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Red Bull Air Race 2D

For: Mobile

Out of control

Product: Red Bull Air Race | Developer: Artificial Life | Format: Mobile | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 503KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
 
Red Bull Air Race Mobile, thumbnail 1
3D should be better than 2D, right? The clue's in the higher number before the 'D', and the fact that before it came along we didn't have games like Goldeneye on the N64.

But it seems that this logic doesn't always ring true. Especially for mobile games where 3D graphics can sometimes come at the cost of games that chug along at the speed of poured syrup.

Or don't manage to show enough of the playing field for you to actually play them efficiently. In the cases of these games, we'd rather have a lead character that resembles a piece of cardboard but is actually fun to play with.

Now it's time for an example. Red Bull Air Race is a better game than Red Bull Air Race 3D. That's because in 3D, Air Race is one of those chugging games - and in a game based on hurtling through the air in a light aircraft pulling off deft tricks, this lack of speed is quite a serious one.

It's also just too difficult to see what's going on in 3D. As air gates appear in front of you, your aim is to get through them while flying either horizontally, or sideways. There's also the odd slalom gate, or loop-the-loop move to pull off. But when you don't see these gates until the last minute the result is a game that's difficult, and frustrating, to play.

However, in 2D these problems are eradicated. In this version of the game your aircraft - which you create at the start of the game - glides through the air with speed and poise and much more of the course is visible to you ahead of having to nip through those gates.

Admittedly, the top-down view isn't as intuitive as the 3D viewpoint, but it's perfectly workable. The game suffers a little from unwieldy controls, too. Those gates are narrow to slip through - you're not given much leeway - and your aircraft is a jittery, sensitive beast to manoeuvre. But practice makes more perfect, and this adds to the challenge, in a bit of a frustrating way.

The way the game is structured is quite straightforward. There are three different modes of play - Quick Flight, which chucks you into a random course; Custom Race, which lets you pick your race type (out of Normal, Follow The Path and Slalom) and the country it's being held in; and the Season mode.

Season is the lengthiest of the modes. It sets you courses to complete across a range of countries and pits you against a range of virtual competitors on a leaderboard. Depending on how quickly you complete a race - penalties are added for hitting gates or going through them the wrong way - you're allocated points and move up or down the leaderboard.

It's not hard to complete each course, but it's hard to do it and score maximum points. Luckily, you can replay courses to improve, or practise beforehand. There are also trophies to earn during the game, which adds a little more of a challenge for when you get bored with just trying to make it through gates without touching them.

As we noted in our review of the 3D game, Red Bull Air Race uses a neat concept - there aren't many aerial acrobatic flying games on mobile. And this version is far nippier and more accessible than its 3D stable mate.

But, while it's more playable, it's still not that exciting. There's not much in the way of immediacy when you're flying around a course solo, simply competing against a clock. More tricks and short challenges would have been a welcome addition. It's good, but it's no white knuckle ride.  
 
Red Bull Air Race 2D
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 1 June 2009
Offers a decent flying challenge with gates to squeeze through and times to beat. But the controls aren't spot on and the game feels a bit repetitive and bland at times
 
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