Big Air Freestyle is the latest title to come out of Infogrames for the GameCube, giving Inforgrames a grand total of two titles on the system. However, unlike the fun and enjoyable Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, Big Air Freestyle comes off as a straight port of an average title.
Graphically, the game is solid and not unexciting. The character and bike models are nice, as are the little details such as the dirt flying up in the air and staying on the riders as they go by. Youíll also notice tire tracks all over the course from where you and other riders have driven past. Plus, the game runs at a steady 60fps, which is always nice. The soundtrack and sound effects arenít too shabby either. You have the standard sound effects in the game plus a soundtrack featuring the likes of 311. Itís a nice compilation of tracks, but seems far too tired after the deluge of action-sports games.
There are four options to choose from in the game: Freestyle, Race, Challenge and Multiplayer. In Freestyle mode you get the chance to pull off some crazy stunts in set tracks by holding the L trigger and then pressing any number of buttons afterwards. The trick system isnít necessarily bad, but it definitely feels like the player is disconnected from the action. In other action-sports games (most notably the Tony Hawk series), the button combinations that you had to perform felt logical to what would be replicated on the screen. Here, it doesnít seem like that at all. Instead it feels like youíre "dialing" in a move while in the air. However, the Race mode of Big Air Freestyle is executed better, despite the standard setup it has. In Race mode, youíll start off with some cash and the ability to enter some of the races that the game provides you (if you have enough money that is). With each race won, youíll gain more cash that you can use to improve your bikeís tires, suspension and engine, as well as to enter in more lucrative events.
Unfortunately, the game suffers from some pretty sloppy controls that will drive gamers up the wall. For one thing, the bikes feel far too light given their weight in real life, which can make for a real pain when trying to turn corners at different speeds, especially when youíre heatedly racing against other rider. I canít begin to count how many times I slammed into another racer when trying to take him on the outside, only to cut in too fast and smack into the back of his bike. Another thing was the absolute lack of customizability of your rider and his vehicle. Sure, you can change your tires, suspension, and engine by upgrading them, but it would be nice to have a create-a-rider mode since thatís pretty much standard in these types of games.
Had Big Air Freestyle come out a couple of years ago, it would definitely be considered one of the best motorcross games around. Unfortunately, itís didnít, and itís sad to say that this game is just one of many average titles that are slumming around the basement of the GameCubeís library. In fact, the only reason that this game was in my GameCube for longer than a week was because of the extremely fun Godzila: Destroy All Monsters Melee demo included in the game. Hopefully, Infogrames can put more work into the next installment of the series to improve on its flaws.
· · · Reno