Game Review: MX vs. ATV Alive
Release: May 10, 2011
Developer: THQ Digital Studios
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Players: 1-2 (local splitscreen), 2-12 online
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
MX vs. ATV Alive puts you in the seat of a Motocross bike or ATV, then sets you loose on 16 different tracks. Everything about this experience is fully customizable: Do you want to race on a bike or ATV? Do you want to race against both types of vehicles, or only one? What kind of handlebars or tires do you want? What color? The ability to make your bike look the way you want is cool, but I wasn’t impressed after seeing what a game like ModNation Racers is capable of.
THQ does a good job of giving the player superficial options, but there is one thing I really didn’t like about my experience. Your racer begins the game as a “Weekend Warrior,” aka racing n00bsauce. I’m going to throw around RPG colloquialisms here, because RPG elements are prevalent in this game. Starting at level 1, you gain experience after each race depending on your finish, the difficulty level, and what achievements you earned. There are a ton of in-game achievements to earn, such as “Complete any trick without wrecking” or “Lap an opponent.”
There are two things I love about this game: Rider Reflex and real-time track deformation. Rider Reflex is controlled with the Right Stick and controls the rider’s shifting weight. This is an essential skill to master if you want to top the podium. Proper weight shifting allows you to take sharper turns at higher speeds, dramatically improving your performance. Rider Reflex is an added level of complexity that I didn’t expect, but it is undoubtedly a good thing and attention to detail that I appreciated.
The dynamic track deformation was another nice detail. After all, the tracks are made of dirt, and you can’t realistically expect the track to look the same at the end of the race. I didn’t notice a dramatic effect on performance, but if there was consistent, heavy traffic on a certain part of the track it became somewhat noticeable by the end of the race.
With all racing games, we expect a certain level of monotony. MX vs. ATV, unfortunately, takes it to a whole new level. Positive RPG elements, like rider and vehicle progression, are bright spots in this game. A big negative is grinding. That’s right; the grind of RPG games has found its way into a racing game. When you start single player, you will notice there are four tracks available to you: two National tracks (about 1 minute per lap) and two Short Tracks (about 20 seconds per lap). To unlock additional tracks, it is necessary to reach rider level 10. Depending on your finishes, this could mean racing the same four tracks dozens of times. The rest of the tracks get unlocked at rider level 25, which means more grinding the same tracks. This is the most annoying and unwelcome aspect of MX vs. ATV, and frankly made it not fun. Give us the majority of the tracks upfront!
If I want to grind, I’ll play an RPG. I don’t know how that “feature” finagled its way into the game, but it really hurt my overall impression. This game is otherwise pretty fun and easy to jump into, including the online multiplayer. I would have loved some kind of season or tournament feature, but that didn’t happen either. If you want a Motocross and ATV racing game, you found it.
- Local and online multiplayer
- 12 National tracks, 4 Short tracks, 2 Free Ride areas (3 with the free DLC)
- Need to grind to unlock more than four tracks
- Good Rider Reflex and dynamic track deformation
- In-game achievements
Final Score: 6 out of 10