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Karl W
17 May, 2005

MX vs ATV Unleashed Review

PS2 Review | The best off road racing game ever created?
Freddy vs Jason, Aliens vs Predator and now Mx vs ATV. Whether it be games or movies humanity loves seeing what would happen if their favourite icons went head-to-head. THQ looks to capitalize on this fad by giving the two step-children of the extreme sports world, motocross (MX) and all-terrain vehicles (ATV), the chance to compete against each other in all of their grunge-filled glory.

Off-road racing games have been very popular for quite some time now. I can remember when I was younger the hours I spent amazed by Excitebike on the NES. But a lot has changed since then. We have seen many radical improvements between each generation of video game consoles. Now realism is getting closer both graphic wise and gameplay wise. The first time I really came back to the off-road genre was with Motocross Madness. At its time this game was pretty much the top of its class in all ways. I spent hours with my joystick ripping up dirt and pulling of tricks that seem to break the rules of gravity. But soon after the appeal was lost and the genre seemed to die down. Now THQ has released a monster of an off-road game that goes by the name MX vs ATV Unleashed.

Rainbow Studios have made some pretty fine off-road games including ATV’s and motocross but MX vs ATV Unleashed really is the icing on the cake. The thing that amazed me the most at first was the sheer number of different vehicles available. Not Only are there ATV’s and Motorcycles but you can also choose monster trucks, sand rails, helicopters, bi-planes, and many other vehicles. While this might sound like it might mess up the gameplay with all of the choices available, it does not because everything is integrated seamlessly.

That aint a pretty picture for the driver behind..

That aint a pretty picture for the driver behind..
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The best part of the singleplayer experience is sure to come from career mode. In this mode players will get to select what type of vehicle they want to drive and see if they have what it takes to win on all of the tracks. This mode really prepares you for the rest of the entire game. Besides the career mode there are some other modes that you will be able to play that will keep you entertained. Some unique modes of racing are the Waypoint racing, and the Hill Climb races. Waypoint racing are where you are set on a vast area to race around to different points in the area as fast as you can. The waypoints consist of two poles, and you have to drive (or fly) over them. You can't skip waypoints and have to pass completely through them in order to go through the next way point. If you beat all of your opponents through the waypoints, you will win the race.

The hill climb is by far one of the craziest gameplay types in the game. You race against a few other people up an insanely steep hill. Many times in which, you don't always make it to the top! It is actually quite fun when nobody can make it to the top of the hill, or when everyone gets pilled into another, and you all end up rolling down the hill. However, by using the clutch on your vehicle correctly, you can easily have the upper hand and avoid this pile ups and get to the top faster. Other modes include championship races and short track.

Multiplayer for this game is slightly disappointing. This game features so many different types of vehicles that it is a true shame that the developers at Rainbow Studios didn’t exploit this further and create some truly unique multiplayer modes. All players are left with is racing other characters online or via splitscreen. While it is still fun to take part in this, it would have been a lot better to have some truly innovative multiplayer modes.

The physics for the vehicles in this game are really good. It will take players some time to learn how to correctly land their vehicles after they jump a hill; after they learn this, it will become second nature to them. One thing players will have to understand is the use of the clutch. The clutch is a very crucial part of this game because it will help them take hairpin turns among other things. Plus when players go over different bumps in the road, hills and other things, the vehicles react differently, which is a very good thing

The trick system is much like any skateboarding game but without some of the depth. Basically tricks are performed by using two buttons along with a modifier. The analog stick can be pressed in any direction as you launch yourself into a jump, follow this quickly by one of the trick buttons and a modifier if it strikes your fancy and voila, there’s a successful trick. While it’s obvious that the focus of the game is still racing, it’s nice to see that the developers gave a nod to the other elements that the sport has to offer.

mmm donunts

mmm donunts
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If the graphics aren't the finest you'll find on the PS2, they're certainly serviceable. The dirt textures on the roads look appropriately dingy, though the bikes don't always kick up as much mud as you might expect them to. Also, tread marks left in the dirt on lap 1 will have disappeared by lap 2. The same is true for roadside obstacles, such as padding or signage that happens to get knocked onto the track--on your next go-around, that same object will be back in its original place. These are just nitpicks, however, for an overall solid graphical package that runs at a speedy clip and saves the special lighting effects for tracks that make the most of them--such as the snowy Northern Lights course complete with an aurora borealis painting the sky.

The music and sound is a constant mix of current rock hits and engine sound effects. Expect to hear groups like the Black Eyed Peas or Power Man 5000. But don’t expect a humongous variety. After an extended period of time playing, the music, though I tend to like it, all melts together. It reminds me a little of playing Crazy Taxi for the fourth straight hour and later hearing The Offspring in my head in the dead silence of the room. Good stuff in small doses I suppose.

So what’s not to like about MX vs ATV? AI opponents are not this great. Regardless of the vehicle, AI riders aren’t the brightest, they follow a set path regardless of what is going on around them. The AI is surprisingly lacking in aggression as well—even on the “hard” difficulty setting, riders seem content to go about their merry way even when directly bumped by another rider. In light of your presence, the AI does little to impede your progress, often letting you pass without contest. While winning is fun, the passive nature of the AI doesn’t seem to fit the rough-and-tumble nature of the event. Partially due to the lacking AI, you’re not required to really improve. There’s a shallow learning curve when first playing the game as you learn how to handle all the different types of vehicles and take certain types of jump sets; after learning these basic techniques, however, you’ve mastered everything MX vs. ATV Unleashed has to offer. But the biggest concern is the loading times. I’ve played some pretty slow loading games in my time as a gamer but I think MX vs ATVtakes the cake.

If you enjoy unlocking items to use later on, then you will love MX vs ATV Unleashed. There are a ton of things that are unlockable in this game. Not only are there additional vehicles to unlock, but you will also be able to get your hands on new clothes for your riders and additional tracks to race upon. Another way to get additional items is to purchase them with the points that you will accumulate throughout the entire game. All of this gives better replay value for the game, and gives gamers further incentive to continue playing.

MX vs. ATV Unleashed is exactly what fans of the two sports have been crying for in the past few years. The game is a blast to play for newbies and fans of the previous iterations through increased depth and close races that’ll keep everyone coming back for more. The game has so much content to offer it’s almost hard to decide what you want to start with. It’s always a good sign when the toughest decision you have to make is what game mode to start with; such is the case with MX vs. ATV Unleashed.
The Score
Some great rainy weather fun. But nothing spetacular.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 Comments
8 years ago
That's an impressive review for a game that requires little more from you than hold in X and steer your bike. The soundtrack is so-so and in comparison to other extreme sports titles, such as SSX Tricky, this one falls well short. I don't know any extreme sports fans who stuck with this one - in fact, one gave it back less than an hour after getting it.

It might be fun for beginners, but serious fans of sports sims or racing games can give this one a miss.
8 years ago
Thats what I originally thought Noogle! But theres actually alot more to it. Clutching and preforming some of the more advanced tricks is really difficult to get the hang off
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  THQ
Developer:
  Rainbow Studios

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