In our previous Strategic Preview for Twisted Pixel’s LocoCycle, we introduced you to I.R.I.S., a high-tech motorcycle that operates at her own free will. She’s broken free from the constraints of the faction that created her, which leaves them feeling sour and pursuing her relentlessly.
Since that time, we’ve managed to get hands-on with the game to see how it works between its free-flowing combat system and high-speed racing antics. Though it takes its action very seriously, the game itself is lighthearted and good fun – everything we’ve come to expect from the development studio that brought us The Gunstringer and the ‘Splosion Man games.
The game is clearly divided between its racing segments and its combat. There’s no time where you’ll have to worry about fighting someone while trying to keep your eyes on the road, as steering is controlled automatically anytime that you’re in a fight. That said, you’ll need to watch out for indications when you’re in danger, as an enemy can easily home in on an attack that could damage I.R.I.S. if she isn’t careful.
To do this, you’ll need to master the game’s counter system. When you see an enemy coming at you from a certain angle, you’ll have a limited amount of time in which to counter-attack with a button press.
For example, as I.R.I.S. cruises along on a side street, well-armed skiers will come jumping out of nowhere, ready to pounce on the two-wheeled heroine. With a quick button press, you can hit them and avoid taking damage, with the help of Pablo, the poor mechanic that I.R.I.S. has dragging behind her throughout the game. Thankfully, he’s more than willing to help, despite his current situation.
Another thing to watch out for in LocoCycle are ambushes. There are times that groups of enemies, like bikers and flying enemies, will try to get in a cheap shot. Again, the same counter system applies, where you can hit someone with a perfectly timed attack and turn him or her into road kill.
There are times you’ll need to fight enemies, though, and, thankfully, Twisted Pixel has implemented a great combo battling system. With steering automatically taken care of, I.R.I.S. is free to bash enemies in a number of directions, chaining together combos and executing “final hits” that will eventually leave them in the dust. These vary, depending on the combo, ranging from dragging someone under the wheel of your bike to letting Pablo deliver a superb shot with his wrench. Watching these combos come through is just part of the fun.
Finally, in an effort to blast enemies in front of her, I.R.I.S. can cut loose with gunfire, in a similar manner to the classic arcade game Spy Hunter. Using machine guns, she can make quick work of trucks or motorcycles that are outside her striking range. You won’t have to worry about picking up ammo, but you will need to watch for incoming projectiles, as well as innocent traffic that manage to get in your path. The way the combat and shooting action seamlessly intertwines is quite cool, and will keep you busy no matter where you are on the road.
LocoCycle also includes various quick-time events that will decide whether you stay on the road or not. Like the counter-attack system, you’ll need to hit a function at just the right time to keep your ride going, or risk getting into a fiery crash. It’s a relatively fair system, and if you should screw up too many times, you can always go back and try again – Twisted Pixel wouldn’t dare punish you just because you’re slightly inexperienced.
Last but certainly not least, LocoCycle will have its fair share of boss battles. At the conclusion of our demo, we saw a rather large Transformer-like robot romping and stomping all over the road, leaving cars flying everywhere that I.R.I.S. must avoid running into. The tactics of the boss battle itself wasn’t shown, but it should involve a well-oiled combination of shooting and combat.
That’s just the beginning, too. The defenses are consistently on the rise in LocoCycle, and one nemesis you’ll want to watch out for is S.P.I.K.E. He is pretty much I.R.I.S.’ biggest threat, a self-operating motorcycle that unleashes a number of defenses that she’ll need to contend with. On top of that, it has the voice of the T-1000 himself, Robert Patrick. If that’s not intimidating, we’re not sure what is.
With its breezy mix of on-the-road action and unique combat, LocoCycle should be one of the darlings of the Xbox One launch when it arrives on November 22nd. As for you current Xbox 360 owners, don’t worry. You’ll be getting a version of your own sometime down the road.