MX vs. ATV: Supercross Review (X360)

Rainbow Studios Returns to Form

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MX vs. ATV: Supercross Screen 1. Nordic Games

Buy MX vs. ATV Supercross at Amazon.com

MX vs. ATV: Supercross may have a different publisher, as Nordic Games snatched up the franchise when THQ went under in 2013, but with developer Rainbow Studios (MX Unleashed, MX vs. ATV Unleashed, MX vs. ATV: Untamed)  still at the helm it plays just as well as ever.  It isn't the same as the old games content-wise, though, as it has a laser-like focus on supercross (indoor stadium) racing instead of the kitchen sink approach previous games had.

 This shift in focus makes it easily the best supercross game yet, but fans hoping for the sprawling open worlds and tons of vehicles previous games offered may be disappointed.  If you just want a pure MX vs. ATV racing game, though, MX vs. ATV: Supercross is one of the best.  And the bargain price tag of $29.99 make it pretty hard to resist.

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Nordic Games
  • Developer: Rainbow Studios
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros:  Fun gameplay; solid track designs; focus on Supercross; bargain price
  • Cons: Unlocking stuff; lackluster presentation; none of the bells & whistles of past MX games

Features

As mentioned above, MX vs. ATV: Supercross only features supercross racing that takes place on winding tracks inside sports stadiums.  There are no outdoor motocross races.  There is no focus on doing tricks (though there is a trick system if you want to showboat).  There are also no sprawling open worlds to explore.

 This is just a pure racing experience with none of the fluff.  Longtime fans of the MX vs. ATV franchise may be disappointed by this news, but honestly the airplanes and monster trucks and other vehicles never controlled particularly well anyway, so putting the focus back on MX and ATV racing is a welcome change as far as I'm concerned.

 

The game features 17 track layouts in different cities across North America.  It doesn't carry the real AMA Monster Energy Supercross license, however, so the track layouts and even the stadiums you race in bear little resemblance to their real life counterparts.  The game also doesn't ship with licensed bikes, though you will be able to buy them as DLC (there's only a Honda MX bike up for sale at the moment). Unlike THQ's ill-fated DLC-focused MX game, MX vs. ATV: Alive, however, Supercross actually has plenty of content on-disc.  It does feature more than 60 real life riders as well as more than 80 real life parts and accessory manufacturers, though, which lends some measure of authenticity to the title.  

You have to unlock almost all of the content by playing through various season modes.  Only a couple of tracks are open at the start and you have to unlock all of the different classes of bikes.  You start with 125/250f East and West MX championships before moving up to 250/450f classes.  You also unlock cute little 50cc bikes, but they don't offer much as far as racing goes.  It is kind of a shame you can't use the big boy bikes right from the start, but the racing is enjoyable enough you'll open them up pretty quickly.

 When you tire of single-player championships, there are up to 12-player races on Xbox Live.  

Gameplay

The racing in MX vs. ATV: Supercross is extremely solid.  The controls are simple - gas and brake on the triggers, clutch on left bumper, and you lean your rider around corners and preload your shocks with the right analog stick - but it is pretty intuitive, especially if you're a longtime fan of the series.  Something the game does that I'm a big fan of is that there aren't huge penalties for bumping into other riders - you pretty much just keep on trucking no matter what.  This isn't realistic, but it sure is a lot more fun than having A.I.

dudes crashing on top of you constantly and ruining your race like they did in MX vs. ATV Reflex.  

The track designs deserve some special praise as well.  The 17 tracks are all really different from each other as far as the layouts and difficulty of the jumps go.  You don't necessarily want to launch as far as you can on every jump, and some paths through turns are better than others, so finding the best rhythm around each of the tracks is the real key to doing well.  Some tracks have tiny jumps.  Some tracks have crazy huge jumps all over.  Some tracks have way too many whoop sections (lots of 2-3 foot bumps placed close together so your bike kind of skims the top of all of them if you're going the right speed).  Some have no whoops at all.  The different MX and ATV classes all feel unique (because of power differences) and tackle each of the courses differently as well, so it really gives the game a lot more variety than you'd expect.

Graphics & Sound

The presentation in MX vs. ATV: Supercross is pretty lackluster overall.  The menus scream "bargain bin" at you right from the start and the same 8-second music clip that plays on loading screens (and thus restarts several times as the game loads) is just hilariously cheap.  The action out on the track looks decent enough, though, with nicely detailed bikes and solid looking stadiums.  There isn't any fanfare for any of it, though.  No announcer.  No fireworks.  No celebration when you win a championship (there is a lame shot at the podium when you win races, though).  You're just shuffled back to the menus to do it all over again.  

The game features a first-person camera view, but it is the stuff that motion sickness nightmares are made out of, so I don't recommend it.

The crowd is also sort of weird in that they only cheer for what you do.  When you make a pass, they go wild.  The rest of the race, they're sitting on their hands as if the other riders don't matter.  You could probably hear crickets if not for the roar of the engines.  Those engines do sound good at least, with the two strokes and four strokes sounding nice and distinct like they should.  

Bottom Line

As the first dedicated supercross game in seemingly forever (Seriously, what was the last one?  EA Supercross 2000?), MX vs. ATV: Supercross earns points just for existing.  It also plays really well too, though.  Supercross can be hard to get right as the tracks are so narrow and winding and the racing is usually really tight, but MX vs. ATV: Supercross nails the balance (more arcade than sim) and is a ton of fun to play.  I wish the presentation wasn't so dull, and it is a huge step back in terms of content compared to past MX games, but the $30 price tag more than makes up for it.  If you are a MX vs. ATV fan, and especially if you like supercross, then MX vs. ATV: Supercross is an easy game to recommend. 

Buy MX vs. ATV Supercross at Amazon.com