As far as we’re concerned, extreme sports make for better video games than team sports do. Part of that’s because extreme sports tend to be much harder (and more dangerous) to master, and partly it’s because you can do crazy things with the format. Take iStunt 2, the latest Xbox Live game for Windows Phone as an example…
Xbox Live game for Windows Phone: PES 2012 review
We tried snowboarding once. Never again. It hurt too much. But when it comes to video games, we’re all for it – provided it goes completely over the top with the flipping and the spinning and the death-defying stunts.
That, in a nutshell, is what iStunt 2 does. It takes the sport of snowboarding, strips out all the boring go-straight-down-a-mountain stuff and inserts a healthy dose of the fantastical. Oh, and then adds in a brilliantly simple trick system that will keep you coming back to perfect your scores.
That’s if you can survive to attempt a second run-through. iStunt 2 is hard. It starts of deceptively lightly, teaching you how to land your boarder at just the right angle (by tilting your Nokia Lumia accordingly), then proceeds to spin of into impossibly twisty levels that are closer to something found in Sonic 4 than a serious snowboard sim. There are grabs to learn (just hold one of two virtual buttons in the air), rails to grind and oh-so-many hazards to dodge.
You’ll die repeatedly, but that’s kind of the point. With sprawling levels and evenly spaced check points, the idea is to learn from your mistakes and string together a tidy section, trying again when you fail.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s also a fine trick system in place. You get points for 360 degree spins, grabs, grinds, neat landings and grabbing mid-air coins. Combine two or more of these together and your score rockets further. At the end of each stage you’re awarded a medal depending on your skills.
Not only is this skill system fun, it also introduces an element of risk and reward. When you find yourself in some apparently clear air, do you risk a trick, or should you prepare your boarder for an unexpected landing angle? If you commit to a trick, do you throw in an extra spin or pull out nice and early? Tough calls all, and it’s this moment-to-moment decision making that elevates iStunt to something beyond the ordinary.
In terms of presentation, iStunt 2 has that functional-but-bright thing going for it that other Miniclip games like Fragger also boast. It’s not what you’d call impressive or technically advanced, but it does the trick just fine. Most importantly, it all moves along smoothly.
We’re not completely sold on iStunt 2’s in-game currency system, whereby you can buy new riders, boards, and skips (allowing you to bypass tricky levels) with real cash (or Xbox Live points). Maybe if the game was free or cheap, but it’s not. It’s the standard £2.29 price we’ve come to expect from fully featured Xbox Live games.
Value aside, though, iStunt 2 is an enjoyably challenging take on everyone’s favourite extreme sport. If you’re after a little more bite from your Nokia Lumia games, we can recommend it wholeheartedly.