tetris-style games and titles that include the word “Mario”, playing round after round in stitches. It’s a must play.