UPDATE: This review has been updated to include additional sections delivering impressions related to the belated Xbox 360 and PC versions of LocoCycle. The complaints about the high price that were initially throughout this review have also been removed, as Microsoft has permanently reduced the price of the game to $9.99 on Xbox One, just as with the Xbox 360 and PC versions.
If nothing else, LocoCycle certainly lives up to its name! It’s easily the most ridiculous Xbox One launch title of the bunch!
Originally announced and planned for Xbox 360, LocoCycle has instead been upgraded to the digital catalogue of the Xbox One. Coming to us from the likes of Twisted Pixel, arguably one of Microsoft’s most bold and creative second-party developers, LocoCycle blends the relentless pace of a racing game with the non-stop thrills and hysterical violence of a modern action game.
LocoCycle is certainly memorable as well, even if its gameplay mechanics don’t quite measure up to the entertainment provided by its zany premise and amusing lead character, newly-sentient weapons-grade motorcycle, I.R.I.S. It’s a short, simplistic romp that won’t challenge hardcore Xbox One players in the least, particularly those who may have an established love of Twisted Pixel’s more challenging offerings such as Ms. ‘Splosion Man or Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley. It’s a shame then that LocoCycle is so disappointingly short-lived to boot, especially since not just beating the game, but amassing every achievement won’t even take you a whole eight hours.
If you like humour-based, cartoonish games though, keep an eye on this game. It’s not Twisted Pixel’s best work by any stretch, but it’s worth the download if you just want to laugh it up and have some fun on your Xbox One for a little while, if you can get it on sale.
It’s so painfully evident throughout most of the entire game that LocoCycle is an idea meant for Xbox 360. This is because it’s saddled with Xbox 360-level graphics, which make no effort to take advantage of the added power of Xbox One.
Had this been a game on the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade catalogue, it would have looked amazing, mind you. The bright, colourful graphics have a nice level of exaggerated, cartoon detail, and everything in LocoCycle is designed in such a way to motivate you to tear up the highway, but also to have fun doing it.
I.R.I.S. herself is arguably the best design in the game, particularly since her wheels will surge and glow with various elemental properties after you buy her a few upgrades, and string a few combos. Less impressive are the human character models of personalities like Pablo, the Spanish-speaking mechanic that I.R.I.S. drags behind her throughout the entire game. Again, for Xbox 360 standards, the models look great, but for Xbox One standards, they feel too simple and lack finer detail.
Fortunately, the environments take a bit more advantage of Xbox One’s added power, even if just barely. The detailed landscapes that you’ll tear through with I.R.I.S. are much more lifelike and dynamic, even if they’re still firmly in the realm of cartoon graphics. Whether you’re in a canyon, on a highway, atop a snow-covered mountain road, or even skimming atop the ocean waters, at the very least, the scenery in LocoCycle manages to be at least acceptable for Xbox One graphics.
Even the live-action cutscenes, which stand as a rather jarring contrast to the in-game cartoon graphics, simply suffer because the Xbox One ironically lacks the resolution integrity of the Xbox 360 at this point. Some of them are a bit dim, while others appear like the scenery is unfocused. It could just be the way that the scenes were shot, but the Xbox One being restricted to 720p HD resolution for now certainly doesn’t help matters.
It’s easy to get the impression that upgrading LocoCycle to an Xbox One release wasn’t Twisted Pixel’s idea, because they don’t seem to have been given any time to properly optimize the game to Microsoft’s next-gen console. Instead, it just seems like the Xbox 360 assets were slapped onto Xbox One, and that was that. This makes LocoCycle’s graphics, well, not bad of course, but definitely underwhelming for Xbox One standards.
LocoCycle’s soundtrack is functional, but it disappointingly lacks energy. With the rest of the game striving to be so hilarious and strange, why didn’t the music pep itself up and follow suit? Instead, it just kind of sits in the background for most of proceedings. Like the live-action cutscenes, it sometimes feels mis-matched to the mass hysteria going on in the gameplay itself.
At the very least, the sound effects have the right idea. I.R.I.S.’ blows to the enemy sound with almost goofy levels of cartoon slapstick, and even the explosions of enemy vehicles sound like something you would hear in an old Warner Bros. cartoon. It’s the sound effects that ultimately sell the wonderfully silly action throughout the game, likely easily making players chuckle, even when I.R.I.S. is blowing up innocent motorists, or crushing a Big Arms agent against the asphalt.
The impeccable voice work of The Escapist’s Lisa Foiles rounds out I.R.I.S. into a strangely appealing, but undeniably amusing anti-hero as well. Foiles goes for broke and really has fun with the character, even behind a voice filter, and every line she speaks is dark comedy gold! Whether she’s referencing some famous movie, or just innocently oblivious to the plight of the mechanic she’s dragging behind her, I.R.I.S. will never fail to put a smile on your face.
Six Feet Under’s Freddy Rodriguez voices helpless I.R.I.S. mechanic, Pablo, but isn’t given much to do beyond beg for his life and try to bribe Big Arms agents to set him free continually. The joke of him speaking Spanish for the whole game runs out of steam quick, leaving I.R.I.S. to carry the entire show, at least, whenever rival sentient motorcycle, S.P.I.K.E. isn’t present. Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s Robert Patrick voices S.P.I.K.E., and is one of the only other actors to compare to Foiles, clearly having a great time hamming it up as the nefarious bike, who isn’t nearly as smart as he seems to think he is!
You’ll see several other cameos throughout LocoCycle, including From Dusk ‘Til Dawn’s Tom Savini, James Gunn, who is writing and directing Marvel Studios’ upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, and Troma Films co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and all of them are plenty fun. They all stand in I.R.I.S.’s shadow, naturally, but it’s nice to see so many beloved personalities in the cast all the same.
