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MX vs. ATV Reflex

 

MX vs. ATV Reflex

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PS3
Category: Racing
 
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Author: Tony B

Developer: Rainbow Studios
Publisher: THQ

Features:

Single/Multiplayer
Players: 1-2 (online 12 maximum)
HDTV 480p, 1080i, 1080p
In-Game Dolby Digital
Content Download (in the works)

I didn’t know what to expect from MX vs. ATV Reflex given all the additions made this time around. The all-new Rhythm Racing 2.0 physics engine, which Rainbow Studios built from the ground up, the Rider Reflex control system and real-time terrain deformation sound good in principle, but how well does it all come together? Read on to find out.

Graphics

MX vs. ATV Reflex is a good looking game. From the expansive outdoors to enclosed stadiums the game manages to immerse you visually. Pyrotechnic explosions, the sign girls, the camera man moving in front of the line of racers ready to start, the rider animations and the persistent real-time terrain deformation… it all works very well. Wacky inflatable arm flailing tube man even makes an appearance. When you see details such as the fluttering of racers’ jerseys or fans walking around in the stands, you begin to get a sense that no detail was too minor for the good folks at Rainbow Studios.

There were never any noticeable framerate issues. I did observe some extremely rare screen tearing and clipping, and some occasional texture building. That being said, you’ll likely only notice the texture building when you’re moving slowly or really looking for it. For the most part the detection/collision physics were good; however, on rare occasion my bike would behave erratically when involved in a collision. Despite the fact that there are some technical issues, they are so rare and/or minor that they don’t detract from the whole experience.

For the most part the game menus are logical and easy to navigate. There is one exception to this unfortunately. In the ‘garage’ menu there are two options, ‘my ride’ and ‘rider.’ Click on ‘rider’ and immediately you’ll have access to a variety of categories of gear to purchase (from helmets to boots). Makes sense right? But to purchase a new ride you must first click on ‘my ride’ and then press the ‘back’ button in order to access the different vehicle categories. All in all it’s a pretty minor complaint, though it does seem strange to not have both menus behave in the same way.

Sound

Altough the sound in the game is solid there is nothing earth shattering here, nor is there anything too terrible. The hard rock music suits the whole MX/ATV vibe down to the ground. The race introductions by David Lee are appropriately enthusiastic and gravelly voiced. The roar of the crowd, the cacophony of your bike plus the other racers blasting off the start line, the thud of pyrotechnic explosions, and the engine sounds in general are all good. The one minor blemish with respect to sound is the fellow in a headset who mutters something indecipherable prior to the start of certain races. Instead of just sounding like he’s saying something, perhaps he could actually relate a tip or strategy regarding the track you’re about to ride.

Gameplay

MX vs. ATV Reflex begins with you creating a motocard (e.g. your rider) and then offers you the opportunity to play through a highly recommended tutorial. The tutorial is a ‘meat and potatoes’ set of six basic lessons about how to control your rider and motorcycle. In simplest terms the left thumb stick controls your motorcycle/ATV and right thumb stick controls your rider’s position/balance—this is the Rider Reflex control system in a nutshell.

I was honestly a bit leery of the Rider Reflex control system because I thought that it might add an extra level of complexity without adding any tangible benefit to the gameplay. Yes, it adds some complexity and steepens the learning curve a bit; however, having the ability to control your rider’s position increases the level of control and realism and makes MX vs. ATV Reflex substantially more satisfying and ultimately more enjoyable.

This brings us to the persistent real-time terrain deformation. This feature is nothing short of brilliant. The earth is actually carved up by the tires, forming trenches and ridges in the process. It can’t be overstated that these are not just cosmetic effects. Serious ruts and humps grow as the race progresses, requiring you to choose your lines carefully and make more use of the Rider Reflex control system. The combination of terrain deformation and the Rider Reflex control system create an entirely new and engaging gaming experience.

There are seven vehicle classes including MX lite, MX, ATV, UTV, Sport Truck, Sport Buggy and Sport 2 Truck which you’ll unlock as you progress. You’ll probably find yourself riding the MX’s and the ATV’s most of the time because the larger vehicles cannot make use of the Rider Reflex control system. Trust me, after you’ve been spoiled by the Rider Reflex control system you won’t want to use vehicles that can’t capitalize on this feature.

There are three major game modes: Arcade, Motocareer and Multiplayer. You’ll likely spend most of your time playing in the Motocareer and Multiplayer modes. In Motocareer you progressively work your way through seven different track series (41 tracks total) where you will unlock tracks and earn credits to buy new rides, custom modifications, and gear for your rider. The seven track series that you will find yourself competing in are Waypoint (connect the dots style racing); Free Ride (explore forest, desert, mountain and complete off-road challenges); Nationals (out-door motocross); Omnicross (off-road racing with bikes, ATVs, buggies and trucks); Freestyle (big air and tricks); Supercross (stadium style motocross); and Champion Sport Track (racing limited to single vehicle classes).

In Multiplayer you have the option of playing online, split screen or over a local area network. Online play supports up to 12 total players and includes the seven track series plus mini-games—Tag and Snake (think Tron bikes). Quite simply, MX vs. ATV Reflex has lots of replay value.


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