Enjoy bike culture? Avoid this game at all costs.
This game came to me in a dream. I was standing on a windy shoreline at night. Walking with no real destination when out of nowhere over the water a storm broke out. Violent and sudden. It was coming closer and would be awhile before I realized that the lights and roaring thunder nearing was no storm, after all. No angry maiden of the high seas, no sea monster nor ghost ship. It was a motorcycle. An American Chopper. Treading on the surface of the ocean like Jesus on steel wheels.
Upon my horrific realization I spun around and began running but the Chopper ran ashore too fast, leaving pure glass tire trails on the beach sand in its wake. Knowing it was no use I turned around to confront my faceless enemy as the phantom cycle drove right through me and disappeared. Leaving only a copy of American Chopper still warm in my hands. Singed on the edges. Both Paul Teutal and his son Paulie’s faces beckoning me to begin my career as a motorcycle designer.
For the first time in my life I hadn’t chose a game.
It chose me.
American Chopper for the PlayStation 2 was released on June 15th 2006. Developed by Creat Studios based out of St. Petersburg and Published by Activision.
The game itself is based on the popular reality tv series, American Chopper created by The Discovery Channel. American Chopper followed a custom motor cycle shop that was run by a father-son team (Paul and Paul Jr. Teutul) in the early 2000’s. They had gained national recognition for their skillfully crafted custom motorcycles and were also reality tv darlings for their constant father/son power struggles and explosive arguments over creative direction.
While the show was a critical and commercial success for a majority of its television run little can be said about the brands misadventures in the video game industry.
American Chopper is the bastard child of some board room hack that honestly should be put in prison.
The games plot begins with you being the new hire at OCC. Being low man on the totem pole you are required to do everything both Paulie and his father ask of you. The voice acting even though done by the real Teutals is painfully sad to hear. I have never heard more unenthused men play themselves in a video game. It’s almost as if they had played the game before they did the voice acting for it and were ashamed to be associated with this crime against humanity.
As the plot moves forward you go from mundane tasks like picking up spare parts for their bikes to basically motorcycle warfare with rival biker gangs. Even after all of this – pushing and kicking other bikers head on into the paths of Semi Trucks and murdering everything in your site upon completion of the mission you are generally only greeted by a small cut scene of Paul Sr still being disappointed with you. This game would have had more success if marketed as a Father Simulator.
I could be facing back to back life sentences for the things you people have ordered me to do. The least you could do is be nice to me.
More frustrating than the lack of recognition or approval from your employer is the general control scheme of the game as a whole. I have never rode a chopper or any large motorcycle for that matter. But I can safely assume that the turn radius of any sort of motorcycle is better than say I don’t know the Titanic? The bike handling is so ridiculous that it feels as if you’re trying to navigate a freighter through narrow city streets at stupid speeds. Almost every mission is timed and the learning curve is brutal.
One mission is particularly devastating as it requires near perfection at high speeds for a really long stretch of time. Slipping and sliding in between traffic, hard curves, and friendly bikers that constantly crash into you (which is held against you) – the mission itself has you white knuckling your controller for nearly 15 minutes straight. It was during long frustrating stretches like that one that I found myself wondering why I play games that aren’t fun. Now I’m no game programmer but I would imagine that’s not a thing you want your players wondering about when playing your game.
The best part about this game is a Clutch and Thornley song. One at the beginning video and one for the ending credits. The latter about the only time I was happy while this game was on a television in a room I was in.