Blue Shift
THQ
Action/Sports
1-2
10.23.02

Toxic Grind


When I first heard about Toxic Grind, I knew it was dubbed as the only BMX game with a story line. When I found out that it was going to be an Xbox exclusive title, I thought that it would make a fine addition to every Xbox owner’s library. I was right about it in the sense that it is a one of a kind, very unique game.

The game is set far into the future where extreme sports have been outlawed. And anyone caught doing an extreme sport like BMX riding are put on a game show called Toxic Grind. Since this game has a story line, the game show needs to get more riders for the show, and well, they use a time machine to get you, Jason Hayes to get the ratings up.

Gameplay

Much of the gameplay is similar to Acclaim's Dave Mirra, or Activision's Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX series. All of the usual moves and tricks are incorporated into the gameplay, but if you never played a BMX game before don't worry because there is a complete tutorial and you can learn all the moves there. The main mode in this game is the 1 player "Underground", where you compete against other riders. The main difference between Toxic Grind and other BMX game is in this game there is something called a Toxin meter. Once the meter fills all the way up, your dead. You are injected with this poisonous toxin, and the only way to stop it from going up is to get your adrenaline pumping. And the way to do that is, you guessed it, to do tricks and combos, and by collecting anti toxin throughout each level. If your still confused, just think of it as a timer, and in order to get more time you have to complete combos and such.

Besides the Underground mode, there are a few other modes including Arcade Mode, Pro Circuit, and Multi-Player. In arcade mode you can choose any of the tracks you previously completed from the Underground and play them whenever you want to. Pro Circuit let's you choose what tracks to play at in sequence, of ones that you have completed in Underground mode. This game can get very annoying for those you just want to play a game and not have to worry about spinning blades, death pits, and other things in the environment that will mess up your tricks.

Last but not least, the multiplayer. It's a good thing that Blue Shift included a multiplayer mode that includes several games to play that are Score War, Turf War, and Tug of War. Out of those, the one we had the most fun with was Tug of War. Each player starts off with 5,000 points, and you steal points by doing tricks, and you win when you reach 10,000 or more.

Graphics

The cut scenes in between the levels are in comic book style. Full of colors, and animated drawings. Picture that with an announcer in the background, and at the same time the picture is broken up by static. This adds a unique feel to the game, which is a good thing. While those scenes present to you a nice presentation, the actual gameplay graphics are nothing to go crazy about. The framerate remains smooth at all times with no slowdown, except for multiplayer for a few short seconds. When you fall, blood will gush out from all over like in Tony Hawk. The levels are built fairly large and each are unique, but nothing too stunning to see. There are a few things in the game that will pass by you, such as very low commercial airplanes. But another neat detail is three birds just hanging out, until you are about to run them over, they fly away. The graphics aren't going to blow you away, but the animations are decent. The player models are sharp and you can see your bikers face cleanly.

Sound

A nice little detail that I paid close attention to was the sound effect changes that occur when you are riding across different surfaces. For example, when you are riding on wood, the sound effect for your bike will be different than if you were riding on pavement, just like in real life. There's nothing like a riding over a hollow piece of wood and hearing it! The regular sounds of the biker, the landings, the falls, and grinds are nothing new, and they are all done nicely. The music for the most part goes with the game with its funky beats. The one thing that's great about this title is the option to use custom soundtracks.

Bottom Line:

This game may give you a feeling of an initial turnoff, that's because you have to get the concept down. After the first 2 levels, the game really picks up pace. After that, and then giving it some time, you may like it a lot more. If you can get past some of the early frustrations, then you will enjoy this game. Other than that, make sure you at least give this game a rental.

-Steve Melanson




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