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Hill Climb Racing 2 is a Surprisingly Good Mobile Game

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Navigating the rocky waters of free-to-play mobile gaming takes perseverance, to be sure. At worst, you’ll be subjected to an endless parade of unskippable ads and half-baked gameplay. At best, you’ll find an experience that eats up a shameful number of hours and manages to draw you back in day after day. For racing games, that’s what I’ve found in “Hill Climb Racing 2.”

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A mountainous improvement

The first “Hill Climb Racing” was a simple affair: drive as far as you can without running out of fuel or flipping over onto your head. The farther you go, the more money you make, and the more money you make, the further you can upgrade your vehicle of choice. The controls, too, are simple. All you have to do is press down on the right side of the screen to accelerate — or pitch forward if you’re in the air — and press the left to brake or pitch backward.

“Hill Climb Racing 2” takes that concept and expands on it in numerous ways. To start, everything that made up the first game is now just one of four modes in the sequel, now called “Adventure.” There’s also a competitive mode where you race against other players across the globe, one where you can join a team to collectively cover as many kilometers as possible within a week to earn awards, and special events that let you tackle courses everywhere from a pastoral countryside to the moon.

The vehicles of Hill Climb Racing 2

While the game’s style is cartoony and its drivers are caricatures, there’s a surprising amount of depth to its vehicle selection and customization. You’ll start the game with the default car from the original game, which is appropriately dubbed the Hill Climber. However, depending on how much money you accrue, you’ll be able to unlock models ranging from the relatively practical Dune Buggy to a series of wildly floppy bikes to high-powered speedsters like the Supercar.

If that’s not enough, each of “Hill Climb Racing 2’s” available vehicles feature four upgrade categories like engine power, tire grip, torque distribution, and more, depending on the model’s intended purpose. Each one has 20 discrete levels, meaning that every vehicle can be upgraded a total of 100 times.

“Hill Climb Racing 2” isn’t exempt from stereotypical free-to-play issues — there are still incentives to spend real-world currency, intermittent ad breaks, and the like. The difference for me is that it gives you plenty of opportunities to progress without forking over your hard-earned cash while still being genuinely fun.

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