The world of iOS racing games has been relatively quiet for a while (gamers obviously prefer hurling birds and finding water). If your gaming tastes trend more towards adrenaline-packed racing and less towards piggy physics, Downhill Xtreme serves up solid skateboard racing action for your iDevice. Best of all, with Game Center/Facebook integration and worldwide social races, you can prove your longboarding skills to friends and test your mettle against racers from around the world.
How does it work?
Downhill Xtreme starts with a simple premise—you are a skateboarder competing in a worldwide series of increasingly-difficult events (the competitions are grouped, somewhat confusingly, into series). Each event requires a qualifying round, and you must come in either first or second in an event to earn money/experience points and continue advancing. Gameplay is mostly intuitive, with two button control and tilt-to-turn. It is disappointing that acceleration and braking are not controlled with forward/backward tilts, but the gameplay is still engaging.
Of course, there is no point earning money in competitions if there is no way to spend it, and the skateboard store offers a variety of skill-enhancing upgrades. Choices include new boards and wheels, skateboard coaching, and accessories for your character—everything from a new hairdo to camo pants.
Some accessories increase your performance, so you will want to upgrade wisely to continue kicking butt on the course.
Is it contagious?
The only issue with this otherwise great, free app is its focus on getting you to buy more coins/dollars via in-app purchases. Simply competing in races will not earn you enough to stay current with your skills/gear, especially because upgrade wheels wear out every third race or so. Purchasing the necessary upgrades to stay competitive can easily turn into a $15-$20 affair, and the gameplay simply is not that engaging.
On the plus side, Downhill Xtreme does feature excellent graphics and realistic skateboarding simulation, all accompanied by an awesome soundtrack (links to purchase the music would be a great source of revenue, if Apple’s iOS terms allow it!). The game is solid overall, but $15 is a pretty steep price for an average iPad game. Luckily, you can forgo the in-app coin upgrades, and Downhill Xtreme remains a great casual skateboard racing game for when you need a little head-to-head competitive action.