The Average Gamer

MX vs ATV Alive Review (PS3)

Let’s start this article with a Top Tip. While playing MX vs ATV Alive, you might notice that your ears begin to bleed a little. Don’t worry! This is a perfectly normal reaction for your body to make against The Noise that the game produces.

The Noise is all-pervasive. The Noise cannot be escaped. The Noise is generated by the engines of 12 or so bikes and quad bikes nipping around the screen at any given time. The Noise is difficult to describe. It’s roughly equivalent to a bee fucking a hairdryer, and then the hairdryer fucking your ear. The Top Tip for this week is as thus:

On the Options Screen in MX vs ATV Alive, go to “Engine Volume” and turn it to “0%”. Enjoy your non-bleeding ears!

Yes. Also, there is a game hidden somewhere within The Noise, I realised, after managing to turn it off and cleaning the blood off the carpet. Mostly the game involves nipping around dirt tracks on overpowered motorcycles (or quad bikes, which are basically the same except you fall off them a bit less) against some other riders. This you know already. You can tell this from looking at the pictures. What you want to know is, is it any good? And what’s it doing that’s different from everything else?

Progression. You will beg for it.

You know how other racing games have that boring old “every time you beat a track, you get a new one” approach to level design? Yeah, MX vs ATV Alive doesn’t. It uses a fairly arduous XP system complete with rider skills and bike upgrades. At the start of the game you have two large tracks, two short tracks, and two free ride areas to mess around in. You get some more once you hit level 10. Two hours in, I’d just hit level three. That’s not enough progression, even in a game that’s sort of fun to begin with. And MX vs ATV Alive isn’t all that fun to begin with.

Because for all we shout down gimmicks, it’s nice to have them sometimes. This game doesn’t have them at all – it’s straight, by-the-numbers, fairly physically accurate racing. You have to come in first by driving really well. You can’t, say, lamp another contestant. Or drive really dangerously and earn a turbo boost. Or slow down time to take a corner. Instead you just, well, you have to drive really well.

Racing. You cannot control it.

Driving really well is hard. Even on Rookie mode, I found myself struggling to win races using the two-stick control method (left stick controls the handlebars, right stick controls the rider’s position on the bike) which must be satisfying if you can get it right. I couldn’t.

The game has thoughtfully realised that you fall off a bunch, and gives you a “wreck-avoidance” sequence of buttons to push every time you’re about to teeter off and crash into a flowerbed – or a Quick-Time Event by any other name. Of all the innovations to put in a racing game, THQ, Quick-Time Events are not the one to pick.

At level three, by the way, they give you a skill that makes the Quick-Time Events last a little longer so you don’t fall off your bike as much. Gee guys, that would have been really handy two levels ago when I was just starting out. Right now it seems a bit useless.

Tat. Plenty of it.

What else does the game do? Oh, a bunch of officially-licensed crap that you can stick on your bike and all the riders actually exist (I assume, they could just make up the names for all I know) which is great if you really like Motocross and want to create the perfect bike you could never afford or even qualify to ride. But if you really like Motocross you’ve probably already bought the game because it’s been out for the best part of a month.

The music is pretty good too, I guess, but it’s definitely not worth £30. That low price point is worth mentioning, too, as we come to the end of this review – THQ have released it with less content for less money, hoping that it’ll make the rest of the cash up in microtransactions. It’s a noble aim, but there’s just not enough stuff here to warrant even that low price, especially considering how slow progress through the game can be.

Buying. Should you do it?

No. Well. If you want the closest thing you can get to Motocross dress-up, then yes. You can certainly create bikes with lots of branded stuff on them and drive them around courses. But is it a fun game in and of itself? Definitely not.

MX vs ATV Alive is available now on Xbox 360 and PS3.

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