This might be the fifth MX vs ATV video game by developer Rainbow Studios, but it is the first since previous publisher, THQ went rather spectacularly out of business. Now under the ownership of Nordic Games (or that company that bought loads of THQ franchises), MX vs ATV: Supercross is looking to recapture the essence of the more successful earlier games in the series while providing enough quality content to offset the games’ last-gen only development and somewhat ropey visuals.
MX vs ATV: Supercross isn’t what you would call a flat out ugly game, but in a world in which 60fps and crisp clean visuals are now becoming the norm, Supercross’ decidedly muddy textures (please excuse the horrible pun) and largely uninspired artistic design do make this a somewhat tough sell. It is home to a few nice incidental effects, the track deformation still looks pretty cool and the stadiums and riders, (thanks in large to the games’ commitment to authenticity and licensing) certainly have their moments, but hey, what I’m trying to say is – don’t get your hopes up. This is a last-gen game in every sense of the word, and while it’s not a bad one by any stretch of the imagination, the engine and technology is certainly starting to show its age.
Still, get past the ageing visuals and old fashioned presentation, and you’re actually left with a relatively robust racer complete with all of the game modes, tracks and racers that were so horribly hid behind pay walls in THQs ill-advised MX vs ATV: Alive. There are still a few too many pay wall items knocking around for this latest release, but for the most part, this is an enjoyable, fully fledged racer available at a decidedly affordable price point.
With plenty of events to complete, a career mode covering 5 series events (250 East, 250 West, 450 MX, 450 ATV, 450 MX vs. ATV) and a solid set of online (up to 12 players) and local multiplayer options, there is certainly plenty of content for fans of the sport to dig their teeth in to. Not only that, but the game is also home to 17 Supercross tracks that cover both MX and ATV events. Few are all that memorable, but they do offer up a degree of diversity and again show Rainbow Studio’s commitment to a solid line of immediately available content this time around.
Add to that a full quota of authentic companies and 40+ riders, and MX vs ATV: Supercross actually represents a very solid and carefully crafted recreation of the sport. The actual character models aren’t all that great and animations (or lack thereof) do let the game down at times, but whether your preference is two wheels or four, Supercross certainly has you covered.
As always though, content and visuals count for little if the racing isn’t up to scratch, but luckily, it’s here where MX vs ATV: Supercross shines brightest. The ATVs are actually a little bit twitchy, but once you become accustomed to the rather wild cornering are actually highly enjoyable to drive and different enough from the two wheeled MX bikes to make riding either both pleasingly unique and highly entertaining. As fun as they can be though, it really is the MX bikes that handle with the most nuance and for those with no obvious allegiance to ATVs will almost certainly prove your vehicle of choice.
Via careful use of the right analogue stick, you can manage your balance as your prepare for jumps and landings. You can get by without using it of course (well, just about anyway), but the inclusion gives the game a special kind of weight with races often playing out like a modern day Excitebike. There are tricks too, but these are hardly mentioned in the game and seem to provide little benefit to racing beyond looking cool. Their inclusion isn’t damaging, but with the system in place, it seems a shame that there are no points or boost system attached to their use ala Pure.
The visuals might lack a bit of flair but with a great audio track (if you’re in to rock and dubstep that is), fantastic sounding vehicles and a wealth of official licensing and content, MX vs ATV: Supercross actually overcomes its relatively budget development to provide one of the more gleefully enjoyable racers I have played this year. It’s not without its faults and certainly has its fair share of rough edges, but the fantastic handling model and the developers clear love for the sport combine to rise Supercross above its station.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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