Review: MX vs. ATV: Supercross (PS3)

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Title: MX vs. ATV: Supercross
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (2.2 GB)
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Nordic Games
Developer: Rainbow Studios
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), €29.99 (EU), £19.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
MX vs. ATV: Supercross is also available on Xbox 360, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 3 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

It was a sad time in gaming when THQ declared themselves bankrupt. For a long time people were uncertain what would happen to the studios and games that THQ used to own. Then Nordic Games stepped up and purchased the rights to several IP’s and some studios. One of those was Rainbow Games who make the popular MX vs. ATV series.

Gameplay:
I have always been tempted to try out this racing series and finally get to have a go on the sixth in the series. I instantly jumped into the first menu choice: Single Race. After a quick load I was at the starting gate and lined up with eleven other racers. The bar dropped without warning and I watched as everyone else raced ahead. I wasn’t off to a good start I thought to myself as the engine roared to life and I set off along the dirt track.

With the throttle button (R2) fully pressed I hurtled over the first jump and into the air. I anticipated my landing area and using the left stick, adjusted the angle of my bike. Both wheels made contact for a clean landing on the downward slope of the next jump and with a healthy amount of speed I was gaining ground on the pack.

Another racer made a mistake ahead of me and crashed into the foam boundary blocks along the edge of the track. I quickly swerved to avoid the fallen rider and his bike. During the short load screen for the race I had noticed a ‘Quick Tip’ referring to the right stick adjusting the riders balance. I put the tip to good use and leaned into the tight corners. The back of the bike swung round and I effortlessly made the tight turns and passed several more racers before the second lap.

As I went round the course for a second time I saw that the ruts in the dirt made by all of our bikes were still there. As each lap progressed the path taken by the other A.I. racers and myself became clear to see and even caused me to slide further than I liked round one tricky corner. I luckily ended the race in first place and saw my rider receive a trophy on the podium.

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There is a Career Mode which spans five events with an assortment of the the seventeen different tracks in the game. I picked a bike out of the few that were available, most still needing to be unlocked by completing races. You’ll also unlock gear and outfits as well as the track to race in the single player mode.

I decided to swap my motorcycle with an ATV and have a race again on the first track to see how they compare. Drastically is the short answer. Having four wheels tear up the track allows for more deformation and grip, but the larger engine means more speed and weight. This in turn affects the amount your character can lean into turns.

I completed the first career event in a very close first place and then moved on to the next eight tracks in the 250 East event where the tracks and arenas began to look better with a better distinction between locales. There were also some difficult tracks, especially the final in Houston which had the track snake round an outer tunnel and onto the finish line. My first lap was painfully bad as I hit all the wrong jumps and landed on the crest of every hill. Then after a few nail-biting laps I went from a miserable last place to a fantastic win to claim the first place trophy.

In the Single Race mode you can select to practice on a track which removes the other competitors and boundaries allowing you to freely drive around the arena. This is a good place to learn the tricks as I would often just end up as a crumpled mess on the dirt. Motoclub Depot is the last option in the main menu and is basically a way into the PlayStation Store for content updates. At present there are none to select.

With this being my first foray into the world of Supercross I was hoping for more information on the riders and vehicles. Maybe even some of the history behind the sport. MX vs ATV Supercross just lacks some of the depth and details that would have gotten me more interested in the experience. It took a while just to learn the controls and nuances as there are no in-game tutorials or guides. All of that could partly explain the budget price but it’s really no excuse as this is the sixth game in the series.

A couple of tips for any newbies, the first is “Pre-loading” where you pull down then up on the right stick to launch your rider higher and further off the jump. An indispensable requirement when you want to clear a few tricky hills. Another helpful hint is to ‘slip the clutch’ when turning and release to get a small speed boost. These do turn it into more of an arcade experience than I was expecting.

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Visuals:
For a PS3 game this looks okay with a respectably fast and smooth frame rate even with all the riders on-screen at once. You’ll also see a lot of kicking up dirt and dust and deforming the track which stays during the entire race.

At one point I landed poorly causing my character to be flung from the bike and slam into the ground in a painful and realistic way. As the crash happened the camera switched to an action view from as if from a television camera at the side of the track which the bike slid into causing it to shake. When you knock into other riders the physics are a lot more forgiving for more of an arcade feel.

Every track is situated in a nondescript arena or stadium which is always packed to the rafters full of people who never appear that close so they can get away with being fairly simple copy and paste sets. The only real distinction for most of the locations was an open or closed roof. I suppose the developers didn’t want to burden the engine with extraneous details.

I mentioned earlier about the forty different riders to choose from, well you can also select from a few custom characters that you can alter in a variety of ways. You can choose different helmets, boots, and outfits all with different colors. You can also add logos and even customizable neck braces to the character then pick a name and number to emblazon on their back and vehicle.

There are three camera views to choose from during a race. Follow Cam is the standard view from behind the rider, and the one I prefer. Pressing one of the D-Pad buttons moves the camera to show the side or front of the rider. Free Cam is similar to the first view but slides the camera to the left and right by pressing the D-Pad. Lastly there is the terrifying Helmet Cam which is self-explanatory but not for the faint hearted.

Audio:
My least favorite part of the game is the music selection, it’s just not my style but does suit the game. The worst part is that you cannot have custom soundtracks. You can set the volume for almost every single sound in the game including the music, so I turn it down to about 20% so it’s almost inaudible.

There is a comical grunt from the riders when they hit into something or someone along with a cheer or cringe from the crowd when you pull off a stunt or crash. Apart from those and the obvious engine sounds there aren’t many other sound effects and no announcements or speech of any kind.

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Online/Multiplayer:
MX vs. ATV: Supercross has multiplayer with up to twelve players online. I would start off as a spectator until the host started the race and it would then load the stage and start as an intermission until everyone else was ready. I noticed a frame would drop every time someone left or joined the match but apart from that it was smooth and fast. The online still featured the track deformation and three different views. You also carry over your vehicle and rider setup from the offline side of the game.

Split-screen Mode for local two players does not allow helmet cam and the textures are a little blurry but apart from that it plays very well. It splits the screen down the middle and zooms out a fraction more to allow a better view of the track.

Conclusion:
While I would have liked more tracks or the option to create your own there is still a decent amount of content to keep you going. With a large assortment of customization options and authentic licensed motocross bikes and ATV’s this is an excellent game for people who enjoy this form of racing. It sadly lacks some depth and content with no information on the forty professional riders, apart from their names and outfits, or the vehicles they ride on. I suppose the lack of content better reflects the lower price.

Rainbow Studios have done a good job with the controls and track layouts. It’s very easy to pick up and play but will take some time to master. Overall it’s a fun and enjoyable game, just a little shallow on the extra content and tutorials which I hope to see in the next installment of this series on PS4.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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