The bikes, dirt, fast turns, launching off platforms, and hugging each turn as you speed past your opponents going 100mph. That is the essence of Dirt Bike racing. So far, I haven’t had much luck in finding a perfect Dirt Bike game so will XLab Technologlies present that perfect racing game? This app is available for $2.99 for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
This is a solid one. You tilt your phone to turn, you press the screen to gas or you can set up an auto acceleration option. With the proper settings, this is one of the best controls for a 3D racing game that I’ve played so far for the iDevice. The game puts you at nearly 100mph and there are tons of twists and turns on every path. Turning is surprisingly receptive and you can actually make the turn without slowing down or slamming into a brick wall. Its way more controllable then most games involving this style of driving, and it really helps to keep the game challenging yet fair.
You get a variety of different bikes with 12 different models, 5 tracks, everything in full 3D and a nice main menu consisting of your trailer home. It’s presented excellently. Background images flow well into the 3D and create a surprisingly realistic appearance for the iDevice and the models for the character looks really good. The textures, despite the grainy compression, look great while you run at full speed down the track. They are really on their way to justifying their price tag.
The enemy AI is strong if you set it, but they are completely incompetent on easy mode, which makes learning how to play the game much easier. All together, the sounds and the music during the main menu are well done and probably very accurate, though I haven’t done the research to find out.
There are a couple of issues that keep this from being a perfect app. For one, there is a real sensitivity on maps to respawn you back onto the track. You see, each time you run too far off the path, you get respawned to prevent a player from cutting right across turns and cheating. The problem comes that there are parts of the stage that places a ramp or a really sharp turn that will usually force you –slightly- off the track and you end up returning a few feet back and having to accelerate back to speed again. I was launched into a mountain by a ramp that was placed on a turn and got respawned back. The only way I found to avoid the respawn was to drive slowly around the ramp and return to normal speed from there.
Another is the wheelie mode. When you shake the iDevice towards you in an upward motion, the biker will do a wheelie. You can’t steer while in this mode and for whatever reason, I cannot drop back down. Your biker will run into a wall constantly because there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to drop back down. I end up having to activate the respawn just so I can race again.
I also wished that they would allow me to change the sensitivity of my bike’s steering in your options during gameplay. Instead, to adjust the proper settings, you have to quit the race, return to the main menu, then guide yourself to the options area to change something that requires multiple tweaking to get customized for every individual player. It’s an inconvenience that got annoying when my turning was too sensitive or too stiff.
As a whole package, this is a very nicely done game. The graphics and controls make the gameplay very entertaining but the map’s tendency to force respawns on you for –barely- going off track, inability to change sensitivity during gameplay, and a locked wheelie mode are still impactful to the game’s playability. I wished I could give this a perfect, but at the moment, Hardcore Dirt Bike is better than average, but not perfect yet. Looking forward to seeing this game’s updates so I can enjoy my motorbiking in the dirt more conveniently and even more enjoyably.
Here is a video demo of the Hardcore Dirt Bike app on the iPhone
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