MX vs. ATV Alive Review

By on July 8, 2011

Lacks a bit of life.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

I’ve always been a big fan of racing games, no other genre can match the precision and skill required by these games. However Motocross, probably the most challenging racing sub-genre, has been relatively overlooked by developers; many games being sub-par and not fulfilling the great potential available. Developed by THQ, MX vs. ATV Alive is the 4th game in its series, and can hopefully put in a performance the genre deserves.

I’ll start off discussing the most important part of any game, especially a racing game, the game mechanics. The weight and handling of each of the vehicles feels just right, and definitely doesn’t give you that feeling of pushing a toy-car you get from some games. The racing surfaces have also been modelled really well to give realistic and varied grips; and an aspect that really impressed me was the change in the surface as a race went on. Not only did the appearance change but there was a marked change in the behaviour, which makes races much more unpredictable and challenging.

An important part of the game mechanics when it comes to Motocross, is controlling the weight of your driver. In MX vs. ATV Alive, you control your weight using the right analogue stick, and this plays an important part when it comes to jumps and corners. It also has a vital role when it comes to preventing wrecks, where you’ll have to quickly push the stick in a specific direction to prevent yourself from falling off and losing precious seconds to your competition; you’ll be doing this quite often as the game promotes physical aggression between drivers.

However, there is virtually no help from the game regarding the clutch, locking the suspension, weight of the driver etc. All this can be mastered by playing the game, however there is a steep learning curves for people new to Motocross games.

You’ll be doing all this racing on 12 longer tracks or 4 shorter ones; while there are also 2 free-play areas. The number of tracks is very disappointing, considering the short-tracks and free-play areas are not good for much other than a quick mess about. You’ll only have 2 long tracks available at the beginning, and the others have to be unlocked through an XP system similar to many RPG games.

I’ll describe the system in one word: “broken”. You unlock tracks at level 10 and 25, until then you have to race on the same 2 tracks again and again. It sounds bad, but it is much worse. In between, you unlock different accessories, parts and perks but none of this provides any feeling of satisfaction and seems a bit superficial.

A lot of the monotony can be avoided by playing online instead, which is a lot of fun. But once again, it’s not as good as it could be due to there being only one game type.

The graphics are quite good; the tracks and the wear and tear on them are rendered really well, though there is some texture pop-in and pixellation during multiplayer races. The game does decently as far as sound is concerned, using reasonably realistic SFX for the engines and a soundtrack that is decent but nothing special.

Overall MX vs. ATV Alive lacks a bit of life. The game mechanics are great, but there’s just not enough to keep the gamer satisfied, and this is made worse by the bizarre XP system. It feels like the game has gone backwards compared to its predecessor, and is just another name in the growing list of motocross games that fail to deliver.

The Scorecard
Pretty good as far as mechanics are concerned, but is terrible in all other aspects.
The tracks are rendered quite well, and the realistic effects of tires on the surfaces is impressive, though there is the odd issue here and there during multiplayer.
The engines sound realistic, but slightly wimpy, while the soundtrack is passable.
The game is ridiculously short, but is slightly redeemed by its lower price.
The online races are a ton of fun, and the offline racing can be quite good as well; however the small number of game types makes it monotonous.
The great game mechanics need to be supplemented by some more game types and tracks, and an XP system that is not a wreck. A step in the wrong direction from THQ.


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