October 9, 2001
MX 2002 Featuring Ricky Carmichael - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating RRP
21/9/2001THQPacific Coast Power & Light1-2G$99.95
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Close racing is common in MX 2002.
Why is it that car racing games sell so many more copies then motorbike and motocross based video games? Both types of racing are just as exciting, perhaps more so for motorbikes because of the higher risks involved with the sport. But look at the success of the Need For Speed, Gran Turismo or Colin McRae Rally series' to see what I mean. Now try and name some successful motorbike racing games, let alone a series. Not too easy is it? THQ's MX2002 featuring Ricky Carmichael is yet another motocross game with plenty of close racing and some awesome stunts. This game definitely has the potential to capture the hearts of racing fans, but will it?

Pacific Power & Light, the developers of this game, have packed MX2002 full of features. The game features 30 real life riders from the 125cc, 250cc and free-style ranks. These include Mike Larocco, Kevin Windham, Ezra Lusk, Carey Hart, Trevor Vines, Mike Jones and new amateur sensation James "Bubba" Stewart, as well as Ricky Carmichael of course. The game also includes 22 motocross, supercross, amateur fantasy and freestyle tracks which are extremely varied and quite detailed. Some of these tracks are straight forward racing style tracks while others will require you to hone your jumping, tricks and landing skills to perfection in order to complete the game successfully.

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May as well call the ambulance.
MX2002 includes some fairly standard single player modes, the bulk of which will see you playing through the career mode. When you begin a game you will be prompted to select your rider, bike, goggles, helmet, shirt, boots, as well as a team. It's even possible to enter your name and a number which appears on the back of your rider throughout the game. Nice. The career mode also unlocks new tracks as you progress through it. Fortunately for newcomers to the game the developers have also included tutorials to enter, which have been well placed to help you complete the upcoming races. These tutorials are mainly used to teach you how to perform stunts, power slides and more advanced options in the game such as pre-loading. You can skip the tutorials, but it's probably not wise to do so unless you are a solid gamer.

Also exciting in MX2002 are the numerous multi-player modes that are available. These include the wonderful Stunt Showdown which sees you trying to earn the most stunt points to defeat your opponent. Definitely a lot of fun when both players are equal in ability. Other multi-player modes include Challenge Race and the Step Up Challenge which are both equally as exciting for quite a few hours. As with so many other games these days the game includes a wonderful Create-A-Rider feature which allows you to create your own rider to use in the game.

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Crashes are a common occurrence.
Handling of the bikes in MX2002 seems to be just about perfect. The game is easy to get into, but will take some time to become an expert. Using the throttle and the power load (to give you more speed and boost off the jumps) are crucial to success in later levels of the game. While jumping and performing stunts it is important to land the bikes correctly at just the right angle or you will face a massive loss in speed, or worse still, a time-consuming crash. Land with the nose too far down, or the bike on an angle, and it's pretty much all over.

One of the most impressive things about this game is the opponent AI. The developers have fine-tuned it perfectly so that the other riders aren't perfect and will often crash, but aren't stupid either and will provide quite a challenge at times. In fact if anything the riders are possibly a little too much on the tough side, but that only lengthens the games longevity.

While this is a pretty solid game overall if your tight on cash and want a motorbike game you may want to consider Namco's spectacular looking MotoGP 2 which is due out in December, or Infogrames' Atari MX Rider due out in late October.
There is little to fault with MX2002. There are plenty of game modes, riders and tracks to master, and the handling of the bikes is pretty much spot on. However, as with so many other racing games the biggest complaint is with the crashes. On several occasions I was slammed from behind without any time to avoid the collision and was forced off the track and off the bike. For some strange reason this rarely happens between the CPU controlled bikes. That is the second problem in that if you go more then about a bikes length off the track you mysteriously crash and fall off the bike. Another minor niggle, and it's pretty minor, is the inability to re-start a race while actually racing. The game forces you to quit the race, go through the menus, and start it again.

Graphically, MX 2002 is somewhat of a mixed bag. One the one hand the riders and bikes are fairly well detailed - although the texturing is a little poor - and the animation, particularly while performing tricks, is solid if not brilliant. The big problem with MX2002 arises when you try to turn sharp corners or hairpin bends which sees the graphic engine struggle a little and the frame rate drop off and stutter for a few moments before continuing down the next straight at a fairly constant 25fps. It becomes quite annoying, especially in tight races when the graphics struggle around the final corner and you turn too much and crash into a barrier as a result. It's not horribly bad, but it can be annoying occasionally.

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Getting some major air over the bar.
The sound throughout this game is pretty good. The bikes have some wonderful engine noises and seem realistic enough while the game has some grungy music to complement the roughness of the sport. If you don't like grunge type music then the game may become a little tiresome as there is only moderate variety in the tracks.

MX2002 Featuring Ricky Carmichael is a solid game let down by poor graphics when performing tight turns. It really does become slightly annoying at times. Still if you're a motocross fan then this is the best game in the genre to date and has plenty of options and game modes to keep you happy for some time.

Graphics Sound Gameplay Value Overall






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