Game Rant’s John Jacques reviews MX vs ATV Alive
It’s been two years since THQ brought us an MX vs. ATV game but does the successor to Reflex succeed in delivering a worthy sequel that can compete with other racers? Read on to find out.
MX vs ATV Alive takes a variety of steps forward (and some backward) for what is ultimately an enjoyable experience for fans of the series, but one that might leave those new to the series looking for more enticing content.
With this title THQ is hoping to set a standard in the industry – yes, with this unlikely trendsetting title – by lowering the game’s cost out-of-the-box by around $10 to attract buyers, hoping to offset this discount with DLC purchases. It’s an interesting gamble, and one we’ll have to wait to find out if it pays off for THQ.
When you decide to pop in MX vs. ATV Alive and go for a race, the most noteworthy improvement is THQ getting the controls clocked down to a fine art. This is one of the best portions of the game, in which the rider will steer with the left analog, balance with the right and control both clutch and break simultaneously to keep themselves on track and hitting the curves, jumps and landings as best they can. Players new to the system will take some time to get used to it, and will likely go a little bit off-course while they adjust – but once you get down the timings, they feel responsive and natural.
Career Mode no longer features like it did in Reflex and indeed is technically non-existent. Instead, riders will gain experience by completing normal races, short tracks or going in for a freestyle ride. The options are limited to just two races in the beginning until leveling up to Rider Level 10, but after that, players will be open to a pleasing variety of tracks to compete on, as well as one or two more short tracks. Progressing in the levels will attract MX legend James Stewart who will eventually become someone to compete against, though the difficulty can be changed any point in the game. All-in-all, the actual race mode is pretty fun, offering challenging AI should players choose to up the difficulty. Those looking to beat ghost racers or set some record lap times will be irked to find out there isn’t a solo ride option, and the only workaround is to go on a private Xbox Live party and race yourself – which kinds of messes up the online leaderboards.
One of the better features of previous MX vs. ATV games are the Freestyle Ride options, in which the player has an open landscape to get some air and pull off stunts. Fans of the mode will be disappointed to discover only two maps – an open beach dune level and a packed Quarry meant for bikes – and thus ends the options. Players who bought the game new will get the code for the self-dubbed MotoClub Depot package. This brings with it free DLC, among which is the James Stewart Compound, arguably the best freestyle map of the entire game and unfortunately, the third and final one currently released. Despite how well-designed they were, the lack of freestyle maps is disappointing, especially if you aren’t able to download the Compound.
With freestyle losing its edge, does MX vs ATV Alive deliver in multiplayer racing? The answer is plainly, yes. It only takes you a few moments to find a race or freestyle arena to slug it out with the online crowd, which will give those used to AI a run for their money. Matches don’t lag and there’s always the option to play with a buddy on the same console, a feature a lot of racing games are unfortunately lacking these days. While split-screen strangely doesn’t work when going online, there’s always nothing like lapping an ATV when the rider is right next to you.
Lastly, the graphics of the game are standard for your average next generation title – they’re not mind-blowing, but they’re good enough to look at all the same. This especially goes for the variety of racing maps that will have players traveling through desert to tundra. The occasional graphic glitch or clipping error is bound to happen, but it’s a rare enough occasion so as to not distract from the game.
In short, MX vs ATV Alive has mastered the simple necessities: it has great controls, a good variety of race maps and solid multiplayer. However, it cuts back on features like a proper Career Mode, Freestyle options and currently lacks enough DLC to warrant buying a MotoClub Depot pass. This is a game for MX vs ATV enthusiasts, but those new to the series might want to consider Reflex for the options if they want less of an arcade-bare-style title. This is a solid three star title, which just needed a little boost in the feature department to win the trophy.
MX vs ATV Alive is now available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.