I cannot lie. My first half hour or so with Bike Mayhem 2 left me debating why on earth I was sat there playing a load of old tosh.
From initially firing the game up, I was dismayed by the overall feel of the gameplay, the horrible close camera and the huge degree of ‘luck’ that was required to compete at a decent level. Shortly after, I was left frustrated by the obvious mobile feel that has been left in (so much so that I’ve been asked to ‘rate the game’ before being hurried back by the Xbox One Games Store), whilst what little enthusiasm that was left in my body struggled to leave me excited about the latest ‘bike’ title to rock up onto the Xbox One Games Store
But over time I began to understand and slowly actually like much of what is included in Bike Mayhem 2. Well, ‘like’ is a bit of a strong word. I did however grow to accept Bike Mayhem 2’s place on Xbox One. Just about. Ish.
Other than the stunning visuals and brilliant musical accompaniment, there is absolutely nothing that makes it stand out above, not only other games in the genre, but any other title that is currently available on the Xbox One Games Store. Chances are I’ll never find myself thinking about going back to play it again. But it isn’t actually as bad as I initially thought.
Bike Mayhem 2 sits you astride your regular every day downhill pushbike with one main goal. Get to the finish line as fast as you can. Well, actually I tell another lie for occasionally you’ll need to pull off a number of basic tricks on your way. Initially looking like a poor man’s Trials, Bike Mayhem 2 plays out near on exactly like those first thoughts. It’s not in any way as polished as RedLynx’s stunners but for the price, was never really going to go head-to-head with Fusion. Instead, it is in place for those who just fancy something a little different; something which you can sit in front of for 10 minutes at a time, mindlessly holding down the RT button, building up your momentum and mashing the ‘pedal pump’ button as fast as you can in order to complete whatever objective lays in front of you.
Ultimately, Bike Mayhem 2 comes down to these two actions and aside from the odd movement in bike orientation, the first 50% of the game’s levels can be played in such a way. They are that easy.
Indeed, whilst there are tons of tracks available, and a solo campaign that will keep you going for some time, the tracks that are found in the opening ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ stages won’t in any way test the skills of even the worst gamer, allowing the vast majority of controller fiends to plough their way through with little effort. Granted, things definitely step up a gear once the ‘Black’ and ‘Red’ mountains get into play with you actually needing to give two damns about the positioning of your bike whenever you find your strange pedaler taking to the air, pulling off boring tricks in the process. But whether you’ll still be bothering to play Bike Mayhem 2 at that point, I’m really not too sure.
Many of the issues come about due to the sheer horrid camera scale. For a game that will eventually rely on quick actions, the camera is far too close to allow any sort of skill level to shine through. Going along on a constant downhill is just about bearable, but should you even attempt to allow your guy to show off his tricks, you’ll never know when, where or how the land before you is going to appear. Even then, hit the hard stuff with a little too much gutso, and he’ll be flinging his way across space as the ragdoll physics take hold. Massively and completely irregularly.
Numerous checkpoints are in place, and with the tracks all running very short (and quite easily completed within 30 seconds or so), bailing isn’t too much of an issue. At least not when it comes to having to redo sections. Face-planting does however have a huge impact on your overall score and with three stars available for completion depending on your time or skill score, the fact that even a single fall restricts you to one star only is hard to bear.
To help you on your way, Bike Mayhem 2 has seen five ‘boosters’ included. These range from a higher top speed, to a score multiplier, extra energy for those times when the pedal pumping has all but expired and an increase to your crash resistance. It is completely up to you to how many boosters you wish to equip at once, but they are all one-shot affairs, lost as soon as a course is completed. Or restarted. You’ll find that they replenish every day, but when that is god only knows. It’s certainly not at midnight UK time and my frustration with Bike Mayhem 2 reached new heights the morning after a session from the night before. There are times when you will need a boost in order to complete a track, unlocking further ones, and even though the kind thoughtful message states that boosters will be replenished daily, it’s all a bit of a lie.
Dropping out of the solo campaign for a bit and hitting the multiplayer side of the game doesn’t see Bike Mayhem 2 fare an awful lot better either. The premise is good, but with just the two game modes found in the single player side of things making their way over to the multiplayer scene, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this has just been tacked on for ‘multiplayers’ sake. Sending challenges out to friends, setting a time or tricks score on a chosen track and then seeing if they can beat it sounds good in theory, but a couple of weeks in, and having sent out numerous challenges to both friends and strangers around the world in the quick match option, I have still to see a single reply to my offers. Perhaps my times and scores are too good, scaring away the opposition. Or perhaps those few who have bought the game upon its release have already ditched it in favour of something better. I’m going with the latter.
So, Bike Mayhem 2 hasn’t yet set the world alight but there is one thing that just about helps it move up a notch in the overall ratings, something which helps it move up to something approaching average. Its track creation tool.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have the time nor the patience for spending hours at a time creating diverse, unique tracks in order to send them to others to play. I do however enjoy checking out creations made by others and this is no more true than with Bike Mayhem 2.
With a ton of tracks already available to play in the single player mode, you may not think it necessary to check out the offerings from the Xbox One community, but there are some stunning delights in there, bringing about some much needed fun. Downloading new tracks from those who have spent the time creating masterpieces is easy – as is creating your own and getting those uploaded. It’s not in any way ‘in depth’, and the tools again initially seem a bit rudimentary, but for a fun five minutes, gives you a decent reason to get away from the numbing monotony that comes about from the game proper. But as with much of the rest of the game, you’re only going to be bothering with it in short sharp doses, over the course of a day or so. After which you’ll be looking for something much better to get involved with.
So, Bike Mayhem 2 doesn’t tear up any trees and brings next to nothing new to the two wheeled time challenge scene. Admittedly, the hard, fast rock music is great and the inclusion of numerous unlockable gear with a whole load of new helmets, shirts and trousers – none of which make a jot of difference on the gameplay – is a nice touch. If you’re down with the bike scene, you’ll find that you are able to trick your bike out with new frames and wheelsets, all of which will bring various top speeds, acceleration stats and trick levels. But even the most ardent Specialized fan will struggle to get excited about sticking their favourite branded frame on.
If you’re in dire need of something other than Trials Fusion, then for the price Bike Mayhem 2 may just suffice. In the end though, it’s probably best you get on the phone to RedLynx right now and get them to sort something new out.
Related: Let’s Play Bike Mayhem 2 on Xbox One!