Line Rider 2: Unbound Hands-On

We take an updated look at what's being done to turn this viral Web freebie into a full-fledged retail game.

When the original Line Rider first hit the Internet in 2006, its simplicity and lack of a real goal gave it the feel of a toy rather than a game. All you really had to work with was a rudimentary line-drawing tool and a scarf-wearing guy on a sled who would gleefully submit himself to the forces of gravity. As the development team behind Line Rider 2: Unbound, InXile Entertainment realizes that the beauty of this formula lies in its simplicity. So with that in mind, they’ve shied away from tinkering too much with the basics--draw a line and let physics do the rest--merely adding to it with a variety of supplementary features. We've spent the past few days taking an extended look at the DS, Wii, and PC versions, as well as all the new additions they have to offer.

The Wii and PC versions offer far more detailed backdrops than the DS version.

Line Rider 2 features three gameplay modes: Story, Freestyle, and Puzzle. Story mode does its best to add a plot to the proceedings, featuring full-video cutscenes (even on the DS version) that tell the story of Bosh, the game's main character. Bosh is chased down the snowy slopes by a green-and-black-clad villain named Chaz. Each comedic snippet feels quite a bit like a Loony Tunes episode in which Wile E. Coyote tries in vain to catch the Roadrunner. If you just replace the desert with snow and rocket-powered roller skates with a sled, you've got a pretty good idea of how these animated interludes play out.

The tracks in Story mode are essentially semicomplete puzzles you need to solve by mixing careful planning with trial and error. You've got a starting point, a finishing point, and gaps in the track marked by a green rectangle. These prespecified rectangles are the only areas you can fill in with your drawing tool. In addition to figuring out what shape the track needs to be drawn in, you'll need to figure out which type of track to use, with selections ranging from accelerating and decelerating lines to trickier ones, such as trapdoors and bouncy trampolines. The game features upward of 40 tracks, each designed by YouTube legend TechDawg, known for creating some of the most elaborate and artistic Line Rider courses in existence. The layouts are the same for each version, though the Wii and PC versions feature more visual flair, including backgrounds filled with trees and mountains.

Each track in Story mode features two types of tokens you can collect by guiding Bosh through them. You've got the red tokens, which are necessary to obtain before completing the puzzle (keeping you from drawing a great big jump that launches you from beginning to end), as well as glimmering gold tokens. The latter are purely optional. The point of collecting gold tokens is that you'll be able to unlock bonuses when creating your own tracks. These include upgrades, such as additional riders (you can actually have two riding at once) and new clip art with which to decorate your creations.

In our hands-on time with the Story mode, we couldn't help but long for a few features. One would be the ability to save your progress midpuzzle. Some of the later levels become rather detailed and time-consuming, but you can't save your progress with them until they're fully completed. However, there are more than a handful of ways the game helps ease you along. One is the Bezier curve tool, which allows you to draw a straight line that you can then turn into a curve by adjusting a pair of tweak points. In addition to this, you've got the ability to isolate certain lines with the eraser tool. For example, if you've worked yourself into a corner by drawing a normal line that you want to keep right next to an accelerating line you want to get rid of, the eraser can be customized to only do away with that speedy red line.

Freestyle mode is where Line Rider 2 gets back to its roots by letting you design slopes from scratch. You can still create tracks that are as simple as they were in the original Line Rider, but now you've got a number of options to make things interesting. If you want to keep things fairly simple, you can draw plain tracks that are merely accented by a number of visual embellishments. The primary way of doing this is with the stamp tool, which plops a scalable piece of clip art onto the screen. There are a number of themes to choose from, and you can also create your own clip art. One nice part of this tool is that you can place the art on different layers. There's the layer where you'll find Bosh and the track, but there's also a number of background layers that scroll by at different speeds, adding a new sense of depth to your designs. One of the big differences among the three versions is the DS's clip-art limitations; the Wii and PC versions will provide much greater stamp selection.

With the help of the new Bezier curve tool (shown here on the DS version) we rarely felt the need to draw lines freehand.

Then there are the new lines. One of the flashiest additions to your track template is the trigger line. Once Bosh crosses this invisible line, he'll suddenly bust out a midair trick, like the hang ten, nutcracker, or superman--just to name a scant few. You can also trigger a zoom that focuses up close and tight on your rider for the duration of this trick. Another line--one that lends quite a bit more practicality to your tracks--is the finish line, which acts as a marker to tell Bosh he's reached his final destination (though if you like, you can have him do a little jig to celebrate his triumph). Finally, you can also use the real-time draw mode to draw lines while Bosh is in motion.

Puzzle is where the two aforementioned modes meet as you use the tools given to you in Freestyle (plus the ability to place tokens and green rectangles) to create the same types of head scratchers found in the main story. When you've created a track you're satisfied with, you can upload it to Linerider.com for others to rate and download--a service that works on all three versions. (Griefers may be saddened to learn that they'll have to successfully complete their own puzzles before they can be uploaded.)

From playing these three versions, we were able to pick up on some early strengths and weaknesses of each one. The DS is the easiest to draw freehand lines with, thanks to the stylus, but the limited screen real estate makes it tough to see much of the map. The Wii and PC make it easier to navigate through the rather elaborate user interface, but they lack the contextual help screen that the DS's second screen shows at all times. But regardless of platform, it looks like fans of the original Line Rider will find at least a few things worth keeping an eye on with all these new additions.

