Downhill Domination Review


Flying down the side of a mountain, hitting jumps and pulling stunts while trying your best not to hit a tree or rock.  The latest snowboarding game?  No, in this one you're on a bike and there's no snow to cushion your falls.  Downhill Domination is a mountain bike downhill racing game that's all extreme arcade action - a sport for the insane in the membrane crowd.  The courses are steep, filled with obstacles, and covered with rocks, cliffs, and ramps that you can use to launch yourself and pull off some aerial stunts.

While the basics of the game are pretty straightforward, point yourself downhill and go, Downhill Domination provides several different modes of play on three different types of courses.  There's TDH (technical downhill), which is a long course filled with jumps, alternate paths, and hidden shortcuts.  Next is FR (freestyle), a short and steep course with jumps designed to launch you over long stretches.  Finally there is MX (mountain cross), medium length courses with tight turns and narrow gaps designed to test your biking skills.  Each of the nine locations in the game has one of each of these course types, so in reality you get 27 different tracks.

Spend some time on the tracks and you'll soon see that Downhill Domination is not a serious racing sim.  The tracks are built more for speed, tricks, and fun than for technical precision, and are definitely designed with a tongue in cheek sense of humor.  The first two locations are familiar mountain biking territory, the Italian Alps and a Moab-like desert setting.  After that things start to get more fanciful, and you'll race along tracks which include lava flows, office buildings, and even the Russian military on maneuvers.  The emphasis is on fun and speed, and Downhill Domination delivers on these counts.  The tracks look fantastic and are filled with moving people, animals, and natural hazards, yet there is no hint of slowdown as you go barreling down the mountain.  The game conveys a great sense of speed, giving you a great white knuckle ride that will make you wince each time you hit a tree or other obstacle. 

The main goal of the races is to get to the bottom of the mountain first, but doing so in style will earn you bonus cash that can be spent to upgrade your bike or to purchase unlockables such as bonus riders, music, and game modes.  You'll earn cash for finishing in the top three spots, as well as for the stunts that you pull off.  Knocking other riders down with kicks, punches, or even by throwing water bottles at them will not only help you finish ahead of them, but will also earn you bonus cash at the end of the race.  Finally, courses have specially marked "Black Diamond" trails that require more skill to follow.  The more time you spend on these trails during a race, the more bonus cash you earn.