MX vs ATV: Supercross, Review

Motorcycle games are  as we’ve said so many times before tricky affairs to get right. So often we get a game that screams out about improved physics and all that kind of exciting stuff, only to find that the developers, once again, missed the target just a little.

MX vs ATV: Supercross doesn't pretend to be technically superior in that way. In fact, it never claims to be the be-all and end all of motorcycle racing games. Instead, it promises the player lots of action, across 17 tracks, astride an MX bike or ATV quad.

And it’s a good thing that the game doesn't make promises about realistic physics, because there has been something of a step backwards in this department for the franchise. The result is a fun, arcade style racer in which speed is everything. Not that the developers left physics completely out of the mix, though. The right stick control of the rider attitude is still there, and is crucial for tightening up fast turns and orienting the bike properly for landing. However, this later part, as well as precharging the bike over jumps, feels a bit clunky. Getting it just right is a massive feat, and one that many simply may not have the patience for.

A big thing in Supercross is busting out all kinds of sweet tricks while racing. Airborne antics are a great crowd pleaser. But, truth be told, the system for that particular aspect of this game is far too complex to bother with. Add to this the fact that the game offers no tutorial, and the player will need to spend a lot of time figuring out how exactly it works. It’s a big oversight, and one that takes a little of the joy out of the game.

Additionally, the game’s modes are extremely simplified. Career mode, for example, is nothing more than a selection of races across a particular class. There are things to unlock, sure, but all of these races and unlocks can be accessed through the single race mode too, which makes the career seem a bit redundant. There is no back story or motivation within the career mode, which is yet another oversight.

And yet the game allows for both customisation of vehicles and rider apparel. It’s really strange that there is this depth here, but not in other areas.

And then there’s the AI. It’s got a weird level of elasticity… opponents will zoom ahead of you, and then cruise along at slow speeds which are easy to reel in. It’s almost as though they don’t want to beat you, they just want to remind you that they are there.

It sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, but, quite frankly, there is still a lot of fun to be had here. Perhaps this is a case of being a stop gap while the franchise makes the move to next generation consoles. It certainly looks ready to, because some of the polish that we have seen in previous MX vs ATV titles particularly visually is not here.

It implies that the developers did this one in the background. However, if you can look past some of the idiosyncrasies that Supercross brings to the table, you will find an often challenging, enjoyable dirt racer. The tracks offer great variety, and the five series and varied vehicles tie in to that quite nicely. While it feels like a bit of a step backwards, it’s not a massive one… it might just be that half step required before a massive leap forward. Here’s hoping.


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