MX vs. ATV: Supercross Review (Xbox 360)
Nordic Games has resurrected THQ’s MX vs. ATV series with MX vs. ATV: Supercross, bringing with it many of the same features that fans of the franchise have come to expect. It’s great that they want to bring this THQ property back to life, but perhaps some things would be better left alone. And by some “things,” I mean this franchise.
Do you wish to travel back in time? Look no further than MX vs. ATV: Supercross, because it’s a nostalgic trip to the recent past and offers up an experience that will call to mind the days of the PlayStation 2. Rainbow Studios has made a solid effort to bring the MX vs. ATV series to the forefront, but while the thought is admirable, the execution is clumsy and results in a game that features the barebones basics the series is known for without very many bells and whistles. The end result is something that looks like a complete console game, but almost plays like a stripped down, iOS version of what it was trying to accomplish.
The graphics are absolutely nothing to write about. Heck, they’re not even worth a post-it note to home. Character models look flat and boring, seemingly culled from the PlayStation 2-era’s catalog of generic designs. The crowds are literally flat and amount to not much more than flashing camera lights and blurry dots. While crowds aren’t necessarily too important to the overall racing experience, it’s still a little strange to look out to the stands in the middle of a lengthy jump to find yourself staring at what could be a Monet pointillism piece. All of the riders themselves look like they were formed from a cookie cutter template and then just reskinned with the game’s many licensed outfits. Even the customizable racers don’t offer too many options other than the changing of pieces of gear like helmets, shirts, pants and visors. I’m not expecting BioWare-level customization, but it would have been cool to be able to really make my racer my own.
Which brings me to the Career Mode and how it could have been so much more engaging. It’s rather simple in the fact that it just has you choose your racer, a vehicle with which to race and then drops you onto tracks. You’ll race around and complete five laps before moving on to the next track to do it all over again. If you place in the top three, then you’ll get a short sequence that shows you and two other racers on a podium, performing the same waving animation at the crowd. It gets terribly boring. Even just a little bit of pizazz would have jazzed up the mode and made it more engaging. Any sort of trimmings would have been welcome. Instead, it just feels like playing the Single Races mode on a set path, unlocking tracks as you go on.
When racing, you can choose between the superfast motorcycles or the slightly more stable and powerful ATVs. You’ll have an easier time riding around on an ATV though, because the physics makes it so that the two-wheeled motorcycles are more likely to cause you to spill out if you land at a wrong angle, while the ATVs’ four wheels help straighten you out even if you don’t land as smoothly as you wanted. With that said, it’s still pretty fun to try to beat both human and AI-controlled racers and master the tracks. It just feels overlong when you have to complete a total of five laps and endure the headache-inducing bumps and jumps of the dirt tracks. You are not in for a smooth ride at all, so get ready to feel your controller vibrate like crazy and to never get the feeling that you’re really going all that fast.
The sound design is decent, at the very least. While the selection of songs isn’t very expansive and features lukewarm pop-punk that makes me long for the classic tracks from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, the sound effects of the vehicles are pretty satisfying. But once you start going over a series of bumps and hear the staccato whirring of your engine accelerating everything other second, welcome to headache town.
MX vs. ATV: Supercross is a valiant effort at resurrecting a franchise that was thought to have been doomed, but rather than feeling like it was brought back to life, the series just feels as if it was simply unearthed. Here’s to hoping future iterations have more to offer than a few laps around a dirt track.
This review is based on a copy of MX vs. ATV: Supercross provided by the publisher for Xbox 360.