If you aren’t aware of what Red Bull’s “Crashed Ice” event series is, then you’re missing out. In short, the sport of ice cross involves a bunch of ice skater types starting at the top of an icy track that contains all manner of twists, turns, bumps, and jumps, and they have to race to the finish line in the fastest possible time. Kind of a little like downhill mountain biking. Without the bike. And with skates. And ice. And…well, you get the picture.
The clock is generally used for qualification runs, with the final event being a much more adrenaline-filled affair. Here, four racers line up to push, shove, slip and slide their way down the ice in a mad rush to the finish.
The sport is madder than a box of frogs, and that’s what makes it the perfect candidate to make the jump to the gaming world.
Developed by Bongfish – the guys behind the half-decent snowboarding title Stoked – Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect takes the sport of ice cross and applies a bit of an arcade-like spin. Controls are simple but effective and generally nicely responsive, and the additions that the coders have added to the courses, such as all manner of obstacles, grind rails, and insane jumps make for an action-packed ride.
Five courses are provided here, with your Xbox Live Avatar being the daredevil that you’ll be controlling for the duration of the game. Each event consists of an easy timed qualification round, followed by much harder semi-final and final rounds against three other skaters. Those final rounds present the only control issues that we could see, as pushing and shoving the opposition doesn’t really seem to work all that well. Given that your goal is to avoid the opponents and get to the finish line as fast as you can, it isn’t really a big deal, but it would have been nice to be able to reliably throw some ‘bows in the direction of the head of that guy who keeps trying to trip us up.
Winning each event will be most players’ first order of business, but you’ll probably need to replay a track or two, given that the difficulty really does ramp up on the more taxing courses. Swinging your arms to skate is mighty tiring (although a fair workout) too, so Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect is unlikely to be a title that you’ll blast through in one session. If you’re aiming to pick up the 400 Gamerscore that’s on offer, or unlock all of the extra costume parts, you’ll need to take a break or two at the very least.
Given the low quality of some of the full-priced retail releases that we’ve covered, Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect is a bit of an eye-opener at just 400 Microsoft Points. Real-world competitors such as 7-time Ice Cross World Champion Jasper Felder are rendered in the Microsoft Avatar style, and the official Red Bull Crashed Ice soundtrack blasts away in the background, effectively making this a fully-licensed sports title.
At the price, Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect is a good deal. There’s a rough edge or two, and you won’t be playing it forever, but what’s on offer is surprisingly good fun.