“A Weak Entrant to XBLA”
An XboxHornet review by WDesm.
Red Bull X-Fighters is a single-player stunt bike game, where players have the opportunity to tackle wild courses all over the globe, competing against preset challenges or online leaderboards to score the best via stunts or speed, garnering fans and unlocking new gear. The sad thing is that such a sentence actually comprises the whole of the game – while there is very little “wrong” with Red Bull X-Fighters, it seems to offer little incentive to choose it over the far bigger, far more engaging, and far more expansive stunt bike precursor, Trials HD (or, if “new” is the only thing you care about, the upcoming sequel, Trials Evolution). What’s worse, is that any niche market that might be interested in a licensed stunt bike game is going to be disappointed, as the generic “career” mode that the game has doesn’t allow players to enjoy any of the sport’s famous names.
Starting with a basic tutorial, players are introduced to stunt biking 101: Build up a lot of speed, take a huge jump, and then do something very dangerous and stylish in order to impress a lot of people in the stands. The core fundamentals are all there, as the player starts on a slow “starter bike”, cruise down a jump, and then learn that the face buttons and shoulder buttons are all stunt buttons, and that pressing them in unique combos produces unique stunts. There’s no pattern that I could see to the stunts – it didn’t appear that “X” was always the right side of the bike or that “LT” was always inverted, but sheer muscle memory will be able to help you master your favourite stunts. Stunts only unlock once you’ve unlocked their introduction during the various challenges, so for the first few hours of gameplay, the load screens will be tantalizing teases of ridiculous feats that you can’t perform (seriously, surfing on a bike’s handlebar in mid-air? You’re just asking to screw up that landing, mister).
Finishing each level gives you Fans, depending on whether you did the bare minimum (usually graded in terms of points, for stunt levels, or speed, for time trials) to get a Bronze medal, or performed up to Silver or Gold caliber. Levels can be re-played for better scores, and replays add to your total fanbase (as opposed to simply taking your best score, so it is possible to “grind” for Fans). At various milestones, biker outfits (which are useless), stunt bikes (which vary in quality, but generally get faster and accelerate better as you upgrade), and scenic locations around the globe unlock for play, encouraging players to play their best.
I was a little surprised to see the price tag on Red Bull X-Fighters – with the heavy brand label, I expected it to come it at the lowest price point, 400 MSPoints, but the sheer barebones-edness of the title makes it hard to be justified at any price higher than that. With a lack of online challenge modes and only two base game types, it’s a hard sell to want to play this over the reining XBLA stunt bike champ. What the game has, it done competently – it just has half the game of the competition.
Game Score: 4.5/10.
Download a free demo of the game here.