Ultimately, LocoCycle’s only weak link in the audio is the strangely unremarkable music. Everything and everyone else is on the joke and having a grand old time!
There isn’t much consistency to LocoCycle’s gameplay scenarios. At any given moment, you could be racing along blowing up cars on a highway, executing quick-time events to avoid capture by I.R.I.S.’ handlers at Big Arms, leaping into mid-air to smack around jetpack goons, or perhaps engaging in an over-the-top boss battle. There’s certainly never a dull moment, that’s for sure!
On the negative side, the gameplay isn’t all that complex. Once you install a certain upgrade, you won’t even need to bother weaving around traffic with the left thumbstick, nor is there much incentive to chase a time bonus by holding A or Right Trigger to turbo your way through a stage, which is usually only necessary if you’re trying to catch up to a foe, or chase some time-sensitive achievement. Certain enemies must be dispatched with a melee attack, others by swinging Pablo, and others with I.R.I.S.’ built-in guns, but it all gets so brainless before long, especially given how much of a pushover most enemies in the game are.
The boss battles at least are more exciting, both unpredictable and nicely tense. Even then however, quick-time events and attack prompts are very generous, so once you figure out how to beat a boss, actually taking them out is rarely difficult. Most of the bosses are at least interestingly designed, but they don’t prove too challenging if you know your way around an Xbox game.
While the game does a solid job of throwing an unpredictable set of obstacles and challenges at you, you’ll never sweat when actually trying to deal with them. I.R.I.S. is hysterically overpowered, especially later in the game. By just playing normally, you’ll easily be able to afford every upgrade for her, and by the time you reach the surprisingly easy final battle, you’ll be pretty well unstoppable unless you’re extraordinarily careless and reckless.
Still, LocoCycle isn’t designed to be challenging. It’s designed to be a carefree romp. It could have been more exciting with a greater level of challenge, but at the very least, it’s a decent slice of dumb fun. It’s undeniably difficult not to chuckle a bit as you dispatch legions of Big Arms agents in increasingly more over-the-top ways, just like I.R.I.S.’ running commentary never seems to get old.
The shallow final product is what will really kill the gameplay package’s appeal for many though. At the very least, Microsoft permanently cut the price to $10 on Xbox One, and launched it for that price on Xbox 360 and PC, which is certainly a lot more reasonable than the initial $20 asking price in the debuting Xbox One build! Even so however, the game feels like it’s lacking in real depth, and has pretty well non-existent lasting appeal.
Ultimately though, LocoCycle feels like it offers too little depth, amounting to a whole lot of ridiculous carnage and quick-time events, and little else for your money. Even the achievements are extremely simple to attain, so far easily giving LocoCycle the most generous achievement roster on Xbox One at this point. That should make the game a little more recommendable to avid achievement hunters who are just out to line their Gamerscore at the very least.
The real tragedy here is that LocoCycle is not a bad game. The gameplay may be simple and undemanding, but it’s fun if you just want to let loose and laugh with it. It just feels like such a last-gen experience that’s meant for Xbox Live Arcade, failing to justify its existence on Xbox One.
As if it hasn’t been apparent throughout this review already, LocoCycle is far more at home on Xbox 360 than it is on Xbox One!
The visuals look pretty much exactly the same on Microsoft’s last-gen console, and even with the reduced 400 Gamerpoints’ worth of achievements compared to the Xbox One version’s 1,000, LocoCycle feels far more appropriate as an Xbox Live Arcade game. The game feels more polished and more enjoyable to play on Xbox 360, considerably so, with the only real compromise in this version being that players initially have to download and install an additional 2GB update that applies a few technical assets. You can opt out of this update, but it does negatively affect performance and stability when you skip it, so it’s best to just apply it and get it over with.
Regardless, as a $10 game on Xbox 360, LocoCycle is a much better bargain for anyone who simply wants a cheesy, goofy action game, and doesn’t care about a particularly deep experience.
LocoCycle saw a pretty smooth transition to Xbox 360, but unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as lucky on PC.
The PC port of LocoCycle is quite sloppy, almost shockingly so! There’s no ability to aim with the mouse, which is absolutely inexcusable for a PC game released in 2014 by the way, the visuals are surprisingly lacklustre, even on the maximum settings, and while the game does include the ability to use a gamepad, including an Xbox 360/Xbox One controller, trying to aim and navigate in LocoCycle with just a keyboard, your sole other option, is an absolute nightmare!
On the bright side, the system requirements for LocoCycle on PC are very minor, and you do get Steam achievements and leaderboards if you buy the game from Steam. Even so however, LocoCycle’s PC version remains very poorly-realized. Just don’t bother with it. You’re far better off seeking out either of the Xbox builds for a far better experience.
LocoCycle is a solid chunk of amusement that will entertain you, if not challenge you. Many gamers are going to be expecting a lot more than what they get here however. LocoCycle may be one of the most unapologetically fun and amusing games available for Xbox One at this point, but it’s too short and simple for its own good.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that LocoCycle is so blatantly a last-gen game that has no business being on Xbox One. The game makes no effort to take advantage of Xbox One’s added power or capabilities, ultimately looking, sounding and handling like it merely belongs on Xbox 360. Again, not a bad game at all, but well beneath the kind of experience that people will be expecting in an Xbox One release.
If you like humour-based games, especially Twisted Pixel games, then LocoCycle is worth grabbing on sale. Games like Killer Instinct and Powerstar Golf are noticeably grander downloadable launch window Xbox One games that are actually designed for Xbox One in the first place though, so bear that in mind.
- I.R.I.S. is a funny lead
- Levels offer nice variety
- Mayhem-causing fun!
- Poorly suited to Xbox One
- Gameplay feels shallow
- Lacks challenge
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