Sony and Incog deliver big-time with the Downhill Domination, the first downhill mountain biking game for the PS2. Among its strengths is the huge variety of game play modes offered.
In single player mode, there are a number of different modes to choose from. The Single Event lets you take on any available course in one of three variations: Race, Freeride, and Time Trials. The Freeride is nice, because it allows you to familiarize yourself with the course without competition getting in the way. Once you get the gist of it, the Race mode pits you against the competition. This is a good place to gauge how many tricks you can pull and still win the race; something that you’ll need to know once you get into the Arcade and Career modes. Time trials are you against the clock.
Arcade mode lets you challenge 13 different events as you vie for the Downhill Domination Arcade Championship Cup. This mode is pretty straight-forward; you can’t purchase bike and rider upgrades, but you do earn cash for wins and tricks. Winning races in Arcade mode also unlocks some of the games bonus levels and features.
Career mode is where the real money’s at. You can choose a Specialized Career in either Freeride, Mountain Cross, Technical Downhill, or Freestyle. If that’s not enough for you, there’s the Super Career option, where you can take on 24 different events in all aspects of racing. Career mode also earns you big money that you can use to purchase bike and rider upgrades, as well as corporate sponsorships from the likes of Subaru, ebay(?), and Oakley. If I had to come up with one beef with the game, it would be all the advertising banners throughout the courses. Then again, that’s part of real racing, so who am I to complain?
The real beauty of Downhill Domination is in its graphics and controls. Using the same graphics engine as Twisted Metal: Black and this year’s War of the Monsters, Incog is able to create detailed environments, and an amazing sense of speed. Add to the natural detail of the courses factors like hikers, electrical storms, fog, wild animals, even the Russian military, and you’ve got some intense biking situations. Everything flows smoothly on the game, and despite all the detail, its actually pretty easy to see where you’re supposed to go.
The developers gave lots of leeway in the game’s controls. This translates into not crashing every time you take a turn at full speed. Don’t land your tricks right, though, and you will pay. Nice blood spatters add to the realism, as well as a crooked elbow now and then. Pulling tricks seems a little complicated at first, but spend 10 minutes in Training mode and you’ll get it down. Most tricks use shoulder-button combinations, which I found to be a good system. The manual includes a nice Quick Reference Guide of tricks as well. Tricks are where you can earn lots of cash, but blow too many and you’ll find yourself out of the race. The most important thing is finding the balance between how many tricks you can pull and still win the race.
The stock characters on the game are fictional, and offer different strengths and weaknesses. Along with all the other features to unlock, there are also five real-life pros that you can unlock and race with: Eric Carter, Tara Llanes, Richie Schley, Missy Giove, and Brian Lopes.
The Multiplayer modes are just as fun as playing solo. You can hook up a multi-tap and have up to four players. You can race head-to-head or add AI riders to the mix. The most fun I had with multiplayer was the Moshbowl. That’s right, one big bowl of ass-kicking, bone crunching fun. Super Jump is pretty sweet too, and is a great place to hone your trick-pulling skills. Dual Slalom is alright, and there are Arcade and Tournament modes for multiplayer as well.
Downhill Domination is a culmination of flawless graphics, smooth gameplay, and a huge variety of play modes. The realism in the speed and environments of the races adds to a game that would be tons of fun in its simplest form. With all the features there are to unlock, the game stays fresh and keeps you coming back for more action. I highly recommend this one to fans of racing games in general, as well as mountain bike enthusiasts. Kudos to Incog and Sony for not disappointing on this one!
All the fun of extreme mountain biking without the broken bones. Smooth game play, killer graphics, and a huge variety of tracks and tricks make Downhill Domination another winner from Incog Inc. In true Twisted Metal tradition, use weapons ranging from your fists to exploding water bottles to kick the competition to the dirt. The many game play modes also add to the depth of the game, keeping you coming back for more.
Rating: 9 Excellent
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.