Less open minded gamers will groan at the sight of mobile ports, but they absolutely have a place on consoles. Games such as Pumped BMX+ have shown that the best mobile games can shine on Xbox One, as long as they're brought over with care. Sadly, not every developer ports their games with the care that Curve Digital does, and that leads us to Bike Mayhem 2.
Similar to other platform racers, such as Trials Evolution or the Game Boy classic Motocross Maniacs, Goldmark Studios' latest has players racing down towards the bottom of dangerous courses filled with hazards. Stages are divided into two different categories, freestyle or time trial, so players will either need to perform tricks to top a score or beat a timer in order to progress. It's all pretty mundane, and stuff we've seen before from other games.
The control layout will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played a Trials game, but there are some unique twists that make Bike Mayhem 2 feel like its own entity. While you'll still be tilting your character with the left stick in order to stick landings, you'll also have to balance your rider's energy. Constantly pedaling your bike will cause exhaustion, so you'll have to let go and glide down hills. You can even make your rider pump to gain speed downhill, which is the most interesting mechanic in the game. It's the only modicum of depth in what is otherwise a very shallow title. Finally, tricks are done by simply pushing the right stick in any direction.
Where Bike Mayhem 2 gets into trouble is that the game's level layouts are just not interesting to play. You never feel like you just went through an amazing obstacle course, nor do you feel any excitement that mountain biking normally causes. You're just going over standard jumps over and over until you reach the finish line. Not only are the layouts subpar, the backgrounds are repetitive to the point where it seems like you're going down the same four different forest areas over and over. There's only one interesting locale, a Brazilian favela, in the game's 30+ mountains, with the vast majority being dreadfully boring.
Each stage features three stars to earn, but instead of different goals, players are just asked to beat faster times to achieve them. This really hurts the game's replayability, as you won't want to ever better your scores since the game just isn't fun. Having specific goals that required you to do specific tricks or collect items would've benefited the game, as it becomes dull rather quickly when you're always asked to either go fast or do tricks. On the bright side, the stars do unlock new bike parts which you can equip (although not until you back all the way out into the main menu first) to make your bike faster and stronger as if it was The Six Million Dollar Man himself.
Since the levels provided by the game itself are rather dire, you might be glad to know that there's an included track editor. Sadly, due to the tool set being hard to use, and the fact that you have to use an Xbox One controller, it's difficult to make a good stage. You can still manage to make something more interesting than what's included, but it's time you could be spending on an actual good game. If you don't want to make your own courses, you can download mountains made by other players. Currently, some of the top rated mountains have names like "Kush" and "You Mad," so at least you know what you're getting into.
There's also a rather forgettable online mechanic that will let you challenge other players to asynchronous matches. One player will set a time, or a high score, and then the other player can choose to try to beat it if they wish. What makes this slightly better than just looking at an online leaderboard, is that you can actually see the other player's ghost (at least if you were the one who was challenged).
While most of what Bike Mayhem 2 has to offer is just boring, or mediocre, it's mobile roots are truly horrid. An in-game boost system, which will allow you to go faster on a particular stage or apply a score multiplier, is still in effect from the original game. While that wouldn't be a negative, as it simply makes tough stages easier to do, the game instead only allows players to use a few boosts until they have to wait a full day for them to regenerate. Yes, the game you spent money on has energy mechanics as if it's a free-to-play game. Thankfully, there aren't any microtransactions to be found, but it's still not fun to see.
The game will also ask players to rate the game on the Xbox Store in between levels, which is equally disgusting. We're not sure who looks at Xbox Store ratings to determine what they buy, as they should obviously be going off of Pure Xbox's reviews (!), but trying to pester gamers to score a product they already bought is gross. This shouldn't be an acceptable practice.
Bike Mayhem 2 is the opposite of going mountain bike riding. There's no exhilaration to be had, just boredom, as the game never seems to end. The uphill climb is littered with free-to-play aspects that would be barely tolerable on mobile, let alone on a console where players paid money to play. Sadly, there is no payoff for aspiring bikers, and this is one downloadable title that is better off in the dirt.
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