Motorbikes are the Marmite of the racing world. Either you find them to be the epitome of power and style, or you think that 50-year old managerial types squeezed into 700 quid’s worth of leather is just too tacky to contemplate.
But quad bikes fit a different niche. These vehicles don’t seem to be considered any kind of transport. They’re a boy toy through and through, and although four wheels ought to be safer than two, their reputation for injury and destruction means most of us would prefer to ride a virtual quad than a real one.
So Xtreme Quad Racing is filling a specific but well-defined niche in the App Store, as powering it around a dirt track with nothing but your wits and a Kevlar-encased skull between you and the ground is generally a recipe for success.
Unfortunately, as Darxun Games demonstrates, it’s only a recipe for success when it accurately represents the boy toy experience. Xtreme Quad Racing undeniably looks the part, but plays like a lame duck.
Any racing fan would be forgiven for picking this game up on the strength of its visuals. Not only can you switch the view between first- and third-person perspectives (something gamers have quite strong personal preferences for), but both the scenery and the vehicles are stunningly rendered.
Graphically the quad biking action is beautifully represented. The tracks are quite diverse in their design and the textures really bring the undulating raceways to life. Neither does it neglect the roadside detail nor the far distance, such as settings and skyline. The locations are impressively vivid and lifelike.
But it’s the physics of the quad bikes themselves that let the game down. The accelerometer controls handle the throttle by tilting backward and forwards, and although there’s a sensitivity setting, Xtreme Quad Racing always seems to be just out of view whenever you put your foot down. Which is all the time, really.
The steering is reasonable, with a good power drift mechanic included to get you around the corners in style, but the movements of the quad bike are stilted and unconvincing. Jumping and hitting obstacles is coarse and unconvincing, while any close quarter encounters with the other riders offers no evidence of a half decent physics engine at work.
As imaginative as the courses are, their layout also leaves a lot to be desired. Bumps are placed on the track so you invariably jump into a bend, while the corners themselves seem to be on a completely different radius to the quad bike’s rather stilted turning circle.
All this conspires to make Xtreme Quad Racing as unplayable as it is attractive. It’s perhaps good news for Darxun that it worked out this way around, as the graphics would be harder to fix in an update, and there’s a possibility that the gameplay could yet be salvaged with some serious work.
But right now, it’s far too crude to recommend.