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Downhill Domination Review - PS2

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When was the last time you came across a BMX game? I can only recall two: one on the PlayStation, which I can't remember the name of, and one on the old Master System, titled California Games, which also featured other sports. Yes, alright, there was also the recent Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX 2, but that was an indoors-based Tony Hawk's Pro Skater clone - I'm talking proper BMX: riding through dangerous dirt tracks lined with trees. So, after such a long wait, all of you BMX fans might be excited about the recent release of Downhill Domination on the PlayStation 2, but if you're looking for a realistic portrayal of the sport, you'd better turn back now.


Downhill Domination puts a wacky spin on BMX, just like the SSX series does to snowboarding; the characters are outgoing and carefree, you can pull off some of the most ridiculous trick combinations ever and the huge tracks are designed with enjoyment in mind rather than realism. One second you'll be streaming through a deadly thunderstorm, lightning igniting trees all around you, and the next, after travelling hundreds of metres further down the mountain, you'll be splashing through a group of steaming pools filled with Japanese citizens. It's the humorous, unexpected and fast-paced changes of events combined with the edge-of-your-seat tree and rock dodging that make Downhill Domination one enjoyable game.

Among the list of usual sport game modes such as Arcade and Single Event you'll find the ever-popular Career mode. Extended cleverly by the inclusion of multiple separate career events, Downhill Domination's Career mode takes a leaf from the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater book, offering you the chance to purchase new bike frames, wheels and more at a bike shop, using the cash that you'll inevitably earn by performing well in races. It's nicely set up but falls short in comparison to the Hawk's shop; you'll buy one or two of each type of upgrade, and that's it - you'll have your bike tooled up to the max.

The game's courses are absolutely huge, not only in length but in width. Each track is situated so that it runs down a hill - or more suitably, given the sheer size of the courses, a mountain - giving the game its title, Downhill Domination. The best thing about the courses is that you're almost completely unrestricted by where you choose to ride. For example, rather than follow the often subtle and slower main track, you're able to bunny hop over the barricades laden with eBay advertisements and hurtle towards the ground below, landing a huge distance in front of your opponents. Stray much too far off the track or fall down a chasm, however, and you'll be placed back in the race. The game's courses also bring with them a welcomed change of pace; you can say goodbye to the flat, long tracks of old - all throughout Downhill Domination you'll be flying off cliff faces and literally sliding down hills, each covered with obstacles ... (continued next page)