Red Bull X-Fighters is an adrenaline rush without having to drink Red Bull

Posted: August 13, 2009 in Physics, Racer

I remember when I played Monster Trucks Nitro on my iPod Touch 2g, and feeling pretty disappointed at the lack of depth. The visuals looked great, but the game was over even before it started. With Red Bull X-Fighters, I not only have a game that has a ton of content, but it provides the rush that comes from doing crazy aerial acrobatics and throws in a heavy dose of agony when hitting a sandpile at full speed. This is Monster Trucks Nitro motocross style and significantly better.

While the 3D visuals in X-Fighters are amazingly presented, it’s the mechanics and physics that really deserve applause. A choice of tilt and touch buttons are available, although I highly recommend using tilt since they feel more responsive and natural. This game isn’t simply about doing tricks which I will get to shortly. It’s about balance and using intelligence when performing. The motorcycle auto accelerates which is both a good and bad thing, which you soon find out, although a brake button is included. Using the tilt to balance on your back wheel can increase speed even more, but the landing also requires some finesse. In other words, doing tricks may sound fun, but it won’t matter much if you can’t stick the landing.

The replay value comes from improving your score and earning trophies, but to be honest, the entertainment value comes from focusing on tricks and creating combos. The crashes are entertaining as well with the use of ragdoll physics for the biker. You’re almost not sure whether to laugh or feel sorry as he gets laid out on a sand dune or run over by his on motorcycle. Visually, the animation is smooth and detailed, and in my opinion, some of the best out there. The devs did a terrific job creating realistic visuals for tricks and the environments. You do feel like you’re really in a stadium with flashing lights and cheering crowds with edgy music rounding out the package.

The game has a multitude of tricks that are learned as you progress through each level. Each level is a short track that requires you to meet certain objectives to advance. These can be either be performing a certain number of tricks which earn points or are time specific in reaching the finish line. A gold, silver or bronze trophy can be earned, and scoring requirements are shown at the beginning of each level with a minimum bronze needed in order to unlock further levels.

The tricks are accomplished through specific finger swipes which take practice especially when you’re also balancing the bike as it lands. Memorizing finger swipes especially when there are 20 different tricks is not an easy task. What the devs have creatively done is included the tricks you’ve learned on the screen during gameplay so you can perform any number of them, and as levels are successfully completed, those tricks are added to your Trick Book. The Trick Book comes in handy because you can refer back as a refresher to see how tricks are performed.

X-Fighters also has an achievement system that provides awards for completing stunts, trophies won, and even for crashes. Sadly, I’ve already earned the Emergency Ward award for crashing so many times. The game also includes unlockable bikes and outfits that are earned through achievements and by gaining fans. For each race successful or not, fans are gained for your courage…or possibly for your insanity. The more successful you are, the more fans or following you will earn, thus unlocking additional items faster.

In addition, a detailed statistics page is provided that tracks everything from the basics (# of races, crashes, events) to the crazy (flips per jump, greatest combo, most painful crash). There are too many to list here, but believe me, there are plenty of neat stats.

The game also has a great tutorial covering the basics such as acceleration, handling and basic tricks. In all, there are 8 locations with 60 levels and from personal experience, will last quite a while. The camera work is done fairly well especially when you catch air, and you’re 75 feet in the air with the crowd below. And a rather neat addition is the demo function which provides run through of the course so you have an idea of how to prepare for each track. The game mechanics are not overly challenging to learn and are flexible enough that performing wheelies for example is a no brainer. But tilt too far back and you’ll get more than dirt in your face. I do wish the courses were longer because they are on the short side, and the finger gestures aren’t very forgiving. And succeed or crash, you can watch it all over again with the replay function available at the finish of each event.

X-Fighters is a fun and strangely addicting freestyle motocross game that is challenging and offers a strong adrenaline rush. While the game may not appeal to everyone, the multitude of tricks and acrobatics along with a ton of levels should keep those who venture this way occupied in what could be worthwhile experience.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (highly recommended for motocross and physics-game fans; slight learning curve with the controls, but plenty of depth; replay value in earning high scores and trophies)

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