2XL Supercross could have been a landmark release in the iPhone's history as a gaming device. Hand it to someone for a quick two-minute race and they'll likely be hugely impressed by the fluid controls and detailed 3D graphics, but spend any considerable amount of time with it and it's impossible not to be disappointed. While there's a decent amount of content here in terms of tracks and bikes, there's very little game built around it.
Dirt bike racing games are twitchy in general, with your bike usually veering wildly across the track at the slightest turn of the handlebars. With this in mind, we expected the tilt controls in 2XL Supercross to be very tricky to get the hang of, but developer 2XL Games has managed to make the handling feel extremely natural. There is the option to tweak the sensitivity, but we found the default setting to be just fine. Acceleration and brake is applied using the on-screen buttons, while jump pre-loading is a simple case of tilting the iPod back and then forward just as you make a jump. It's all extremely intuitive.
So far so good then, but outside of the smooth racing there's a serious lack of game. This isn't because of a lack of content (you get plenty of tracks and a nice selection of bikes and riders), but there's almost nothing here in terms of game modes. When you select a track, rider and bike you're presented with three options: Time Trial, Practice and Race. You can also choose from three difficulty levels and set the number of laps you want to race (maximum of 20), but that's it.
New tracks are unlocked by finishing on the podium in the tracks you've got available, but other than that there's no progression here at all. After each race you're thrown back to the main menu and it all feels a bit unfinished. We don't expect a full-on in-depth career mode, but a basic championship mode complete with point scoring for performances should be an absolute minimum. Considering the sport we're dealing with, earning points to upgrade your bike would have been nice too, and given you more reason to keep playing.
What we can't complain about is the presentation. There are already some great looking racing games on the iPhone, but 2XL Supercross might be the best to date. The frame rate is solid, the level of detail in the tracks and riders is excellent and the physics are excellent. We'd have liked to see some outdoor tracks, but this is a minor issue considering the quality of the presentation on the whole. Even the bikes sound great, and there's an FMV intro before you get into the racing action.
With a better game built around the superb presentation and impressive controls, 2XL Supercross could have been a real must-buy title for the iPhone. At £4.99 (one of the most expensive games on the App Store) we expected a lot, and with what's on offer here you'll likely lose interest quite quickly. As a technical showcase for the iPhone, though, 2XL Supercross currently can't be beaten.