Game Reviews

Red Bull X-Fighters

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Red Bull X-Fighters

There are a lot of achievements for players to unlock in Red Bull X-Fighters, but perhaps the most telling one for this flat tyre of a motocross game is Impatience.

Thanks to a heartless combination of overly demanding score targets, unpredictable physics, and countless opportunities to end up face down in the earth, it’s not surprising that the most familiar button to players will be (the Impatient) Restart.

Revved for success

X-Fighters does a fair job of replicating the insane, gravity-defying stunts of the real-world Red Bull competition in a style that’s undeniably ‘reminiscent’ of Xbox Live sensation Trials HD.

Just like the Trials series, and hit handheld replicas such as Moto X Mayhem, basic play revolves around safely guiding a 2D bike from one end of the 3D, jump-filled track to the other.

Mere survival won’t take you too far, though - progress in Red Bull X-Fighters relies on your winning bronze, silver, or gold medals by performing ludicrous sequences of stunts.

You start off learning the ropes with a series of Basics challenges, which introduce you to the controls and different disciplines (from high score-chasing Freestyle contests to more skill-specific Wheelie, Flipper, and Time Trial exploits).

You can then enter events in four themed international arenas (Mexico, Egypt, Moscow, and Rome), with each needing to be unlocked in turn before you can participate in the mighty X-Fighters tournament itself.

Tumbling in the air

While acceleration is handled automatically in Red Bull X-Fighters, you control your bike using the tried-and-tested Trials system of weight balancing.

You, therefore, have to either lean back by tapping or holding the left of the screen, thereby raising the front for a wheelie, or push forwards using the right, lifting the rear wheel in the process.

It seems simple enough until you hit a bump in the road - of which there are many - and immediately flip the rider head over heels, and out of the race.

Games like this need a solid physics engine, one that makes every movement feel like a delicate, near balletic performance. It’s a shame then that Red Bull X-Fighters has only a passing interest in Newton’s laws, and often feels downright broken.

Even after a couple of hour’s practice, every move feels twitchy and unpredictable, making each landing a matter of divine luck rather than skill.

Life insurance required

To further complicate proceedings, every time the bike is in the air you’re duty bound to pull off as many physics-defying stunts as possible before plummeting to earth.

Tapping a flashing icon while in the air slows time to a crawl, giving you a chance to a select a stunt from a drop-down list, which the rider then carries out to the letter - irrespective of how close his neck is to the ground.

Of course, thanks to the imprecise physics, your chances of pulling off enough of these stunts and meeting the dizzying score targets are slim to say the least.

Sadly, while developer Xendex GmbH has put a lot of effort into visually aping the high-flying, death-defying motocross thrills of Trials HD, the unreliable controls and a bone-crunching difficulty curve soon siphons off the game’s limited appeal.

Red Bull X-Fighters

While there’s lots of flashy, two-wheeled stunt appeal here, the clumsy game engine will make mincemeat of most players before X-Fighters really gets to show off