Trials games are becoming increasingly popular. Their exacting, trick-heavy gameplay creates a compelling "just one more go appeal" as you try and perfect the intricacies of each course using the physics based controls.
AE Xreme Moto takes these concepts, and uses them to make an attractive looking, free-to-play game. However, they undermine the whole package with otherworldly handling and a business model based on charging you for the upgrades necessary to make the game fun.
Changing the laws of physics
Taking control of a high flying dirt bike, your goal is to make it to the end of stages in the fastest possible time. The only problem is that, due way the level structure and drive for in-app purchases, you soon find that your only concern is limping to the end of the track in whatever forlorn manner you can muster.
Underlying everything in AE Xtreme Moto is its physics. Your bike’s engine growl when you accelerate, but if you don´t have any traction then it has no effect. Thus judicious use of the accelerate and break is required.
It isn't just raw power either, your rider’s placement on the bike also alters the handling. Leaning back on your hog increases the weight on the rear wheel by adding more traction, while rocking his weight backwards and forwards causes a small hop to help you over gaps and obstacles.
Potholes and pitfalls
Responsive onscreen buttons control your bike and passenger. These respond well, but do not help overcome AE Xtreme Moto’s dubious interpretation of gravity and momentum.
A prime example of this is the jump button (handily indicated by a spring icon), which allows you propel yourself upwards even when already in the air. Landing from one of these miraculous leaps frequently results in an unnatural burst of speed, a feat that is quickly stifled by a small staircase that brings your bike to an embarrassing, inexplicable, halt.
Stages looks nice, if a little sparse, with a range of different backgrounds and environmental obstacles to overcome. Industrial areas have you contending with huge truck tires, boxes, and scaffolding. This stands in contrasts to the benches and billboards that litter the city streets.
Unfortunately, the attention to detail in each area cannot mask the hateful level design. Objects are regularly hollow, seeing you falling down into their level-ending grasp. Add to this ramps that are happy to drop you back into inescapable dead ends, and you have a combination that can kill any momentum and fun the game manages to build.
Lack of balance
There are a great many good trials games in existence, unfortunately AE Xtreme Moto is not one of them. Its base level offering is designed to encourage the purchase of overpriced add-ons - a tactic undermined by the fact that without the extras the game offers no entertainment to incentivize investment.
On the plus side, if you are in the market for some trick fueled motorbike action, AE Xtreme Moto is free to try. Just think long and hard before handing over your credit card details.