MX vs. ATV Untamed is the latest in THQ’s series of motorcross sport event games, and the first in the series to be featured on a Nintendo platform. The game revolves around racing a Motorcross dirt bike or ATV through a series of indoor or outdoor events while pulling off crazy jumps, stylish tricks, and trying to achieve number one to get money to customize your bike, as well as unlock other levels and goodies. Oh, and lots and lots of mud!
Sounds pretty simple and fun right? Well in order to mix things up, Rainbow Studios added a bit of depth to the game with the inclusion of rhythm racing, a technique new to the series that uses timed inputs to help you dominate the competition. MX vs ATV Untamed offers gamers a versatile choice of control schemes. Between the Wiimote and Nunchuk, Wiimote with or without Wii Wheel, or the Classic Controller, you can use the scheme that fits your play style. Personally I felt that the Wiimote was a better set-up for the games mechanics.
Rhythm racing relies heavily on a manuever called “pre-loading” which basically comes down to whipping the Wiimote forward to increase the distance of your jumps, or backwards to give you more air. With most of the courses in the game containing ridges, and hills to sky off of, let me tell you this technique comes in handy. What’s really odd is that there is no pre-loading when using the Classic Control set-up, another reason why using the Wiimote in any form is a better preference.
But how much fun would it be to just speed around the track jumping high and far to get the gold? Not much, and it’s the inclusion of pulling off tricks while you race that also adds to the gameplay. You can pull off tricks by holding either the C or Z buttons on the Nunchuk and moving the Wiimote from left to right, or up and down (a la Excite Truck). While tricking you can hold the stunts and build up your score, or you can combine gestures and add to your score multiplier.
And We’re Off!
If it just came down to tricking, and rhythm racing while going for the gold, the game would get old pretty quick. Thankfully there are various modes mixing up the action in both single and multiplayer modes. The single player modes hold the meat of the game, if you want a campaign type experience or a quick race you can do that. Want to just do a bunch of tricks and build up a highscore? Head over to Ski Jump and get it on. Just want to do some crazy jumps or climb a huge hill and take in the scenery? Head over to Gap or Hill-climb mode. And if you’re tired of racing bikes, you can dial up X-Tournament and add monster trucks into the mix. Custom mode rounds out the single player experience, letting you play every track while also tipping the rules in your favor.
The multiplayer is handled offline and online. Offline it consists of split screen action in all the events except for the tournament modes. Online you can play either MX vs. ATV, Machines (which include all the vehicles), or Freestyle. Matches can be played between friends (get those friend codes ready) or by random match making. My experience with the online segment was perfect. I played every single mode and it took no longer than 3 minutes to find a match. The best part was there was no lag at all. There’s also worldwide leaderboards if you want to see how you stack up against the best out there.
Technically the game is just standard, the graphics are in the same vein as Nitro Bike, okay but not nearly as good as Excite Truck. I was also disappointed because it’s supposed to take place on dirt and mud tracks, but the mud and dirt aspects are severely lacking. Sure there are some dust and mud effects, but when riding on huge mounds of dirt one would expect to see dirt more than every once in a while, to top that off your character never gets dirty. A small gripe but still something that took away from he experience. When it comes to racing and the other events, MX vs. ATV has a good definition of speed, but after you hit a boundary or fall after a huge jump (and you will do that quite often even after you master the mechanics and tune-up your ride), you’ll get tired of seeing the same 2-3 fall animations. And another major gripe I had with the game is the way your bike seems to handle on the tracks just feels a bit off, it feels like your constantly riding on an oil slick, maybe that was the effect they were going for, but it doesn’t seem like there is any traction on any of the terrains, whether it’s grass, water, dirt, mud, roof tops, it all feels the same until you change the parts on your machine.
This takes away from the enjoyment of the game and gets worse with the fact that the controls are a bit sloppy. While it’s painless to pull of tricks, and get rhythm racing down, turning is a bit too sensitive. The only way to get even close to a comfortable control level is by customizing your vehicle with upgrades and parts, but that is only possible by winning events and getting money. This can grow to be fustrating, because learning the tracks using the default controls takes a lot of fine tuning, as many of the tracks have numerous twist and turns and are unforgiving if you happen to make a mistake
Hit detection is a little strange, if you’re racing against an opponent you can nudge them, or crash into them, but if you or them crash for any reason and the bike goes careening out of control to the middle of the track players can just ride over it, as well as the flailing rider like they weren’t even there.
The soundtrack to the game sets the pace for the frantic racing, and features a ton of pop culture bands and songs. You can check out artist and songs by going to the option menu and tuning into the jukebox. But that’s it, there is no customizable soundtrack and you can’t even pick if you want to randomize songs or play them in order. Making matters worse you won’t be able to turn off songs you don’t want to hear, and a lot of the songs seem to be recycled unaltered from the rock portion of Madden 08.
MX vs. ATV Untamed isn’t a terrible game, if you’re a fan of Motorcross it may be right up your alley, but if you’re not a fan of the sport or even remotely interested or familiar with it, you may walk away from the game scratching your head. From the start there are a ton of options and while not difficult to learn they provide a challenge. But with no real tutorial explaining the different techniques and how to use them, outside of gameplay hints that pop up before matches, the game throws you to the wolves and expects you to figure things out yourself. While this isn’t bad it could turn off players that are just looking to get into the game. Couple that with controls that need to be mastered before you can win and unlock anything, let alone enjoy the game and I’d say unless you’re a die hard fan of the series, sport or all of the above, this is a game that you’ll probably ignore altogether and will be a rental at best.
- Sloppy Controls
- Poor hit collision and traction physics
- No rhythm racing for Classic Control set up
- Rhythm racing adds depth to the series and isn’t so hard to pull off.
- Online works great and there’s virtually no lag.
- A lot of variety right from the beginning, with more available later through unlocks.