With a title like this, I was expecting a few more lasers, rockets and pew-pew noises. I knew that there is an extreme sport called X-Fighter, but I had never seen it before. Call me naive, but I was expecting a version of R-Type or Space Invaders with Red Bull branding.
So you can image my surprise when I booted up Red Bull X-Fighter and it turned out to be a sub-par version of Trials HD, a title I intend to refer heavily to in the coming review.
The only real difference, apart from the huge variation in quality, between this and Trials HD is that X-Fighter has tricks and stunts to pull off. While this may sound like an obvious choice for the genre, it does take away from the beautiful simplicity of what Trials HD has. You would have though that more complexity would add to the enjoyment, but in this case, that kind of logic just doesn’t hold.
There’s really not much to take away from X-Fighter, I’m sad to say. There are a string of what amount to training missions, and a lengthy campaign mode that unlocks a bunch of nigh-on meaningless additions. In all, when set against Trials HD, this looks paltry and anemic. For example, the control system is much less delicate, and relies on far more arbitrary physics. Similarly, it looks like it’s been knocked up in some developer’s garden shed. I don’t place a huge amount of importance on looks, but this really doesn’t look or feel anywhere near as good as it should, given the competition.
I guess you can get some fun out of this title if, for some reason, you don’t have Trials HD, or perhaps are simply nuts. With a toned down emphasis on physics, and more of an arcadey take on the sport, this has more of a pick-up-and-play feel to it. There’s a mere fraction of the addictiveness that it should have though, which kind of relegates it to the type of game you play while you wait for your girlfriend to get ready on a Friday night.
Once you’ve learned the full range of tricks – pretty much any combination of buttons will do something, and they all fit into two categories (held and one-shot tricks) – there’s no real emphasis to do anything but the bare minimum to get through the stage. Indeed, the courses rarely get so complex that you need to think too hard about them, and the tricks very much take centre stage. This is a good thing, though, because to rely on the racing alone would have been a dreadful mistake. Mainly because the racing is a bit poop.
In terms of race types, they’re pretty much what you would expect. Trick courses, timed courses and something in between. In this area, X-Fighter shows its lack of depth very clearly. Why not bring something new to the table? Even Doritos Crash Course had a level of novelty that made it that much more playable than it could have been.
There are positives, there really are, but none are enough to divert you from the dreary nature of the game at large. It is fun, and had it not been for Trials HD, I would have taken a much more lenient line on it. I don’t even think that this is going to be any kind of significant fun for those who like to watch X-Fighter, in the same way that it wasn’t necessarily the skaters that liked Tony Hawks (when it was good, anyway).
Trials HD paved the way for quirky racer/platformers on Xbox Live. Red Bull’s problem is that, unlike most hybrid genres, Trials HD pretty much nailed it on the first attempt, creating something of a quandary for any developer foolhardy enough to follow it. This is especially true given that Trials HD developer, RedLynx, has been more than diligent in providing users with regular updates via DLC. In short, not only are you buying into a n inferior product, you’re also buying into one that is, a) comparatively lacking in content, and b) will likely never have as much content as its main competitor.
Far be it from me to kick a dead horse while its vomiting blood in a gutter, but X-Fighters other problem compared to Trials HD is the social aspect. The chances are that all your Xbox Live chums have already clocked their best times and highest scores on Trials HD. Unless you go around their house with a tire iron and your hard drive, demanding they beat your high score on X-Fighters, your multiplayer experience is likely to be a very lonely one.
In essence, Trials HD blows this not only out of the water, but also out of the stratosphere. If you have Trials HD already, don’t bother with this. It’s not a terrible title, by any stretch, but compared to the competition, it’s a lame duck circling its way down the toilet bowl.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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