If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
That has been the motto for many gamers across the years, with multiple gaming opportunities seeing our skills tested to the limit. This is perhaps no more true than with the brilliant Trials series of games, as we would be tasked with sitting astride a bike and requested to make it to the end of an increasingly difficult obstacle course. It proved to be a winner, spawning many sequels and allowing further developers to work with the same idea.
That is where Shred! 2 – ft Sam Pilgrim comes in, taking everything that has been learnt from the skills-based Trials-type games and twisting things up with a mountain biking/downhill vibe. It works too, and while it doesn’t have the same glitz and glamour of a fully fledged up-market indie title, for a bit of fun to keep you gaming into the wee hours, or a fast five-minute hit, it more than does the job.
Shred! 2 – ft Sam Pilgrim has been created by the team at ASBO Interactive, with them then also collaborating with the mountain bike legend Sam Pilgrim himself, as we are placed into his world and taught the ropes in the hope that we too can become a world champion bike rider.
Action is spread across a campaign, which itself is split into five unique parts: we first visit a Trail Centre which works as an opening tutorial, before we are thrust off to the lands of High Alpine, the UK and then the USA. Prove your worth on each of these and an extra special Shred event opens up, delivering even more madness and additional tests of your bike handling skills.
Things start off easy enough as Shred! 2 allows you to get to grips with the basics needed; a swift hold of the right trigger will see Pilgrim spinning his legs and pedalling forward on his bike, hold the A button and that pedalling turns into a pump action, as you prepare for the free-flowing, handcrafted jumps, lumps, and bumps that lie ahead. Working with momentum, pedalling, pumping and freewheeling as you go is key to any form of success in Shred! 2, and without it – or with a little bit of mistiming of button presses – Sam will find himself wiping out and left in a heap on the floor. Thankfully a super quick reset is possible at any time with a hit of the Y button, taking you back to the very start of the course you are on, left to try again. Yep – there are no checkpoints here.
Each of the routes and courses found in Shred! 2 are short affairs, with many taking mere seconds to complete and even the lengthier ones coming up short of a minute. Due to this, restarting and re-planning rarely see frustrations take hold, and much like attempting to nail tricks in Tony Hawks, or smashing a large jump in Trials, it’ll only be by making multiple runs will true success be met.
Get the basics down to a tee and you’ll want – and need – to start throwing some shapes, with tricks, flips, spins and rotates all easily accessible. Actioned by utilising a combination of bumper presses and thumbstick movement, pulling off a tailwhip, a barspin or nailing a superman pose are all simple stuff as you take to the air – just as long as you remember to get out of the move and back on your bike before your wheels hit the ground. Each move you make ensures your score for the course increases, whilst tweaking and tricking these by holding them for a longer period of time, or by combining them with 360s or flips, sees these numbers increase.
You’ll occasionally need to work on ensuring you finish the level with a high score too, as each stage comes with its own challenges. Yep, in good old skills-based fashion, making it to the end of a stage is rarely enough for glory in Shred! 2 and you’ll need to complete a number of challenges along the way. These may be points-based, or see you requiring to pull off a specific trick at a certain – nicely tagged – point along the way. You may even need to forgo any form of fanciness and just race your way to the end of a stage in the quickest time possible, working with your pump actions to ensure you keep low to the ground and at high speed.
There are more than 40 levels included in Shred! 2 and this means 200-odd challenges. And believe me, whilst the initial ones are fairly simple, it all ramps up as you make your way through the UK and USA, attempting to fakie it around loops, nose manual across beams, and flip off hay bales. Nailing these challenges deliver stars, and stars in Shred! 2 provide additional unlocks of more levels and better bikes, all of which come with different speed, stability, spin, flip and weight stats. Finding the best bike for a specific course is a joy, however there is little chance of you being able to nail all objectives in one run, and the greatness of Shred! 2 is found in the need to go back over stages multiple times in order to hit previously tricky objectives.
At it’s best, Shred! 2 delivers some great ‘one more go’-based action, and if you’re a fan of anything the likes of Trials or the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skating games delivered, you’ll likely be in for a good time here.
It’s not all perfect though and it is let down in a few ways. First off. and things don’t look particularly great. In fact, visually it’s all a bit weird. The bike riding character model lacks any real detail, with Pilgrim himself comes across as a bit of a movable mannequin. It’s not the end of the world though, and thankfully the multitude of different unlockable bikes on offer across both downhill and mountain bike ranges look good. Further to that and the tracks themselves are very varied, both in terms of the obstacles at hand – jumps, obstacles and drops – and the overall settings. Sometimes you’ll find yourself blasting through a forest, and at others you will discover the delights of snow-topped houses. There is a decent variety between each.
It’s a similar case for the audio, and with Pilgrim himself providing his own voice acting, the sparsity and quality of this is a bit grating. Repetition comes to the fore near on immediately in terms of this audio but thankfully things are helped somewhat by an absolutely booming backing track. Pushing your skills along, this does a great job of delivering a multitude of songs to the occasion, with simple skipping through to your favourites just a mere button press away. Kudos to those who have put this together as it’s a real highlight.
Honestly though, Shred! 2 – ft Sam Pilgrim on Xbox One isn’t a game that should worry about visuals or audio – it’s a game that absolutely thrives on momentum and insane combos, seeing the player pull off tricks without a care in the world. And in that respect, it utterly nails things, delivering a playthrough that is engaging, free-flowing, and precise. Yes it occasionally misses a trick, and I’ve found that trying to pull off specific skills at certain points can be a little hit or miss, but on the whole it’s a very solid skills-based rider. If you have any interest in the scene, or just want to put your skills to the test, then this is well worth checking out.