Downhill Domination Review

Review Format:

Playstation 2

Unless you have a serious death wish, hurtling down a mountain at top speed on a bike isn’t very advisable. Thankfully the kind people at Codemasters have created a safer alternative to enjoy the pleasures of extreme biking with their new title ‘Downhill Domination’.

In a similar vein to snowboarding games such as ‘SSX Tricky’ and ‘Amped 2’, you charge down a variety of hazardous landscapes, scoring points and racing the opposition. There are many different single player careers to take part in, including Super career, free ride, Mountain cross, technical downhill, freestyle and arcade. You can even set up a custom tournament. Races take place on one of 27 courses across 9 huge mountains.

Fourteen bikers, including several unlockable ones, are available for your selection. Each offers unique attributes and characteristics, such as the football supporting Cosmo from the United Kingdom, and the basketball playing Ajax (Isn’t that a brand of bathroom cleaner?) from the USA.

There are 24 levels in Super Career mode alone, each with a different Worldly flavour and bursting with variety. One course starts at the top of a snowy mountaintop, and then takes you through dense fog, a small village, an underground tunnel system, and even a forest during a torrential rainstorm. Other locations include Oriental rooftops; a military occupied Russian stronghold, a Hawaiian lava flow, and ancient ruins. There are plenty of hidden routes and alternative tracks to take, so explore each course to find the quickest way to the finish line.

Besides natural hazards such as boulders, fog and falling ice, there are a variety of organic obstacles to avoid. Stampeding goats, bears, rabbits, hikers, cars, trains, tanks and sunbathers are some of the many location specific hazards trying to hamper your progress. The weather also plays a key factor, especially when a lightning storm starts a forest fire. When you crash, and believe me, you will crash, your character will leave behind a bloody reminder of their painful collision.

A number of performance-enhancing power-ups can be collected, improving your speed, power, energy and skill level. In a tribute to Road Rash, you can attack other racers using a variety of devastating kicks and punches. You can even throw your water bottle at people. Get an additional advantage by spending any earned race money in the Bike Shop. Upgrades to your bike include new wheels, frames and forks. Should you desire, you can also change your characters clothing and bike colour. Performing combinations of the 30 available aerial tricks during a race will earn points that can be transformed into additional money.

As the game is so addictive, you will probably get through the Super Career mode in a couple of days. You’ll be pleased to learn therefore that there are masses of extras to unlock including hidden tracks, bikes, characters, songs, video footage, and some wacky additional vehicles. Getting enough money to purchase all of these extras will take quite some time, and there are plenty of other careers to master. As you progress, you may acquire sponsorship from one of 12 companies. This will boast the amount of money earned for winning positions in races, and tricks performed.

Added to the impressive variety of single player modes, are some equally entertaining multiplayer options. Compete with up to four friends in a single event, Moshbowl, Super Jump, Arcade, custom tournament, or duel slalom event.

The in-game handling is pretty intuitive, giving you good control over your bike at critical moments. The computer A.I is refreshingly realistic as other players may crash into obstacles at any time, changing the momentum of the race. Pleasingly, a collision doesn’t bring the game play to a complete standstill, and you will be back on your feet in no time.

You aren’t endlessly penalised for failure to come first in a race. To progress to the next stage, 12 credits have to be collected. You earn fewer credits for lower finishing positions, but it is quite possible to advance through the game despite difficulties on particularly unforgiving terrain.

The graphics may not seem very impressive at first, but wait until you see the game running at full speed with multiple weather effects and objects flying at you. It’s fair to say that ‘Downhill Domination’ features some of the craziest level design that I have ever seen in a game of this type. You feel compelled to advance through the game just to see what the designers will throw at you next.

‘Downhill Domination’ is a pure adrenaline rush from start to finish, and a blast to play alone or with friends. Hard to put down and impossible to ignore, this game will keep you entertained well into the early hours.

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