Developed by ASBO Interactive, Shred! 2: Freeride Mountainbiking was originally an Android and iOS game that has now hit the console and PC market.
The original Shred! debuted on the App Store and Steam in 2015 to mixed reviews. So far, Shred! 2 has received considerably more praise than its predecessor from the mobile gaming community—but how well does the concept translate to console?
The game itself is very reminiscent of old Flash games played in secret on school computers when the teacher looks away. Herein lies the problem with Shred! 2: it feels as though it should be a free-to-play experience. The game has little in terms of mechanics or longevity that makes it stand out from the competition. However, the game boasts one unique element, which is also the most frustrating, known as the “pump” feature. The feature is used to gain momentum when both going down hills and attempting to perform a jump. An important distinction to note is that the pump button is same as the jump button; unlike many titles in the genre, players cannot hold the button to jump higher and can only perform a tiny hop to get on rails. The earlier levels indicate when to pump by using a bright green line, but the frustration begins here as the line essentially covers the whole map.
Some of the jumps become so long that without using the pump mechanic to gain the necessary speed, they become impossible to complete and leaves the player with a shorter window to pull off tricks. The game has eight main tricks assigned to a different direction on the left analog stick which varies in terms of how long the animations last. The stunts can be combined with a 360 spin for added flair and a higher score multiplier. Another way to accumulate extra points is by performing wheelies in between jumps. When combined with the game’s trick system, the pump mechanic becomes even more frustrating. The limited time to perform stunts makes some of the levels nigh unbeatable as each track is only passable by achieving certain combinations of tricks in the form of challenges indicated by a star icon. These challenges often include “tweaking” which means holding a trick for a prolonged amount of time, thus making the pump feature much more irritating as players must sacrifice speed for stunts and vice versa. By focusing solely on this one mechanic, Shred! 2 robs itself of any gameplay variation.
Progression throughout the game is only available after acquiring a certain number of stars which unlocks the various stages. Again, these stars are only collected after completing the specific tricks, creating a vicious cycle of going back to older, easier tracks to harvest any leftover stars rather than struggling with the later, more challenging levels. While the game offers a large number of maps to complete, the difficulty curve is paced incorrectly. The tracks range from the hills of the high alpines to streets of the UK and US with enough variation in scenery to keep each section feeling somewhat visually refreshing, but this visual creativity only makes the shallowness of the gameplay more pronounced.
As a console release, the graphics in the game leave much to be desired with several flat textures and bland backgrounds that are only saved by the changes between snowy hills, grassy woods, and dirt jumps. Despite the lack of visual fidelity, which can be forgiven for a mobile port, the frame rate remains constant and does not impede on gameplay.
A first-person option, a feature was not carried over from the previous title, will be missed by some players. Despite only being able to cycle in a straight line, the added view was a welcome addition that seems absent from the sequel. Another missing asset from the first game is the inclusion of truck driving segments. The driving saw the player drifting around winding dirt roads but was heavily criticised on Steam due to poor steering mechanics. One nice touch for Shred! 2 is the ability to customise the two different bikes’ colours from either pre-sets or a custom paint job.
In retrospect, the game is commendable for being developed and ported by a single person (or, rather, “1.5 people” as stated on the game’s website). As a mobile experience, Shred! 2 is an exceptional way to pass the time but unfortunately loses a lot of its charm when ported over to console.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.