Freestyle Moto-X II
Does Freestyle Moto-X II soar like a 2-stroke 500 CC beast, or faceplant into the dirt?
Freestyle Moto-X II and I got off on the wrong foot. When I first loaded up the game and played the first few challenges I thought that its physics were wonky and made what would have been simple challenges needlessly complex. I was crashing all the time, didn't like the method for controlling my bike's orientation when in the air, and thought the trick system was shallow. After considerably more play time, Freestyle Moto-X II had completely won me over, although the trick system still could have used some depth.
Gameplay plays out via a large number of fairly short challenges. Even the longest, most involved missions don't take much more than 90 seconds to complete, and most are probably closer to 30 seconds. This makes the experience perfect for mobile play, but it also lends the entire package a strong "just one more challenge" feeling. The challenges also build on one another in an intelligent and logical way. You usually begin by racing through a short section of a track. Next you might be required to perform a set number of ground or aerial tricks on that same section. Then race over two sections put together, perform tricks over the areas, etc. After a few challenges I had built my way up to racing through entire tracks, while also having a checklist of required tricks to complete.
What makes the package so compelling is the surprisingly subtle controls. While I at first thought the game ran too slow and the controls were too sluggish to be much fun, I eventually learned that what was slow and sluggish wasn't the game itself, but just your initial bike. As you continue to clear challenges you gain access to new parts, engines, and other enhancements that can be switched in and out at will.
I'm not a gearhead, but I've played my share of console and mobile racing titles, and I've always found the "customization" aspects to be a bit of a farce. When I got new tires for my Gran Tourismo car, I couldn't tell a difference. But in Freestyle Moto-X II there are huge performance differences according to what you have equipped, and this made the experience much more rewarding for me. It was genuinely exciting to unlock mud tires or a more powerful engine because I knew I'd now be able to clear new missions that were previously too difficult.
The physics themselves also contribute to the fun factor. If you head into a jump holding back, putting your weight onto the back of the bike, you'll launch into a backflip immediately. Holding forward when headed up a ramp can launch you into a forward flip, unless you do it too early - in that case it can destroy your momentum. Another good example is your bike's orientation when you land. It isn't as simple as landing tires-first to avoid crashing - your landing position can have a positive or negative effect on your forward momentum Subtleties like this are abound, and there's more examples than I could possibly list. It doesn't ever feel "complex" however - it just feels "right."
Freestyle Moto-X II is great fun, but there's a couple things holding it back from greatness. The largest issue is the trick system. Tricks are accomplished via the softkeys, and isn't as intuitive as the bike controls themselves. It might have made more sense to tie in the trick system with the U,D,L,R controls. Perhaps you could tap specific sequences to pull of specific tricks, making the trick system less mindless, and still doable with one thumb (unlike the current setup). The bike upgrades menu is also needlessly confusing. Once you know what you're doing it's extremely satisfying, but it took me a long time to understand what equipment I had access to, what was currently equipped on my bike, etc.
What makes Freestyle Moto-X II great is its extreme focus. I don't view the lack of traditional races (you only race against the clock, never against opponents), a point system, or other things Motocross games "need" to have as a negative at all. The developers knew what they wanted to accomplish, and by excising everything else from the design document was able to accomplish their goal of creating a tremendously fun experience. Give it a shot.
What's Hot: Excellent physics model creates a fun, deep racing experience
What's Not: Trick system could have been better