Games featuring licensed properties don’t have a good history. From movie adaptations to weak cash-ins of children’s toys, these games are always met with skepticism and caution. The worst of the bunch are the games that are blatant marketing (especially those that feature a creepy guy in regal attire).
Unfortunately, Red Bull X-Fighters does nothing to improve the reputation of licensed games or, for that matter, Red Bull itself. The game focuses on Red Bull’s sponsorship of motocross and the high-flying antics of the real X-Fighters. While those daredevils soar, the digital representation of their athleticism and daring crashes to the ground with an uncountable number of broken bones.
The game has a great variety of game types that challenge players to beat target race times, score enough points by doing tricks to medal or both. As you travel around the world, you’ll compete in a number of events in each city, which take segments of the linear track littered with dirt hills, ramps and rings of fire. Completing events will earn you fans, unlocking new outfits, which are purely cosmetic, and new bikes, which are essential to improving scores.
The bikes are rated from one to three stars on speed and acceleration. While the game appears to be in 3D, it functions very much on a two-dimensional plane. The only control you will have over your rider is acceleration and how much he leans forward or back. While in the air, you will have the opportunity to pull off one-shot tricks, which take a specific amount of time, and prolonged tricks that can be held for as long as you’d like and released at any time. As is routine for trick-based games, you only get the points if you stick the landing.
The game slowly unlocks tricks as you progress through the “Tour Stops” mode. I found that some of the tricks were absolutely ridiculous to pull off, requiring four of the six buttons (RT, LT, RB, LB, Y, B) to execute. It was extremely difficult to remember which tricks corresponded to which button and there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which buttons tended to be involved in one-off tricks versus held positions.
The game controls acceptably well on the ground, but I found the air controls to be touchy, especially once you have the bike power to get far enough from the ground that you can’t see it. More than once, I had no idea of the relation between my bike and the angle of the ground I was soon to land on.
In addition to the Tour Stops mode, you can engage in Race Tour, which simply asks you to get from point A to point B on a linear, obstacle-filled track; Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour, which is a point-based competition; and World Record, which challenges players to go for the longest or highest jump.
Visually, the game just isn’t much to look at. The animations are flat. The crowd is barely animated, and the most enjoyment I got from looking at the game was when I managed to throw my rider from his bike. It was an accident, but I did get an achievement for it. The colors seem flat and the textures are shiny in a way I haven’t seen since the XBox 360 first launched.
The sound design is even worse. The music and sound effects are completely forgettable, but worse, the commentary makes absolutely no sense. The announcer sounds like he’s sleeping through the event and often remarks about new high scores when you haven’t even done well enough to earn a bronze. If I hadn’t heard that same erroneous bit of tired monologue multiple times, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. Unfortunately, there are only a small handful of spoken lines and you’ll grow tired of them in the first 10 minutes.
It’s a shame that Red Bull X-Fighters, which tries very hard to be like Trials HD, simply falls flat on its face. It doesn’t do the brand any favors and it certainly doesn’t respect the athletes who actually can pull off these amazing stunts. If trick-filled motocross is what you’re looking for in a game, there are better options out there.
Review copy provided by publisher.