For the price of $0.00, you get to take your avatar and compete in this charming and challenging platformer

User Rating: 6.5 | Doritos Crash Course X360
Free games don't come around very often on the Xbox Live Arcade, and they're usually hit or miss, especially ad games like Dash of Destruction or Yaris. Still, that's not to say that none of them are worth playing (they are free after all). Along with Harms Way last year, we got another free game sponsored by Doritos; Doritos Crash Course. Although having nothing to do with Doritos, this platformer starring your very own avatar is fun, challenging and charming.

When starting the game, you get the choice of 3 locations; USA, Europe and Japan. Each location consists of 5 increasingly difficult levels to play through, USA being the easiest location and Japan being the hardest. Without a choice, you play as your Xbox 360 avatar. The game plays like a platformer and your goal is to get through the obstacle course as fast as you can. The game feels and looks like it's from Wipeout and it's just as hard. Tere are no enemies to stop you but there are plenty of hammers, pits, broken platforms and more traps to get in your way. There is plenty of variety and surprises in these tracks to keep you on your toes, like using trampolines, swinging on ropes or hovering on fans to overcome each obstacle and sometimes you need to rely on your own actions (jump, duck or dash). At the end of the level, you are only judge on your time and are either ranked 1, 2, 3 or 4 (1 being the best, 4 being the worst).

The game plays smoothly for the most part and the controls are very responsive, though running really fast can be hard to control, especially since if you run too fast, you fall down. Those looking for a real challenge will be very pleased here as the later stages can get quite difficult. You start off in the USA course, which isn't too hard, but then it jumps by the time you get to Europe and Japan is almost unforgiving. I suppose there aren't enough levels for the difficulty to increase properly, but there is a difficulty spike there and the Japan levels are beyond frustrating. Still, the challenge is welcome and it doesn't ruin the fun. The game looks and feels exactly like the TV show, Wipeout, and it's just as intense.

The multiplayer only has one mode: race. You and up to 3 other players, online or off, must race each other to the end of the course. Unfortunately, you don't see the other players on screen as they are only represented y cardboard cutouts hovering next to you, but you at least get the idea on where they are. There aren't many people online, but multiplayer makes the game even more fun than it already is.

The graphics are pretty basic, but pleasing to look at. One problem I have with this game though is the depth perception seems a bit off at times on the swinging hammers. Sometimes it's ok, but other times it can be hard to tell if it's going to hit. Another problem is, although challenging, some of the obstacles can feel a bit cheap, like hardly giving you enough time to make it through or the fact that just barely touching another obstacle instantly kills you.

For the price of absolutely nothing at all, your avatar gets to compete in a Wipeout-like gameshow filled with some of the most crazy and challenging courses you will find on XBLA. Crash Course won't last long and the later levels can be maddening, but the charming gameplay and challenging design are well worth the download, not to mention the fact that it's a free game makes the deal even sweeter. You don't even need to read a review to tell you it's worth it.