When the mega publisher THQ went out of business, a lot of their intellectual properties went up for auction. Other publishers bought the lion’s share of near completed projects and successful franchises, but a lot of less successful IPs were grouped together into what amounted to a fire sale of sorts. Chief among the buyers was Nordic Games, who scooped up what was left of the remaining IPs. One of these was the MX vs. ATV series, which Rainbow Studios had previously developed under THQ before they went belly up. The interesting thing here is that THQ shuttered that studio and canceled the series in 2011 due to it no longer meeting expectations even with it’s aggressive DLC strategy.
Which brings me to MX vs ATV: Supercross, the first entry into what is supposed to be a revival of the franchise. And see, the thing about revivals is that they should be something to get excited about. Unfortunately if fans of this series still do exist, I really don’t think they will be pleased with what Nordic has put together here.
"Unfortunately if fans of this series still do exist, I really don’t think they will be pleased with what Nordic has put together here. "
If you’re going into this game expecting unique game modes to shake up the typical racing formula, I have bad news for you. Supercross consists of a few career mode options, some standard fare multiplayer modes and 17 tracks, most of which are completely interchangeable in locale. There isn’t a lot here to play, and I say this as someone who honestly couldn’t wait to be done playing this title. I suppose this is supplemented by having each race be 5 laps.
At 5 laps by default, the races feel too long because there is really no sense of speed at all. Most of the time the game makes you feel like you are trodding along like those little race tracks we all had as kids. You know the ones, the car has a little needle thing on the bottom to keep it on the track, and no matter how hard you squeeze the trigger the cars just don’t go any faster. And that’s the problem, there is nothing fun about feeling like you are on a set railway, just going through the motions pretending to have a good time.
"There is nothing fun about feeling like you are on a set railway, just going through the motions pretending to have a good time."
Not to mention that all of the tracks look largely the same. Maybe that is inherently the case when you are making a game based around a real sport, but I just can’t seem to see the appeal. It would have been better if there was a track editor or something but nothing like that exists in this game and I feel it would have gone a long way to making it feel less drab and rudimentary.
So here’s a weird thing. During 3 of the races I participated in, the AI cheated. Okay, that sounds crazy right? I thought so too, but it’s true. On most of the tracks, you are kept in-bounds by foam blocks that will move when you hit them. This allows the player to skirt some corners if you want to get cheesy, but the game will usually reset you back to a previous position on the track when you go too far. On not one, not two, but 3 occasions the AI not only skirted the barriers, but blatantly drove right through the middle of the track ignoring them in order to gain the lead.
"On not one, not two, but 3 occasions the AI not only skirted the barriers, but blatantly drove right through the middle of the track ignoring them in order to gain the lead. "
I assume this was just a pathfinding glitch but the fact that it happened more than once makes me wonder if it wasn’t part of the AI’s clear rubber banding tendencies. For the uninitiated, rubber banding in racing games is when you have a clearly defined lead and the AI miraculously catches up to you or passes you. This happens a lot in Supercross. I suppose it is to build tension but when the races are overly long and plodding, it is super annoying for the AI to pull ahead (or cheat) when you are about to finish for no real reason at all.
The fact is that this genre was elevated past this sort of drudgery years ago, and you have to wonder why Nordic would bring it back just to do nothing with it. In fact, the previous entry into the series, MX vs. ATV: Alive, even looks better graphically and the UI and HUD elements are much sleeker. That’s not even taking into account that it has more modes and variety. I can’t even do the standard review thing of saying “Fans of the genre will like this”. I can’t recommend this game to anyone really. Maybe you would be better off hunting down a copy of Alive if you need to scratch the Motocross itch. There’s something admirable about bringing back a once dead franchise, but not when it amounts to, well, cynical shovelware at best.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
It can only get better from here.
Cheap presentation, Ugly graphics, AI will cheat to gain the lead, Rubber banding AI, No real sense of speed, ATVs control like tanks, Soundtrack is grating, No track customization whatsoever, Lack of content all around.