STAFF REVIEW of American Chopper (Xbox)


Thursday, December 16, 2004.
by Chr0nik

American Chopper Box art American Chopper for Xbox provides a platform for console players to build and ride personalized choppers. Challenge your race skills on a variety of missions while earning valuable style points to put forward to unlock new bikes along your journey. Taking the idea from the top-rated television series American Chopper, players will help the show\'s stars Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. build some of the craziest bikes on the road. Your player will get to ride the signature theme bikes as seen on the show such as the POW/MIA Bike, Black Widow Bike, Jet Bike, or you can create your very own customized choppers and then put them to the test. Players will experience true to life physics and handling as they cruise through each adventure.


Where to start? When creating a game like American Chopper, there are a few things that need to come to mind. First thing is that you are competing with other highly rated and popular games including the Need for Speed Underground series. Players are going to want great game play as well as a vast choice of customization options that you would see on the road and in the shop. Unfortunately, American Chopper fails poorly in both areas. Game play is dry and offers nothing innovative. There are two modes: Instant mode, and Career mode. Instant mode is simply a mode that allows you to play levels that you have managed to unlock in the game. Career mode is a watered down story mode that really lacks innovation and design. You find yourself starting off with mini-missions that are repetitive and seem some what kind of cheesy seeing that they have no correlation with the actual television show. The missions mainly consist of things like fighting off opposing bikers, poker runs, performing chicken style maneuvers with your bike, racing against the other members of OCC, etc. The game play utilizes style points which borrow itself from the Kudos points system awarded in PGR. Pulling off moves and tricks earn you style points. You accumulate style points for use later on to purchase bike upgrades and customizations. Unfortunately, riding the bike and accumulating enough points to acquire a worth while reward is somewhat frustrating and difficult. I got a kick out of the first few minutes of game play, but the concept got old very fast. The process of building and customizing bikes only starts later on in the game. By this time, you most likely have put this game back into its case and have forgotten about it. The game really left me with a feeling of emptiness. I was like, hey how is this anything like the TV show? I feel like this game tried to combine aspects of PGR, NFSU, with some GTA. It was a mix that was left in the blender for too long and became an unrecognizable mess.


The visuals and graphics in this game are a major letdown. I thought that a game based on beautiful bikes would have maybe paid some attention to the graphics. Graphics are choppy and jagged edges rule the screen as you race down seemingly endless missions. I felt like I was playing this game on an old Nintendo 64. American Chopper does not come close to using the potential of the Xbox graphics capabilities. I expected to see high resolution models of bikes, shimmering paint jobs, intricate detailing. I was left with a cheap looking representation of a motorbike. Player models are fairly represented, but again are missing detail and polish. There is honestly no excuse for developers to be putting out games that look this terrible. Playing this game on a 53 inch HDTV with the High definition pack A/V pack was not even able to salvage the visuals of this game.


The sound in American Chopper is nothing out of the ordinary. The Chopper sounds are fairly represented. They are not spectacular, but do the job. I was nowhere near knocked out of my chair by the realism as I was expecting, but it was enough to give me the feeling of riding an OCC Chopper down a two lane highway with my hair flowing in the wind. The in-game music and sound is mediocre and average at best. Voice over is done nicely. I felt like I was in the room with Paul Sr. I expected to hear and see some of the classic father-son squabbling between Paul Sr and Paul Jr, but that seems to have been omitted from the game. Another big problem, where are my custom soundtracks? Why are game developers not letting us use this well liked feature of the Xbox? The dinky rock tracks presented in this game really dont do justice to the biker theme of the game.


Suggestions:
Mediocrity seems to be the overall summary of American Chopper. I would have to say that overall this game was a big disappointment. True American Chopper fans and die hard motorcycle enthusiasts may be able to get more lifetime out of this game, but too the casual gamer, American Chopper does not deliver the goods. The game is a mish mash of already existing titles that seems to have been hastily thrown together to feed off the popularity of the television series. Playing this game for more than an hour is a truly challenging task. I am really disappointed that more time and effort was not put into this game seeing the potential that the OCC franchise has shown to casual bike enthusiasts. At least this game has one bright spot, a 29,99$ retail price tag.


Overall: 4.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 4.0 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10

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