2020 may have been an awful year, but it has seen a surprising number of extreme sports simulators. I’ve already written at length about Session, Skater XL (here and here) and Drift 21, that’s two skateboarding games and a game trying to replicate the feeling of drifting a car realistically, now its BMX’s time in the limelight. Like all of those titles, BMX The Game is an Early Access title, so it’s another title for me to add to the list to return to at various points if I feel there’s been enough progress in the game’s development.
Like with the two skateboard games, BMX The Game gives you an area in order to pop tricks via the use of the analogue sticks. Again, we use the right stick, much like in EA’s Skate series, in order to prep and then perform your tricks, though they’ve gone with “traditional” steering mechanics here but assigning that to the left stick rather than your triggers. Those are used as a means to apply your brakes (giving you both a front and a back brake) with the A (or X on a PlayStation pad) being used to pedal. Everything is, at least on paper, as you’d expect.
However, the game’s response to your inputs is severely lacking. As best as I can tell, you have to prep early to get your bike/rider to do anything. I can’t tell if this is due to the weight of the bike and rider or some development issue. On Steam there are already notes and updates discussing input lag, so if this is an improvement it must have been pretty bad before, but at least that shows they’re working on it (though there have been rumblings within the games community about early supporters, before its Steam release, feeling like their support has been rewarded sufficiently and that the developers were strangely silent for a long time prior to this release).
The weight of the bike and rider is really satisfying I might add, but that also comes with its own issues, its really difficult to get any speed, let alone momentum going. Going up and down ramps and pipes seems to make no difference, and no matter how hard and for how long I hammered the pedal button, I just couldn’t seem to get any faster. Couple this with the unpredictable nature of how the rider responds to you trying to get them to hop the bike and that weight suddenly becomes frustrating rather than satisfying. Sure a BMX is far heavier than a skateboard, but its also capable of going faster and due to its larger wheels, carrying that speed for a longer distance, so it feels really wrong that BMX The Game hasn’t gotten this down.
Developer Barspin Studio’s seem to have put a lot of effort into the games cosmetics, which would be fine if the basics of their game worked as well as it should, people can criticise Skater XL and Session for lacking in content all they like, but both studio’s focus appears to be on their engines, Barspin are doing some work, that should be noted, but I also notice that their most recent patch was to bring in Halloween themed content, the notes for that update, again, do mention improvements to the physics model and inclusion of some new riding mechanics, but honestly, I’m really struggling to get this game to do anything. With the skateboard games, it felt like my ability was the big problem, here I just can’t even seem to regularly get the bike airborne to try any tricks out and that’s really displeasing.
Like with those other games, I’ll be keeping an eye on it, but as things stand, its probably more Drift 21 than Session.
Formats: PC (version tested)
Release Date: 28 August 2020
Publisher: Barspin Studios
Developer: Barspin Studios