jeffrud's LocoCycle (Xbox One) review

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  • jeffrud has written a total of 18 reviews. The last one was for Super Rub 'a' Dub
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The most loco part is how this was a promoted launch title.

Stars and garters, dear readers. The Xbox One's launch is already codified in the history of our hobby as a large, hubris-driven snafu. From Don Mattrick's tactless dismissal of always-online concerns, to months and months of "900p-gate" nonsense, right up to the rocky rollout of Halo MCC, it was a free for all of bullshit for what felt like an age. And yet, even if the launch had been perfect, LocoCycle would have been a remarkable black eye. Given its launch lineup position, Twisted Pixel's vehicular combat/FMV showcase is all of that wonderful early Xbox One energy in crystalline form. A thing of terrible beauty.

I suppose we could start with the casual racism. Nevermind the United States' launch and grisly history of white men murdering members of minority groups by dragging them from the backs of vehicles, a sentence which I would encourage you to read again and reflect upon before continuing. The bulk of your time with LocoCycle will be spent using a Spanish-speaking Latin American mechanic as an accessory, for dealing melee damage or for healing, while he begs you to stop dragging him across hundreds of miles of asphalt. How quirky! This premise is underscored by the fact that I.R.I.S., the protagonist motorcycle weapon system thing, understands all human language except that spoken by this hapless mechanic. Prepare for over a dozen levels of jokes predicated on misunderstanding Spanish, a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world. People who were, in Microsoft's mind, the potential target audience for this game and the system it helped to launch. How quirky!

Then there's the opening cutscene. Imagine if Nickelodeon applied the budget of one of their children's shows to a 90 minute direct-to-DVD film. It has a tacky, expensive veneer layed over the most budget ass premise possible. An evil arms corporation has developed killer robot motorcycles, and they are for sale. The potential buyers include a supposed North Korean (missing her Kim Il-sung pin, which is so fucking big a miss I slapped my head), a token representative from the contentint of Africa who speaks in your uncle's impression of what people from Africa probably talk like, a handful of Arab men, and a man stuffed into a Soviet military uniform who memorized a breathtaking three or four phrases of Russian. Lisa Foiles is there. This scene lasts about 15 minutes. It is horrible.

The entire premise of this game could be so easily stripped of this garbage. Evil corporation develops smart motorcycle. Motorcycle learns to think, hears about rally in the American midwest, and spends the game attempting to get there while antagonist evil motorcycle and her creator attempt to thwart her. That's the premise. Look, I wrote it with like 99% of the racist garbage removed. The premise of an evil black motorcycle covered in spikes chasing a smart blue motorcycle is silly enough on its surface. It didn't need the horrible extra bullshit.

I'm lingering here because beyond the full motion video and assy subtext of it all, there's the game. The game is an ugly 360 game with a light layer of polish applied before casting it onto the Xbox One as a digital launch title. The motorcycle controls as if the roads were all thoroughly greased before your arrival. Your melee moves do not have the range to strike cars without turbo boosting to them, a tedious process, so you will become duly acquainted with your front-mounted guns. These suck so hard. The rate of fire is slow, the damage output is minuscule, and the upgrades are gated by game progress. Occasionally flying enemies will emerge, and to combat them you jump into the air and mash X. Sometimes you can hit Y to throw the mechanic as a weapon. Sometimes a target reticle will appear over an enemy, and hitting A at that point will counter them. But mostly you just hit X until they die. You will rack up combos into the hundreds before they die. It is about as fun as a trip to the optometrist. An optometrist who is inexplicably racist.

Did I mention the myriad quick time events? The boss fights that require you to rapidly engage with newly introduced bad mechanics on the fly, repeating lengthy sections should you fail? That two boss fights are basically "Virtua Cop but you use the controller because you didn't buy the light gun"? These are also in this game.

There are a few laughs to be had, despite the overall suck factor. The antagonist motorcycle, S.P.I.K.E., with his doughy middle aged American woman in tow, has a few good sight gags around a bike eating food. There's a start menu option called "Promise" which allows you send a message called "I promise" to a crudely drawn cloud with a face. The last bad Virtua Cop-esque boss fight takes place with full motion video flyover footage of major American cities, something I don't think I've ever seen before. These do move the game into one star territory, from the basement. Considering you spend most of the game-ass game part of the game either holding B until something blows up, or mashing X until something else blows up, I think that's generous enough.

LocoCycle is an exceptionally poor experience. Shame on Twisted Pixel for making it, shame on Microsoft for promoting it, and shame on me for spending the six or so hours to beat it. Don't make my mistakes.

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