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Discussion

42 comments
spyro29
spyro29

im getting it for pc and wii if i get it for my birthday

Nurematsu
Nurematsu

I'll be picking this up for PC. I'll get the better backdrops and such, PLUS I have a drawing tablet that I can use so I get the benefits of the DS version

Sonic7777777
Sonic7777777

I'm a big fan of the line rider beta 2, so I'm probably gonna get it for Wii. Or maybe Wii and DS?

Drewman419
Drewman419

Im giving OnStar47 a 1up because he has bada** darth vader picture.

OnStar47
OnStar47

This will be awesome, im a hardcore linerider, ill get it those who bash this game simply havent played it, or have had a very serious accident recently ;)

old_school24
old_school24

i dont care about what others say, this is gonna be a lot of fun (yes.. better ways to save tracks too)

iSpeak_InClicks
iSpeak_InClicks

I think it'll be awesome! Shut up, don't laugh at me! Sure would stink in the car, though.

Kniterait
Kniterait

It's quite fun. But not worth money.

zilcher
zilcher

The DS doing lines? I thought it was a child friendly machine.

Lt8653
Lt8653

Seriously, who's gonna by this game when you can play it free online??

cehok3
cehok3

the creator of this game is a SLOVENIAN :D

Vendre
Vendre

So... if they are turning free online games in payment games..... What the heck WILL be free then?

Shura117
Shura117

This is the first time i've logged in since like a year ago... And I gotta say thebanewolf, your comment is the greatest I have ever seen on gamespot.

thebanewolf
thebanewolf

i recently bought a new computer with gforce 8800 2 gigs of ram and core 2 duo 2.66 ghz... will i be able to run this game?

UncannyChuckles
UncannyChuckles

I don't see anything saying its going to be a "full" price game; I don't know what everyone's so worked up about.

genoman_7
genoman_7

Buying it. Line rider mobile = teh sex.

corn999
corn999

wait a second, you're NOT going to pay for this game???!! Thats the craziest thing I've ever heard of. (end sarcasm)

Danyman_21
Danyman_21

Honestly why would you pay money for this game

roryk666
roryk666

anyone who pays full price for this game is a fool

tony2077ca
tony2077ca

why do you people care about garbage like this

DoomCrumpet
DoomCrumpet

Sweet! This game is addicting but can be so frustrating at times.

eheid
eheid

This game is sooooooooooo addicting!!!

dollomite704
dollomite704

I wonder if I will need to upgrade my Commodore 64?!

DRIV3R24
DRIV3R24

Holy crap! I knew this game was goin to be good, but not this good! :) The only thing that would make it better is if you could use the Wifi from the DS and download a song to go with the track. CANT WAIT!!!!!! :D:D:D

xmg0
xmg0

i hope my win 95 comp can play this

TheAcejoel99
TheAcejoel99

should be on wiiware for $10, not full retail.

loggerz
loggerz

I preffer to play Call of duty 4 rather then having to pay for this game m8s. Sayoonara :p.

Akinaka
Akinaka

Line rider is the sh*$ I remember playing it on my laptop in the middle of my intro chemistry lectures. And i made this thing go one for dayz, because it was a 3hour class and i had it going through labs and beaker and stuff since it was chemistry (lol). Then my professor caught me doing it, he had been walking around the class room while we were watching a video, and were supposed to take notes and i was so concentrated on line rider that i didn't notice him creep to my side of the class room. Then after the video he made an announcement that i had a presentation for the whole class had me hook it up to the class room projector (my laptop that is). The greatest part was when i had my little sledder jump over me and my lap partner startin a fire with the chemicals and it was a blast i even had the guy jump over a cartoon version of my professor it was a classic, but yeah love line rider mad props to the creators.

shaunmc
shaunmc moderator staff

Septim007: You are my new hero

jacobmjl
jacobmjl

could and should be a 360 arcade game

Septim007
Septim007

Line Rider's fun, especially if you know how to make a decent track. In my best track, it starts out normal, then he jumps over a gap, narrowly missing a hungry fish, then , he slides over a ledge and lands in a graceful nose slide. But wait, there's no track ahead, so he flies off the track over a chasm of evil spikes, all whilst doing many flips, but is saved when he lands on an 80 degree angle slope. He speeds down the slope at intense speeds. The track starts to flatten, but then he starts going upward, which he does until he reaches te very tip top. Just as he barely makes it over the huge vertical hill, he shimmies his way into what looks like more danger! He finds himself going down a small hill and up a small ramp over a gap where two flaming meteors are about to collide, and just barely escapes their crushing force. After that, he slips down under a speeding anvil and up to the top of the hill, where he proceeds to make another jump. Just then he reallizes what he's about to land on. It's.. a sea monster! He narrowly misses the creatures jaws of death, and nose slides down the creature's serpentine neck, then rolls gracefully on the creature's back like he's riding over hills. And to finish it off, he expertly flings off the sea monster's tail and yells "Yabba Dabba Doo!!!"

dsdude22
dsdude22

i can't wait for this one, the original was great but a version on DS would be very nice despite having problems with screen real estate i still think i'd buy it for DS

djburnzy1
djburnzy1

I was one of the first people to play the original on deviantart. i had already added him from interactive buddy =D Good times. good times.

Sphenodonta
Sphenodonta

I want to get this for DS and make some super mega ultra track

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

Looks like fun. I sort of hope with the Wii version they use the nunchuck as a quick-change tool like in Trauma Center. Repeatedly reaching for the tool change may break the action.