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Freekstyle

Developer: Page 44 Studios | Publisher:
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 06/17/02 | Genre: Driving

Freekstyle is without a doubt the best motocross game ever. There are tons of insane tricks, even more combos, imaginative tracks, big attitude, and fire. Lots of fire. For sure Freekstyle lives up to the EA BIG name we've all come to expect, but it also has some of the same flaws EA BIG games typically have. EA BIG games such as SSX and NBA Street have always been about tricks, big combos, and of course, imagination. A vast majority of the tricks in all EA BIG games are nearly impossible for any human to ever perform, but that's the appeal.

Freekstyle's graphics are very good, but not spectacular. The fire effects are incredibly realistic, and the videos between races contain some great visuals, but during gameplay for the most part they are nothing amazing. The jagged edges are pretty minimal, the detail is good, but like I say about most video games, there needs to be better lighting effects. The sound of this game is very nice, just as it's always been in EA BIG games. The entire soundtrack is by a rock band named Dry Cell. The songs are great and definitely complement the attitude of Freekstyle. The riders talk to each other during the race, usually when they pass each other or bump into one another. They also say things while in the air. Deegan's "I'm good!" is memorable. The revving of the engines sounds incredible, much like real motorcycles. The videos in between races feature some pretty funny dialogue between racers. The commentator is kind of cool and not as annoying as the guy from NBA Street.

Freekstyle's fun gameplay is the heart of the game, though. There are nine tracks and eight real-life riders, complete with different costumes, bikes, and attitude. Every track has many jumps, and the bigger the jumps the better. Many jumps are hundreds of feet tall, and from the time you leave the ground until you land you can pull off some pretty insane stunts. If you do a trick like the Nac-Nac by holding L1 and R1, by holding the tweak button at the same time (the square button), your rider will combine that with a Short Circuit. Every move can be combined with another by using tweak, but you need lots of air to do this. Another method of combining tricks is just to do a move like a Superman, then before you land hold L1 to do a No-Hander. When you combine moves in this manner it multiplies your trick score.

When you perform stunts successfully your "Freekout" meter increases. Once it's full, you can perform your "Freekout" move by holding all four trick buttons at once. I love doing Freekouts because in mid-air the action stops and the camera spins around your biker Matrix-style. As you are landing it is almost silent as the anticipation of your landing builds. When you build you have an extremely fast boost that lasts a few seconds. The great thing about the boost is if you keep doing tricks successfully your boost time will increase, so theoretically it is possible for the boost to last forever. The longer it lasts the farther ahead in the lead you'll be. That's the best part - you get rewarded for doing amazing tricks, and the boost you receive is critical in winning races. I usually have the boost button held in most of the race.

Circuit Mode is the main championship mode. Each track has to be completed three times, and they get more difficult as the game progresses. You have to finish in the top 3 for most of them, and in the main event of all races you must get first place to move on. The worst part is you must pass all three races of that level before you can save it. You can't save the game after every race; only after every three races. This is very annoying because you may have to play for hours and hours on end. If you have no life that is not a problem, but most people don't have that much time at once to spend on one game.

In addition to Circuit Mode there is freestyle and single race mode. In a two-player game you can do Head-to-Head, which is just a race, or there is Countdown. Each rider starts out with two million points. Those two million points count down to zero, but as you perform tricks the numbers rise accordingly. The first person who runs out of points is the loser. There is also Tag Mode, which is much like Tony Hawk's Graffiti mode. You trick off of objects and whoever has the most objects at the end wins. The track designs are completely insane. Jump over bridges, shrubbery, glass buildings, burning trees, launch pads, through fiery rings and more. The "Burn it Up" track is particularly memorable to me because there are two jumps that are hundreds of feet high and the biggest combos in the game can be performed there. It may even be possible for some riders to pull off two Freekouts in one jump on these jumps. I have never tried, so I don't know. If you played the game, you know what jumps I speak of. There seems to be a large emphasis placed on fire, which is appropriate for the sport. The fire effects look most realistic on Burn It Up. Fiery columns shoot up from the sides of the jump as you leave the ground. Some levels are frustrating, like Gnome Sweet Gnome. I explain below.

Although Freekstyle is amazing and all, it is not without flaws. Load times are still long like in other EA BIG games. Many objects can be collided with mid-air, and it can be very annoying. In the level Gnome Sweet Gnome there are two objects made of shrubbery, a crab and a rabbit. Passing between the claws of the crab is relatively easy, but the rabbit ears are very hard to go between. I usually go around the ears. The one part towards the beginning of the level there is a ring with glass in the middle, and if you pass through it while performing a trick, you get bonus points. However, I collide with the ring many times, or the game thinks I do, even when I clearly missed it. The windy road near the end of the race is annoying because I usually crash into the metal sides. Also, at some points I'll go off a jump and the rider just falls off the bike for no reason. I thought it had to do with balancing issues of the bike, but this happened a few times when I had perfect balance.

Another contradiction is the bonus box. On every level there are some. They are very annoying on the Burn it Up level. Where the bonus boxes are the dirt is very rough, and therefore your bike travels slowly, but you get bonus points for hitting the boxes. Why?

Overall Freekstyle is a very difficult game. I found myself re-trying tracks several times. I know the "Gnome Sweet Gnome" track I tried at least 30 times before beating. Don't be overwhelmed with what I have told you because the game is still very worth buying, and as with all EA BIG games, it's worth buying just for the two-player modes. Despite its difficulty and the few minor flaws, Freekstyle is extremely fun, and most people will not be satisfied with just a rental. This is definitely one of summer's titles to buy.

By Nate Weaver - 06/27/02
ESRB Details: Comic Mischief, Mild Language
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Screenshots for Freekstyle

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