Line Rider 2: Unbound
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Publisher: Genius Products Inc.
Genre: Line Drawing Extravaganza
Release Date: 10/07/08
When it comes to generating excitement for a new game, there are few words more horrifying than “Flash.” Flash is like the frozen store brand orange juice of video gaming: cheap, weak, and bearing only a passing resemblance to the real thing. That being said, Line Rider was one of the more enjoyable Flash games, a neat little gadget of a physics engine. How does the transition to console gaming treat this Flash phenomenon? Is Line Rider 2: Unbound worth your hard earned dollars? Do all opening paragraphs end with questions?
1. Story and Modes
Imagine a world in which two sled riding, who strongly resemble the honorable Nelson Muntz, competing for the affections of an equally Nelson-esque love interest via competitive sledding. Oh, the drama and excitement that would ensue! Yes, attacking a game about drawing lines for a little guy on a sled to ride on is a bit like attacking a third grader’s spelling, but if you advertise a story mode, you do bring it on yourself.
Plot aside, there are a few different ways to play LR2:U. The Puzzle mode let’s you make Rube Goldbergian devices with which you can torture yourself, your friends, and anyone with a copy of this game and an Internet connection. I do have to admit that the online sharing aspect of LR2:U is nicely implemented, if only the actual play justified it.
Freestyle mode is the original form the game took on PC, so unsurprisingly it is the best. A blank canvas, a suicidal sledder, and a toolbox to torture him with. It is like a mix of Calvin and Hobbes, the X-Games, and Saw. The worthiness of Freestyle is entirely up to you, and your need to inflict pain on the sledder, but that might just be me. Freestyle tracks can also be uploaded onto the interweb, if that is your desire, and other players’ sick creations can be downloaded.
As has been said so many times already, this is the descendant of a Flash game, so the gameplay graphics are, to be kind, passable. That you can create your own Clip Art on your PC to use in game is a nice touch, though one that will only appeal to the hardest of the hardcore Line Rider fans. That is the acceptable portion.
What I will not accept is the art design in the cut scenes. I try to be as magnanimous about aesthetics I don’t agree with as I can be, but the first cut scene I saw in Story mode made me shudder. I was truly and deeply disturbed. The mongoloid offspring of Nelson Muntz and the Crazy Frog populate Line Rider 2: Unbound‘s permanent Winter, which I can only imagine to be some sort of post-Apocalyptic Nuclear Winter scenario. The result of a shallow gene pool and radiation, the creatures that populate LR2:U are more scabby and disgusting than anything Clive Barker ever designed, and Hellraiser 2 made me wet the bed. At 16.
Graphics Rating: Dreadful
When there is a diamond among the sand granules, it shines more brightly. In the case of Line Rider 2: Unbound, the music is what glitters in the sandcastle ruins of this game. The mix between strange Euro pop and a touch of Daft Punk, the songs are repetitive, to be kind, but they have a charm and appeal I cannot put my finger on. Would I buy a soundtrack? Maybe.
The sound effects are mostly harmless, although the ability to upload your own to the website is quite nice. I can only dread the sonic emissions that people will be posting.
Sound Rating: Good
4. Control and Gameplay
Sometimes you need a scalpel and sometimes you need a hatchet. This game goes between a plastic spoon and a chainsaw. Actually, that is not fair. I apologize. What I should say is that the controls are about as much fun to deal with as a dentist who uses a machete to give a root canal. No, that is not fair either.
To be honest, the controls are just mediocre. The real issue is how mind numbing is to have to go back and adjust a line a few millimeters. Repeatedly. Constantly. Over and over and over again. Especially in Story mode.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Mediocre
This game is a firm believer in the carrot and the stick method of replay. Sadly, this means beating you with the stick of tedium and offering you a dirty carrot in a very painful place. I would rather do the dishes than play this game again. Literally. I have made a conscious decision to hand off the controller and do the dishes instead of continuing a play session.
Replayability Rating: Very Bad
The first puzzle of the second stage, after passing the tutorial Stage One, is a pain in the neck. You have to work at it repeatedly to pass it. Even after passing it, Story mode does not improve. It is a melange of the painful and painfully obvious with no rhythm. Luckily, Story mode is the only one in which this matters, but, all the same, I would not recommend this game to anyone.
Balance Rating: Bad
As a port of a sequel, this game gets a slight deduction. As an original concept, however, this game gets quite high marks. This is, perhaps, the most PC game ever translated onto the Wii. No other game has so much use for the Wii’s internet capabilities. The drawing a line for a little sled man to ride concept is on par with Snake and Breakout, as basic gameplay concepts go. I expect someone else to take a, hopefully better, run at this concept in the near future. Where is Shigeru Miyamoto?
Originality Rating: Very Good
I love drinking a beer called Abbey. It is darker than dark, thin, and tastes of burnt coffee. Those who love it have a hard time drinking any other brew. It makes a great match for dark chocolate and is almost perfect. Like a good Cure song. I once gave a friend a bottle of Abbey and he spit it out and to this day refuses my beer pairings.
Line Rider 2: Unbound is kind of like that. I, personally, do not get the appeal. I have no interest in ever playing it again. Ever. That said, I do see how it will be some people’s favorite game for years to come. Is LR2:U going to keep me up at night? Nope, but I bet it will be someone’s addiction.
Addictiveness Rating: Decent
9. Appeal Factor
This game has a strange Euro charm that some will fall for hard, like those James Pond weirdos. I cannot see it, but some will want to live in this game’s creepy eternal winter. As long as I do not have to read the fanfic.
Appeal Factor Rating: Mediocre
It is rare for a game to be as wildly played as this one before it ever even hits a console. The opportunity to play it for free on a PC before even thinking about buying it is nice. Regrettably, I cannot see too many people taking a crack at the PC version and rushing out to buy this one.
Miscellaneous Rating: Very Bad
Story and Modes: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Very Bad
Originality: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Mediocre
Miscellaneous: Very Bad
FINAL SCORE: BELOW AVERAGE
Short Attention Span Summary
In summation, Line Rider 2: Unbound is not a game that I would ever endeavor to play again. It was an albatross to bear, and I feel better being free of it. In a perfect world, there would be gameplay worthy of the effort put forth by all involved. It was not there this time. If you really wanted this game, you bought it already. Otherwise, you have been warned.