MX vs. ATV: Supercross (Video Game Review)



The fact that the MX vs. ATV franchise is getting another entry is something of a miracle after former publisher THQ crumbled into bankruptcy. Nordic Games quickly snatched up the rights to the series alongside comparatively more successful and popular properties like Darksiders and Red Faction, suggesting that they either had a lot of faith in MX vs. ATV’s cult fanbase to keep driving sales or aimed to reach a broader audience. That in mind, Supercross is an odd game, keeping newcomers at arms length while giving long-time fans a decent, but disappointingly truncated and stripped down outing for the series.

For those unaware of the MX vs. ATV franchise, they’re racing games which put players in the seats of either a two-wheeled motocross bike or a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle. You compete either against a group of rivals on the same type of vehicle or in a madcap free-for-all as two-wheelers battle quad bikes. Out of the gate, you’ll notice there’s no tutorials to be found aside from the odd load screen hint. Newcomers are left to fend for themselves and while the core mechanics aren’t insurmountably complex, there’s certainly enough quirks in the controls and bike handling to make you wish there was at least a brief primer to clue you into the best tactic for taking turns and feathering the throttle, etc.
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There’s a bit of a learning curve, but after you’ve gotten used to your bike’s ability to make 90 degree turns in a fraction of a second, things become much more enjoyable. There’s noticable differences between the handling of the two different styles of bike and there’s inherent challenge as you learn how to shift your weight to take corners efficiently and measure your speed to land with the curve of ramps rather than gunning your engine non-stop until you hit the finish line. The core gameplay is a lot of fun, especially in the MX vs ATV events as everything descends in slam-heavy chaos as riders crash into each other (you’ll be wishing for a Road Rash-style attack button at times) or veer off-track sending barrier boxes littering your path.

But after your first few races, you’ll start to notice that each one feels awfully similar to the last. The 17 track main career mode offers next to no variety, with nothing but arena-based dirt tracks that only offer the slightest differences in circuits, dips and ramp placement. There’s a trick system (again, with no tutorial), but it’s entirely superfluous; there’s no dedicated trick events and your ability to pull wheelies and mid-air daredevil feats has no baring on the outcome of any races. You unlock new MX and ATV bikes and upgrades as you progress, but they really offer superficial changes. There’s a handful of online modes, too, but they’re sparse and already underpopulated.
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One of the big draws for the bulk of the MX vs. ATV franchise was the amount of vehicle variety, from dirtbikes to monster trucks (and even airplanes), or the breadth of gameplay options as you could play to your respective vehicle’s strengths in a wide range of arena races and offroad events or hop into track editors and score-based trick challenges. There’s none of that gameplay diversity here, making Supercross feel like a regressive step back from the first few entries in the series.

All considered, the first outing for the MX vs. ATV series under Nordic Games’ banner is a noticeable step back for the franchise. Considering the budget price, the solid, fun racing gameplay might make Supercross appealing to hardcore fans who want a little more of the same. But the sheer lack variety in terms of tracks, events and vehicles means that newcomers looking to get in on some dirtbike action would probably be better off picking up one of the series’ more robust earlier entries for less than half the price.

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MX vs. ATV: Supercross is available now on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Click here to buy the game from Amazon.co.uk.