Generally speaking, if Red Bull and sporting are used in the same sentence, it's a recipe for thrills and spills. In Red Bull X-Fighters, you are placed in the shoes of a world-class motocross rider, who's taking to the world stage across a range of international locations - via the mechanism of the side-scrolling racer.
Releasing in the shadows of other side-scrolling motocross titles - such as Trials HD, and minigames like those found in Axel and Pixel - Red Bull X-Fighters is nothing new.
The left stick is used to balance your bike as you leap and bound along ramps and dirt mounds, fly through the air, plank your bike, or hanging off the back as you hurtle back towards the ground - gravity having the final say. Getting the right balance between acceleration and where your body sits on your bike is the key to success - not just to ensure you get good air-time and speed, but also to help you land your jumps properly.
A relatively small number of courses, all of which are short and made up of only a few jumps and a small number of tricks (20 in total to unlock), seriously limits the longevity of the title. It won’t be more than an hour or two to play through, if your hands can survive the bashing.
Timing tricks after launching yourself into the air isn't as easy as it should be. Press the buttons too early and nothing happens, too late and you won’t complete the trick. There's no obvious reason - bar some lazy coding, perhaps - which results in the potential to cause significant hair loss if you are so inclined.
The tricks require you to twist and gnarl your hands and fingers in ways you didn’t think possible. Pulling triggers, mashing buttons and balancing your bike all while enduring what seems like a relatively pointless endeavour. The only upside here is that getting the bike from start to finish is not that tricky, leaving you free to focus on your jumps - little consolation, we know.
The game doesn’t reward your progress in any tangible way, and it doesn’t give you that satisfied feeling when you do finally complete something - perhaps because the graphics are so decidedly average that the tricks you do pull off, even after several attempts, are pretty underwhelming. For a side-scroller we would have expected nicer graphics - especially as the developers arguably had less to focus on than if they were creating a fully interactive world, but this just hasn’t happened.
The biggest gap that glared embarrassingly back at us was the total lack of multiplayer. Sure, we can share our scores online with our friends, but this isn’t the same as having a real person pulling tricks right up there with you. Local multiplayer maybe? Even this is absent. It feels as though Red Bull X-Fighters is marketing gone mad, as though the Red Bull title would be a sure selling point by itself, and so little effort has been put into the game itself.
Red Bull X-Fighters disappoints - it plays more like a mini-game than it does a stand-alone title. The graphics and gameplay seriously let it down, and the lack of tracks and tricks means it’s got a very limited lifespan right out of the starting gate.
In this case the Red Bull label counts for nothing, and other unlicensed titles will give you far greater joy - like Trials HD, which offers better value for money and is much more fun to boot.
Downloadable arcade titles have evolved significantly in recent years, with some amazing titles now available for the platform. Unfortunately, Red Bull X-Fighters just doesn't measure up and is therefore destined to disappear without a trace amongst a wealth of other titles. If you are intent on giving it a go, grab the trial - but we recommend you think twice before purchasing this one.