FreekStyle

Quick Take - another look at EA's SSX-alike motocross title

Freek out, it's the Cube version of FreekStyle! Narly and all that. Still, what sort of port is it, and would it be one to spend one's hard-earned readies on? That ultimately depends on how much you like SSX, and specifically, the notion of SSX on a bike. Do you like it? Read on.

Street

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Catching some air

SSX on a bike, or FreekStyle to its friends, is an excellent idea flawed in its execution. The game suffers from too much repetition, a challenge that falls on the wrong side of hard and collision detection implemented by blind people. But on the other hand, it's a fast-paced, oft exciting game of motocross with stupendous tracks and the usual complement of boost features, insane stunts and "street" stylings, including a soundtrack which upset our delicate sensibilities but seems to have enthralled a lot of others.

The mechanics of FreekStyle remain unchanged for this port. You line up for a series of races in three stages each, with each stage consisting of three laps. So you perform nine increasingly difficult laps and if you place first at the end, you get the next track. Unfortunately, the chance of being pipped right at the post is very likely, and even if you do only have to repeat the stage (three laps), this has a tendency to mount up, and the gameplay dynamic isn't rewarding enough in itself to carry that amount of repetition. Before long though, if you persevere, you'll make it to the trick stages, which are neither Tony Hawk's nor SSX but still quite good fun, and then a series of gruelling one-time races to finish the game off.

As it's SSX, you spend most of the time building up your character's statistics and watching them pick fights with fellow competitors. Which isn't too bad, since you can choose to be voluptuous ladies (or simply bully them instead), and the same is true of the graphics on the whole - not too bad. The Cube version of the game has been given a bit of polish and sparkle, and the extra oomph the Cube can offer has solved the dodgy framerate problem which marred FreekStyle on the PS2. However, although you would expect a four-player split-screen option what with the Cube's multi port goodness and its enhanced ability to render the game decisively, the Cube port offers no such option. It's two-player or nothing. That said, multiplayer was an overlooked plus point for the original - although it doesn't elevate it above the status of an SSX wannabe, it does add a few hours to the longevity.

Conclusion

If you lap up everything SSX and liked the look of the PS2 original, FreekStyle will probably seem worthwhile. It's fast-paced, mostly enjoyable and quite engaging, but it does suffer from issues of repetition and, well, groovyness. There's only so much "street" "spirit" we can put up with, you know.

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