Reviews

Bike or Die! 2 Review

Review by Matt Dunn

The original Bike or Die! game from Toyspring has a 4-year legacy going right now. It was, and continues to be, one of the most popular PDA/cellphone games out there, and has a lively community behind it. With a brand new 3D graphics engine, the iPhone’s touch screen, and a massive amount of content, does the sequel live up to it’s predecessor? Duh.

Coolest. Lizard-biker-man. EVER.

For those not familiar with Bike or Die, it is a very similar concept to the free Jelly Car game that is currently available for the iPhone. With a “squishy” bike, you have to traverse dangerous terrain to either make it to the finish flag, or collect all the flags on the course. This is done by pedeling, braking, and rotating your biker in either direction. There is also a reverse button that lets you go from facing one direction to immediately facing the other. If you can master this button, you will do well in this game.

The concept is simple and the game is very easy to pickup and play. However, this game is TOUGH. I mean, like, spend-45-minutes-on-one-level-before-you-beat-it kind of tough! In fact, I had such a hard time with getting past the first few levels, that I actually contacted the developer to see if I was doing something wrong. The hint I got was to take my time at first, rather than try to go for the best time. These are wise words, but still didn’t make the game much easier. Fortunately, as with most games, the more you play, the more you get a the knack of controlling your biker, and the better the game gets.

So why is it so hard? Basically, your bike is made of Jell-O (not really, but RLY). If you go off a jump that’s slightly too high, the suspension is so loose that you will crash into the ground. The same applies to other objects that get in your path as well. This requires you to play very carefully, and put yourself at the best possible angle when you gain any sort of speed. This can get frustrating, but the crashes and ragdoll physics look great! I actually wish the crashes were a bit longer, as they tend to get cut off fairly quickly. The good news for those getting frustrated with a certain level, is that the next level is always available to you. You can also go back and play levels you’ve beaten at any time to practice or play against your ghost.

Yup. Im screwed.

Now that we have the whole difficulty thing out of way, lets talk about the massive amount of awesome that is Bike or Die 2! The game looks great. Good quality textures, and varying environments for the levels really keep things fresh. The graphics are colorful, crisp (for the most part), and most of all, smoooooth. There are absolutely zero framerate issues with this game. To top it off, the options for the graphics are rediculous! You can customize terrain textures, 3D or flat terrain, particle effects, blood on/off, contrast, and more. Definitely nice for those who want to preserve their battery. Also, some of the terrain options completely change the feel of the game. For instance, you can set it so the levels are made of just outlines, which gives the gameplay a crazy retro feel. Oh, and I should mention that you can pinch and zoom at any time while playing, or double tap to instantly zoom out. This is extremely useful.

The sound is also very good, with a descent selection of energetic music. The game even has a pop up to tell you the artist of the song when it starts in mid-game. The sound is also excellent, from the coasting sound of bike wheels, to the squeek of the suspension. Crashes sound painful, and there are fun little voice clips when you do flips, shocked crowds noises when you slam into something, etc. You can also set the game to allow iPod music to be played.

Just takin a little nap between races...

The real beauty of Bike or Die 2 comes from the massive amount of just… stuff, available to you right from the start. Your best replays are automaticalyl saved, and can be uploaded online (although at the moment, I can’t for the life of me figure out where they go…). You can also take a replay and us it as a ghost to play against on that level, which is awesome when trying to beat your best time. You can adjust zoom settings to move in or out depending on what you’re doing, and a slew of other things. However, the setting that has impressed me more than any game I’ve ever played on the iPhone, is the ability to manually map the on-screen buttons to WHEREVER YOU WANT. That’s right, in a style that looks just like rearranging your home screen, you can drag the game controls and arrange them however you want on the screen. This is simply brilliant, and is one of those things that will leave me wanting when (all) other iPhone games don’t have it. The game can even be played both vertically and with your phone sideways.

The game also comes with a complete biker/bike customization menu. Choose a boy or girl, and change the colors of their clothes and bike to whatever you want. In fact there are so many freaking options in this game, I would highly recommend spending plenty of time perusing them. It’s easy to miss something. (I had no idea bout the customization stuff until I saw the screenshot on iTunes!) You can even choose between wearing a hat, a helmet, or nothing. Since I live in California, where there are laws for everything, I had better stick to a helmet…

Bike or Die 2 is definitely a game that you’ll be playing a while. It is backward-compatible with over 2,500 levels that were made for the original game, and comes preloaded with tons of these level packs for players that can’t get online. That’s right, 2,500. If you’re online, you can download new level packs to your hearts content – all right from your phone! The only way this game will end for you is if you grow tired of it, and for most people, that won’t happen for a long time.

Presentation & Graphics

Very good graphics for an iPhone game. Not the best, but very good. Engine is smooth, with no lag at all. Levels are colorful and varied. Things can looks slightly blocky when zooming in.

Sound

Nice variety of music, and it’s actually good! Descent quality sound effects, from funny little voices to crunching crashes. Could use a bit more variety, but still does a good job.

Gameplay:

The difficulty of the game will make it extremely challenging, and most likely frustrating, for first-time players. However, once you get past the learning curve, it’s a slick and enjoyable game. The touch controls work well, and the ability to completely customize where the control buttons go on your screen is fantastic. Hitting jumps and doing tricks is a blast, but be sure to have a landing plan, because damn if that bike won’t plow you through the ground over and over and over…

Game life:

I haven’t seen single-player a game with this much replay value since Labrynth. 2,500 levels that can be downloaded right from the game is completely overwhelming, and completely awesome. Also, with all the graphics options, BoD2 can really take on an entirely new experience in several different ways. Finally, the challenge of the game will keep you coming back to improve your skills.

Game rating:

Final word:

Bike or Die! 2 is the most feature-rich iPhone gameI’ve ever played. It has nice 3D graphics, great sound, TONS of customization, over 2,500 levels to play, online video replays, online score boards… the list goes on and on! The only downside is the incredibly steep learning curve when you first start out the game. However, if you are looking for a challenging game that is a blast to play when you get the hang of it, and has a virtually endless stream of new levels and content, BoD2 is worth every penny of it’s $3.99 pricetag!

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