Say what you like about extreme sports games, but you can't deny that they make you feel cool. SSX and Tony Hawk's have always made us feel like we could bust out sweet tricks with the best of them.
Bullshit. We'd end up arse over tit quicker than Britney's marriage. We can ride bikes though, so we felt comfortable with Downhill Domination from the start.
The Local Bike
Although that could've been because we've seen this type of game so many times before. You know the drill - choose 'cool' character, race down mountainside, do tricks, unlock stuff. Three race modes keep things at least a wee bit fresh: Freeride is a straight burn down the mountain, Technical Downhill is steep and twisty, and Mountain X has enough lumps and bumps to make the Elephant Man's head look silky smooth.
The tracks are bone-shakingly good, with enough downhill speed over rough terrain to ensure your battered nuts shut down their baby juice factories permanently. You're free to ride over every last inch of hillside, sticking to the dirt tracks or venturing into the bracken for shortcuts and speed boosts. It's fast, fun and free-roaming, and when you're hurtling through narrow forest paths at 70 kph there's a brilliant sensation of danger that'll make your nipsy clench tight enough to crimp off barbed wire.
Pedal Of Honour
First to the finish line wins, but you don't have to play fair to pick up points. Attacking your rivals with fists, feet and bottles will earn you stacks of cash and earn them a crispy bit of road rash. The big money comes from tricks - get some air and you can pull off motocross-style acrobatics by holding combos of the shoulder buttons SSX-style. It works well, but the lack of pyrotechnics means you never get that "holy shit look what I just did" feeling.
And that's Downhill Domination's all over - it just doesn't make you feel cool. There's just not enough attitude to elevate the standard gameplay above average and after the style and sheen of SSX3 and THUG this looks second rate. It's fun to play and there's loads to unlock, but you'd be better getting piste with SSX than rattling down Domination's mountain trails.
It's got great tracks and a cracking sensation of speed, but Downhill Domination just isn't good enough, or cool enough, to make us fall head over handlebars in love with it.