Soaring high above a dirt track, with only a motorized bike to hang onto, the Red Bull X-Fighters are always looking to impress and amaze. One thing these real-life tricksters certainly lack is trepidation, as they soar into the air without showing fear.
This high-flying extreme sports spectacle has been digitized, releasing as the downloadable XBOX Live Arcade game, Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour. Developed by Xendex Holding GMBH and published by Konami, it’s a game which aims to bring high-flying motorized acrobatics to popularity, one download at a time. Though, the result is unfortunately a mixed bag, with control issues and mediocre gameplay detracting from the sport’s excitement factor.
What Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour presents is a selection of over-the-top tracks filled with extreme jumps, giving way to outrageous aerial pursuits. Essentially, it’s an even more arcade version of popular dirt biking games such as the discontinued MX vs. ATV series, mixed with the camera angles and side-scrolling flavour found in Excitebike and the challenge in Trials HD.
Driving from left to right, players must make good use of speed-burst inducing wheelies, in-flight maneuverability options and scary looking tricks, in order to meet specific event guidelines. Some tasks present challenging time limits for movement from point A to point B, while others require both speed and the performance of a couple of tricks in order to be conquered. The most action-packed of the three sets score-based parameters met only when great trick sequences are pulled off in mid-air.
The game’s career mode is split into three separate tours. There’s your main World Tour mode where the aforementioned three event types combine to create shows taking place in different worldly locations. The other two tours focus on only one event type, such as time-trial races. Adding a bit of extra replayability is a World Record mode featuring two different jump challenges: distance and height. Combined, all of these modes, along with the brief tutorial section, can be completed in just over a couple of hours. The quest to get gold records in each event is pretty challenging, providing reason to go back for those who wish to try to best their previously set scores.
All of this sounds great on paper. Heck, I usually really enjoy these games, having spent tons of hours with them throughout the years. Unfortunately, Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour suffers from some frustrating control issues and a lack of creativity, both of which mar what could have been a quality downloadable title at an affordable ten dollar price tag.
Its reliance on the use of wheelies to gain speed adds some strategy, while bringing with it a lack of precision and very easy unintentional crashes. Pressing back on the left joystick induces a wheelie, but the control mechanic is so temperamental that it’s more frustrating than fun. I can’t tell you how many times I flipped over backwards at the beginning of an event because of this.
When I first started my virtual high-flying career, I had trouble adjusting to the fact that the A button is used for gas. Having used the right trigger for that since I purchased my XBOX 360 several years ago, it felt odd. Though, once I started tinkering with the controls, I discovered that the right joystick could be used instead.
This button mapping idea isn’t something I’m holding against the game, as it’s just an observation. Where the controls really falter is with the supplied trick book. Instead of using a joystick maneuver or something along those lines, this game forces players to let go of the gas and almost everything else in order to use two hands to pull off a lot of its tricks. For example, some involve pressing two triggers and a shoulder button as well as Y and B. Needless to say, it’s not a comfortable mechanic, which makes it more difficult to string together great tricks than need be.
If the controls were more refined and less problematic, Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour would certainly be more fun. As it is, it’s merely an okay game with some frustrating elements included. It’s not bad per se, but it’s also nothing to write home about. The game’s structure, event types and general mechanics are all of the seen before variety, meaning there’s unfortunately no real innovation to be found. It’s unfortunate because there’s the potential for a much better game here. The building blocks are in place, but the constructed floors aren’t as polished as they could be.
Considering it’s a downloadable title, the game looks okay. It’s nothing revolutionary, nor does it have exceptional polish or effects. I was glad to see some creative track designs, themed based on the section of the world each event is taking place in.
However, the supplied male rider model is basic and uninspired with limited customization (by limited I mean that there are only different clothes to choose from). Additionally, the unlockable bikes themselves look alright and have pretty good, though exaggerated physics. The graphics do their job but won’t win any awards, which is okay. What is most important is that it runs well, without any hiccups or body work needing to be completed.
As one would expect, the game’s auditory department is filled with engines, crashes and a cheering crowd. All of that sounds pretty good. It’s the announcer and the repetitive score which become a bit grating after a while. The original rock-based soundtrack would be fine if it wasn’t used over and over again, with very little interest in variety.
What gets the most grating however, is the announcer himself, who says the exact same lines during each event. Examples include, “We’ve never seen anything like that before!” as well as something about the score being one of the highest posted at any given event. Strangely enough, he actually mentions the latter string of words when the player completes an event over the allotted time limit or with a score which is far too low. It makes no sense.
When I booted it up and proceeded to kickstart my virtual wheels’ engine, I had hopes that Red Bull X-Fighters: World Tour would be an enjoyable outing in the digitized world of extreme sports. That was only partially true, though. I had fun at times, when the game worked well. Pulling off insanely high jumps and creative tricks can be entertaining, though the game’s poor control scheme strips the fun away and adds on a coat of frustration instead.
This isn’t a bad game, but it’s also not something I can easily recommend as there are better games out there; titles which were borrowed from during this one’s development. In the end, it unfortunately hovers on the fulcrum of mediocrity. The bike sometimes sways towards the fun side, though it shifts back the opposite way just as many times, if not a bit more.
This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.
Unfortunately, control issues tarnish the fun factor found in Red Bull X-Fighters: World Tour and turn it into a wholly mediocre game.