Need For Speed, Forza, Driveclub (sigh) and The Crew – the racing video games market is brimming with new titles to keep the fans happy, but what do these all have in common? Well they’re all focused on driving cars, what about those that prefer the thrill of a crash helmet and handlebars to the comfort of a car? Well look no further because Nordic Games and Rainbow Studios have you covered with MX vs ATV: Supercross.
Dating back to 2005, the MX vs ATV series has remained consistently strong under the direction of THQ but following their liquidation in April 2013 the franchise was left in disarray due to early multiplayer server shut downs and announced content which never came to be.
After a three-year hiatus, now in the hands of Nordic Games but retaining the original development team, the off-road racer is finally back.
As the name suggests, the theme this time is supercross, the stadium-based motorsport which is now a prominent part of American sports culture. While the setting is new, the core features are cannibalized from the best of the series to great effect.
This game, however, isn’t just a rehash of tried and tested ideas, it’s packed with new features. MX Vs ATV: Supercross features a full career mode, with multiple championships, 17 tracks, all brand new to the series, all with multiple circuit layouts and every well-known name in the sport to add that extra level of authenticity.
Now I’d be lying if I said I loved this game from the very beginning, I didn’t, I found it painfully difficult and despite the different tracks and circuits, the environments never really differed too much. Then I began to unlock new tracks, new bike upgrades and modifications and so started to play around with the customization options available in game, suddenly the appeal increased significantly.
Then I began winning the races, playing around with the stunt controls and do you know what I learned? MX Vs ATV: Supercross is an insanely fun racer.
One of the main drawbacks with this game is the starting point, the default settings, the bikes are too slow and seem quite cumbersome especially if you’re new to the franchise as a whole. The initial experience does make for something of a challenge even on the rookie setting but once you begin to master the controls and start unlocking new engine parts, new suspension the game really kicks in.
What new players to the series may find difficult is how the MX Vs. ATV series lets you control both the bike and the rider separately, steer the bike with the left stick, control how the rider moves with the right. How you use this can have a profound impact on your performance, from learning left and right while turning to back and forth on jumps. Mastering this mechanic may be difficult for those more familiar with a steering wheel but this does give you a slightly more involved experience and though frustrating at times can make the game that little more rewarding.
In addition to the extensive career mode, with no less than 11 multi-stage competitions to take part in, you have the option to run a single race or simply free-roam any of the tracks in the game to practice, learn the controls or try and pull off a stunt or two.
If you’re more socially inclined there is also multiplayer options as well, both local split-screen and online competitions for those that want a serious challenge and trust me there are some amazingly dedicated players out there to pit your skills against.
Going back to the customization options mentioned earlier, multiplayer is where these can be their most useful. In addition to maxing out your chosen ride you can really personalize your rider. From the clothes he wears and the equipment he uses to the colour scheme and even put your name on his shirt, it adds a deeper level to your online persona and allows the player to really say “this is me”.
Despite the number of tracks, the online and free-roam modes, the gameplay doesn’t differ too much throughout, it is very basic in the sense that all of the events are simply race to win. Where this game could be improved substantially is in offering other event modes, maybe a stunt combo event, time-trials, knockout, all things that have been seen in other games in the genre. This doesn’t mean that the gameplay is in any way tedious and boring but the addition of modes like these would greatly improve the overall package.
Graphically this game is exactly what we should expect, it’s not game-changing and it doesn’t need to be, it is smooth and flawless for the most part with the only noticeable glitch I found being in the, sometimes physics defying, crash scenes but where physics fail, comedy prevails and so these minor flaws are never likely to ruin your enjoyment.
Overall MX Vs ATV: Supercross is a game for fans of the series, new players may find it a challenge to get into and stick with but it is worth the initial slog. That said, Supercross has taken a much more arcade approach to the core theme and lightened up some of the more realistic driving aspects of past games in favour of a more fun and enjoyable experience, some fans might not necessarily welcome this.
The difficulty settings need a little work and the AI can be infuriating at times as they knock you flying off the track but MX Vs ATV: Supercross really is still a very enjoyable experience online and off, it’s well worth your time.