Hands On MX vs ATV at E3 2014Filed inside: News
For those who haven’t yet experienced the mindless fun of a good motorcross or ATV game, I highly recommend that you give one a fair shot. Having been a minor fan of some notable titles such as ATV Offroad Fury, I was mildly intrigued to have had the opportunity at this year’s E3 to get a look at Nordic’s revival of the MX vs ATV series with MX vs ATV: Supercross.
This may come as a pleasant surprise to loyal fans of the genre, as it has been three years since the previous MX vs ATV: Alive. With the THQ franchise having been picked up by Nordic Games, Supercross is aimed to be an arcade-style supercross experience, featuring 250cc-450cc motorcross bikes and ATVs tearing up 17 dirt tracks in stadiums across the US. Game modes include the staple East and West circuit leagues along with everyone’s favorite: Free Mode, which lets players ride at their leisure.
During the presentation for the game our presenter, David, highlighted a few neat aspects about the racing in MX vs ATV that allow for newcomers and experienced racers alike to have an enjoyable experience. First, he demonstrated the return of the clutch and suspension pre-loading mechanics from previous incarnations that enable tighter, faster turns and higher jumps that have a profound effect on racing performance.
Another cool feature that David touched on was dynamic track degradation that impact bike handling in the latter stages of a race. Each turn on a berm leaves an indentation that will either help a rider make the turn faster on the next pass if hit just right, or throw them off the turn altogether. Naturally, this little touch could go unnoticed by those who aren’t interested in the intricacies of racing. But racing veterans will be able to use the mechanic to their advantage in the circuit.
Perhaps my favorite mechanic that was showcased in our hands-on demo was an in-flight reset button that let you restart on the track and continue with the race. For example, If you were to take off of a large jump at the wrong angle and it hurtled you off-course, you now have the option to skip the lengthy, inevitable crash and reset on the track before the take-off. This minor feature in the game is huge for novices or easily-frustrated racers as it allows them to remain competitive in a heated race versus the AI or friends. You don’t have to wait for a cloud-riding avatar to fish you and your bike up and reset you on the track like in some other racing games, which would normally set you so far back in the race that victory is most likely impossible.
Racers will also have the ability to custom-tailor their bikes to suit their particular racing style. David beamed with pride as he reported to us that the developers at Big Bang Entertainment spent a lot of time modeling real-life mechanical parts and translated their functions into the game. “You can alter almost every aspect of your bike, ranging from tires, mufflers, chassis-you name it”. Likewise, the player’s racing avatar is just as customizable; able to select gear that the pros wear and in whatever colors they like. Unlike the bike mods, however, the changes to the rider’s equipment is strictly aesthetic.
When given the opportunity to try the game first-hand, I was happy to notice that the controls felt tight and responsive. After a couple of laps, I had entered the groove known as “rhythm riding”, where you stick every turn, bump and landing; it felt really satisfying.
Unfortunately, MX vs ATV: Supercross is a budget title. Meaning that despite the positive aspects of the game, there are a few technical and visual issues that will most likely not be addressed. For instance, the distinct lack of shadows and unpolished environments were hallmarks of most early PS2 titles. Seeing these make a comeback on a now-last gen console was disappointing.
Graphics on a budget title are easy to forgive, but the most condemning flaw about the game came from the lack of variety in game modes and locations. I asked if there’d be a Free Mode that kept score on the stunts and tricks you achieved and allowed you to compete against a friend, but was given a hesitant ‘no’. Is the emphasis solely on supercross races? “Yes”.
So while the game plays as a solid arcade circuit racer, that is all it is. There was the faint glimmer of hope when possible DLC was announced to introduce more tracks and modes at a later date, but I remain wary. It’s good to see a revival to a venerable series such as MX vs ATV. However I believe it deserves more work and investment than it received during development.
Nevertheless, MX vs ATV: Supercross will release with the bargain price of 29.99 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, Mac, and Linux sometime this fall, making it a good option for a stocking stuffer or introductory game for those interested in supercross racing.