Posted in PS2
Downhill Domination, arcade BMX racing down steep hills at ridiculous speeds all while trying to avoid obstacles and land tricks to gain the lead. Racing is loose and slippery but feels right, helping forgive the games fast pace. Courses are quirky and surprising with natural disasters, nature itself, police chases and the occasional Japanese men enjoying a nice sauna only to have insane racers burst though their rest and relaxation.
Mastering tricks while airborne is the key to refill an energy meter that can be used for sprinting, just try not to slam face first into the ground. Completing enough stunts fills a trick meter allowing riders a signature move. Tricks are performed using the shoulder buttons, and riskier tricks require releasing a players thumb from the right stick and press the triangle button, the rider will let go of even more of their bike mid trick. Tying physical release of the thumb-stick to the character releasing part of their bike creates a real connection to the action and risk taking happening on screen and is a great design touch.
In career mode later races pull up the difficultly by increasing the competitions speed and skill, this makes it very difficult to pull of tricks needed to maintain a lead. In the end with these more challenging elements it's easier to focus on the road ahead pulling off smaller tricks to keep your energy up instead of risking it, as the payoff is the same. Career mode requires enough points to move on tying success to individual race placement. Not a big deal at first, but it creates a punishing effect on the more difficult courses later.
After a few hours of play what your left with is a few different racing types going over the same tracks repeatedly. Over time racers phrases become intolerable.
Downhill Domination suffers the most from lacking a strong reward cycle. Players can upgrade their bike, though in only a few races have it maxed out with it's best possible configuration. There are other bonuses locked behind earning enough of the in-game currency, though It takes so long to earn those benefits I felt worn out before I got them. Fun and exciting at first Downhill Domination eventually falls into a monotonous loop, however it's solid gameplay mechanics might be enough to keep gamers coming back for more.