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July 7, 2008
MX Vs ATV Untamed - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
11/3/2008THQTHQRainbow Studios1-22-8
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Vehicles look pretty good.
Now I dunno (great English there Michael! - Dave) about you guys, but back in 1998, I was one of those PC gamers that lost hours into a game called Motocross Madness. It was great fun just cruising about on a bike pulling stunts and crashing into other CPU-controlled racers. Over the years Rainbow Studios have more or less managed to keep this feeling running, improving as each new incarnation of the reasonably simple concept came out. This latest release, MX Vs ATV: Untamed, pits Motocross bikes against All Terrain Vehicles. That's got to be great right? Read on for more...

Like all good racing games, there's no plot or story present here to stop you from getting to the action. That's not to say there isn't lots to do... all in all there's 8 different game play modes to pick from here, ranging from a career mode, through to individual races, to massive cross country endurance hauls, to quick events for those eager to get straight into the action. In addition to all the usual modes we've come to expect in Rainbow Studios' games, we also have the two additional modes, Endurocross and Opencross, to make up the numbers. Unfortunately, as can be expected, both modes are really just variations on already established modes, but nonetheless, it'll give you more to do!

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Racing the Motocross bikes.
To further add to the mix of things to do, there's a whole host of different vehicles to choose from, ranging from Motocross bikes, to quad-bikes, to monster trucks and all the others in between. Each of the 8 different vehicle classes handles differently and has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the customization aspect of the game means that you're going to have your hands full trying to learn every in and out of this title!

The same can also be said about events as while there are several different locations in which to race, each location has countless different races, stunt runs, etc. to be completed in each world. Honestly, you know that saying about "what about the kitchen sink?"... I think that's about all Rainbow forgot here when they were trying to throw everything into the one release. But more is not necessarily always better.

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Some close racing...
MX Vs ATV may be great value if you intend to tackle it all, but that's not to say the game is without its pitfalls. After all these years of Motocross games, the games have started to suffer from what I like to call Dynasty Warriors Syndrome. That is to say that, while the game is not bad or boring, it is starting to feel very much like we've been here and done all of this before. Nothing about MX Vs ATV: Untamed really feels all that fresh and new if you've played any of the previous games. Each new feature present in this incarnation of the franchise just feels like a slight variation on a pre-existing element of gameplay. The game really feels like an expansion pack rather than a new title.

Another big complaint I had whilst playing this game is that some of the events feel more like a chore than fun. Now, correct me if I'm wrong... but gamers generally play games for enjoyment. Some choices made by Rainbow, such as the fact that you have to complete certain events before you can restart them (meaning if you get off to a horrible start, you need to finish the event in last place before trying again) really go against the fun factor here and hurt the gameplay a bit. Sure other games have similar issues, including Burnout: Paradise, but it seems much more annoying in MX Vs ATV.

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Another MX Vs ATV PS3 Screenshot.
Finally, landing a jump apparently isn't as easy as we had always been lead to believe! The game has a new physics engine, which really improves the feel of driving, but for some reason landing is an entirely different matter. No matter what you do, you can never be sure you're going to stay upright when you land. It's an annoying feature that can really get quite frustrating; especially in events where you need to score a lot of points via tricks. Perhaps it takes more time to get used to than we have put into the game, but by now most people would have given up on trying to land properly except the most hardcore fans.

Unfortunately, the issues surrounding gameplay aren't the only drawbacks to this title. Off-road racing titles are often some of the prettiest looking titles when they hit shelves. Apparently someone forgot to inform Rainbow Studios of this, as this particular racer looks quite ordinary and far too clean. What do I mean by that? I mean that when you drive a quad-bike through a massive puddle of mud on the current gen hardware, you should see mud flying up, or at least the tyres on the bike get dirty. This is especially true when Motorstorm, a first gen PS3 title, managed this aspect so nicely.

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MX Vs ATV Untamed has small frame-rate issues.
Graphical flaws don't end with this though. Frame rate issues come into play at times, levels often look bland and textures appear stretched. Some elements honestly look like they've come straight out of the PS2 version of the title. In general, this is a mediocre looking title in almost every way, and where it isn't mediocre, it's less.

And finally we have the audio, which is nothing spectacular to write home about either. The soundtrack is nice, and luckily you can turn it up enough to try and drown out the very plain-sounding engine noises and such.

MX Vs ATV: Untamed is a decent game. I don't want to argue against that point. There's a lot to do and for the most part it's quite enjoyable. It will satisfy fans of the series that have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment and will keep newcomers amused at least briefly. But make no mistake, this is by no means the next gen version of off-road racing we've been promised. If you want that, I'd say wait for Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, as you won't find it here.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

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GRAPHICSUninspiring; mediocre at their best, bland at their worst.
SOUNDInconsistent and fairly average. There is a nice soundtrack though.
GAMEPLAYIt's fun, but there are flaws. It could be a lot better.
VALUEHeaps to do if you get into it. Priced at $AU99.95 too.
OVERALLMX Vs ATV: Untamed is more of an expansion than a new title, but it's not too bad. Give it a try, but perhaps rent it first.

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