Shred! 2 was developed and independently funded by UK mountain bike enthusiast, Alex Johnson. It brings with it the tricks and tracks of trail mountain biking on a budget, as it rides hot on the heels of RedLynx’s Trials Rising. While this mobile port may not have the backing of a big publisher like Ubisoft, it does have the support and voice of British freeride professional and 2013 FMB World Tour champion, Sam Pilgrim. The timing sure is a little off when it comes to bunny hopping onto the Nintendo eShop release schedule, but can this little underdog do enough to land without planting facefirst into a quarry?
Despite first impressions, Shred! 2 doesn’t really behave much like a Trials clone. If anything, it reflects more in tune with the likes of old school stunt classics such as Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. However, unlike those old turn-of-the-millennium classics, this stunt rider moves constantly forward along a 2D plane across 40 landscapes loosely inspired by real-world locations. On first glance, it’s very easy to just disregard this sequel as another cluster of ones and zeros shoveled from the trash heap of the App Store onto the Nintendo Switch. Yet, don’t be too quick to judge this book by its cover, as Shred! 2 is actually a ton of fun to play. Put it this way. It’s far better and more interesting than Urban Trials Playground that’s for sure, and at less than half the asking price too.
The control system is simple but deep enough to sink that addictive hook. The ZR Button pedals your bike while the A Button is used to “pump” the player’s momentum. The pump itself is easily the most important tool in the box to familiarise yourself with. Perfecting this mechanic will send your bike soaring across the sky as you rotate 360 degrees with the RB Button while flicking the Right Stick around the gaff to bang out some snazzy moves. Holding on to the pump in the air lets you fall faster to gain speed, ready for those high jumps. And then a quick double tap of the pump will let loose a bunny hop when riding across natural grounds. It all takes a bit of getting used to, but before you know it, you will have ol’ Sammy Pilgrim shouting out “Yeah! Well good!” as you tweak a spinning suicide jump across the void of a rocky canyon.
Every stage has an Angry Birds-style star system to aim for, with each achievement contributing the rights to earn you a new set of wheels and the next bunch of tracks. The requirements are fairly straight forward but offer a decent amount of variety to get you coming back for more. For such a low budget game, the stages themselves look fairly decent in motion with a satisfying sense of speed and scope once you finally get going. There’s plenty of diversity between regions spanning from the high Alps to the US and are tailored well enough for hours worth of replayability. Alex and his programmer pal Dave have really made a good effort to bring a genuinely stylish approach to what could have easily been just another rubbish App Store copycat port of a better franchise.
The variety of music works well also, bringing its own flavor of selectable sounds to the flow. Trying to fling out as many tricks out in the open air can feel satisfying when listening to a mellow track, or flying down a snowy mountain at full whip accompanied by a more high-intensity beat. Yet, I can’t help but think that it’s a shame Shred! 2 arrived on the Nintendo eShop when it has. I genuinely believe that a game like this would have flourished better against the competition if the timing was better. In any case, you are going to get a much more enjoyable experience than you would if you opted for the awkward glass screen controls of the mobile version.
With that said, there are a few missing features that would have made the gameplay much more interesting. First off, there are no online leaderboards to compare yourself against a friend or stranger’s own daredevil trickery. Instead, you are just merely competing with yourself and checking off boxes in a straight up solo competition. A replay system wouldn’t have gone amiss either, not to mention having the ability to watch other killers completely tear open the lid. It is understandable that adding in such features as these do come at a price, but to see that extra mile put into the game surely would have benefited the whole experience even more.
When I was initially offered the chance to cover Shred! 2 I was highly skeptical, to say the least. The danger signs of shovelware rang alarm bells in perceiving this as yet another quick cash grab mobile port. Thankfully, I was wrong. Shred! 2 happens to be a cracking freestyler that’s ideal for both quick commutes and long journeys. If you are into your stunts, speed, and nose-bleed jumps, then it’s is worth every penny of your spare change.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by ASBO Interactive