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Bike Unchained 2 review - "Downhill racing that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand"

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Dirty boys and girls

Product: Bike Unchained 2 | Format: iPhone | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Extreme sports games let us experience the world in terrifying ways from the safety of our couch. They might not give you the real adrenaline rush of pulling off an amazing trick or landing a huge jump, but they're the closest plenty of us are going to get.

But how do you turn a complex sport like downhill mountain bike racing into a compulsive mobile game? You can't take the skateboard route and let the player poke at the pedals, you need to do something different.

The something different that Bike Unchained 2 does is essentially a riff on the Tiny Wings template. Although with an over-the-shoulder camera angle and far more well-natured dude bros congratulating you when you do well.

Sick biking

You control the game with one finger. Your biker automatically takes the corners that the game throws at you, all you need to concentrate on is the position they're taking on the bike itself.

Press on the screen and you'll become more streamlined for downhill sections, lift up your finger and you'll push up the hills and inclines that make up the rest of the track. For really tough uphill sections you can tap the screen to get a boost.

There are jumps as well. Here you need to release your finger while you're going up the ramp, then push it down when you're in the air to come in for as jar-free a landing as possible.

Bike Unchained 2 iOS review screenshot - The start of a race

The other clever thing that Bike Unchained 2 does is pit you against the ghosts of other players. The core of the game is multiplayer, and sees you working your way through leagues to try and prove you're the best.

It adds a frisson of tension to every race. You'll find yourself generating enemies from the digital images of people who ride past you. And when the league is done and you've done well enough to move onto the next level, you can't help but feel like you've got one over on them.

There are daily challenges to try and finish too, as well as challenges from famous mountain bikers that come in pretty regularly if you're good enough.

Wheelie good

Some people are going to be a bit put off by the monetisation here, and while the game does manage to capture some short, sharp thrills, if you settle down for a longer play session you're going to see things get a little repetitive.

But when it comes to quick-fire, dirt-splashed riding, there's nothing better on mobile right now at giving you those sharp jolts of adrenaline. They won't last long, but when you've only got a few minutes to spare that's no bad thing.
Bike Unchained 2 review - "Downhill racing that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand"
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 14 September 2018
It might not truly capture the treacherous thrill of mountain biking, but Bike Unchained 2 is still a lot of fun
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