Crash and burn

Up until yesterday, I had no idea what Crashed Ice was. If you came up to me on the street and asked me, I’d probably say it was some sort of alcoholic beverage. And considering Red Bull puts on the event, I may start experimenting with that one later (I’m thinking some blue grenadine and vodka needs to be in there). But, no, Crashed Ice is actually a winter extreme sport involving skating downhill at breakneck speeds while dressed as a hockey player on a closed track. So, considering my love of hockey and my unfortunate experience playing many Kinect, sports, and Kinect sports games over the past couple of years, I figured “How bad could it be?” Famous last words if there ever were ones.

Released to coincide with the first event of the 2012-2013 World Championship season, Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect allows your avatar to don pads and blades and try to become the faster skater out there as you avoid various real-life and in-game exclusive obstacles. Featuring avatars based on actual Crashed Ice competitors like Kyle Croxall and Jasper Felder, you and three others race to the finish in each event, just like in the actual sport. Being that the game is Kinect based, you’d expect maybe some leg movement, but instead of moving your legs to gain speed, you just swing your arms back and forth as fast as possible in a motion that is more reminiscent of skiing rather than skating. And, unfortunately, Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect happens to be yet another prime example of a game that fails primarily because the Kinect sensor can’t pick up your motions a majority of the time if you go too fast, obviously defeating the entire purpose of what a race is supposed to be.

The controls aren’t the only failure of Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect, however, since it’s not like there’s much strategy to this game. The entire concept is “you go downhill as fast as possible.” The faster you swing your arms, the faster you go (if the sensor picks you up), and so the challenge centers more around your level of aerobic fitness than anything the game actually throws at you. Sure, some sensationalized jumps and a Hulk-like stomp move to help knock your competition down to try to give the game a fun, arcade-like feel. But again the Kinect often fails to pick up the rare moments you need these over-the-top maneuvers to advance through the game.

Of course, it’s not like there’s much of a game here to begin with, either; the game consists of only five events. And given the brevity of these races, you can blow through the entire campaign in less than an hour. Even with online leaderboards and the ability to download ghosts of friends or top racers to go against, the game basically equates to a dollar per track. You spend more time on load menus than actually playing this game. So, with the control problems and lack of depth—and the fact that most people don’t even know what Crashed Ice is—this game could be free instead of $5 (400 Microsoft points) and it still wouldn’t be worth it! After putting in far too much time with this, I can say it’s a game everyone should avoid—and that I need to go comfort myself by experimenting more with my Crashed Ice drink recipe (maybe I should put some Natty Ice in there?).

SUMMARY: Even with its cheap price of only 400 Microsoft points ($5), when you combine the game’s poor recognition of your body movements and a severe lack of content, there just isn’t enough of a game here to warrant any sort of purchase.

  • THE GOOD: Head-to-head racing with ghosts.
  • THE BAD: Everything else.
  • THE UGLY: This may be the only skating we see this year with the NHL labor impasse (I miss you, hockey!).

SCORE: 2.5

Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect is an XBLA (Xbox 360) exclusive.