Sometimes, games get canceled. It happens for a variety of reasons, but game publishers don't often own up to their cancellations. Instead, canned products--at least the low-profile ones--simply vanish off the radar, without notice. Gravity Games Bike: Street Vert Dirt was originally planned for release on all three major console platforms. Shortly after the PlayStation 2 release met with some of the worst reviews of the year, the GameCube version of the game was publicly canceled in a quarterly report from Midway. The Xbox version of the game, however, silently slipped off retailer preorder lists and was assumed to have met the same fate as its GameCube cousin. Yet a recent trip to the popular warehouse shopping haven Costco unearthed not only a great deal on 8,500 rolls of toilet paper for the price of $25.00, but also this gem of a game, in final packaging and officially licensed by Microsoft.
Wasn't this game canceled?
Wasn't it canceled? Why is it on shelves at a discount price of $19.99 but can be found only at this one particular chain? Midway obviously isn't terribly interested in talking about such an awful product, and we may never know the truth about how it finally came into being, but hey: Here it is. Midway's BMX game exists on the Xbox, and yes, it's just as awful as its PlayStation 2 predecessor.
Like Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX or Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, Gravity Games puts you in the role of a BMX biker and gives you a handful of levels to ride around in. Most of the levels have goals that must be accomplished to unlock later levels. Goals in this game include the obligatory score-based tasks, as well as item collection--in this case, each level has letters throughout it that, when collected, eventually spell the word "gravity." There are also level-specific goals, such as breaking 10 lights by grinding on them or freeing a "chick" who has been tied to a set of train tracks. Other levels are competition-based, and you simply must score highly with the judges to earn a medal and proceed. You are allowed to replay each level as many times as you like, but you can only play in three-minute chunks.
On paper, it sounds like just another clone of the other alternative sports games. But the execution is where Gravity Games loses all of its points. The control scheme is a bit like that in the Dave Mirra games, in principle. One button is used for doing tricks, while another can be used to modify those tricks, turning supermans into one-handed supermans and so on. But the control in this game is so insanely stiff that it's difficult to jump at the right time, let alone effectively do tricks. The jerky frame rate and drunken camera motion only serve to aggravate you even further. The timing on the trick modifiers is seemingly split-second--you'll have to bust out the modifier move almost instantaneously after performing the base trick. Grinds and stalls are stupidly easy to balance, and the game's trick system actually rewards you for doing one trick over and over again, meaning the easiest way to score points is to merely stall the bike on a lip and continually jump up and down, landing a lip trick each time.