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MX vs. ATV: Alive PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 7.0
Sound 8.0
Value 7.0
Distributor: THQ
Review Date:
June 2011
Ash Pinch


MX vs. ATV: Alive

It seems like THQ have been involved with the MX vs. ATV franchise for a while now, they have made some huge leaps with this sub-genre over the years.  Having been a long time fan of the series, and having missed out on the chance to play MX vs. ATV: Reflex addition to the series I was pretty excited to jump into the franchise again.  For those not in the know, MX refers to Moto-cross racing and ATV refers to All Terrain Vehicle or quad bikes if you prefer.  There is not a huge range of competition in the genre but THQ continue to work on new ways to revolutionise the genre.

There are three main race types, well two Ďraceí types available in Alive.  These are Nationals, Short races and Free ride.  Nationals are full of the long outdoors tracks that have been present in MX vs. ATV games forever.  Short races are very short outdoor tracks that cross-over at some point, these can be chaotic and fun, it was disappointing to find just three of these available on the disc.  The final type is free ride, which is as it sounds and always has been.  There are some challenges to earn more experience, I found myself trying to accomplish these goals just to avoid completing the same races over and over, but more on this later.  There also multiplayer in there as well, these are the same sort of modes as single player.  It was disheartening to not be able to compete in any stadium events; these were a highlight of the untamed championships.

As previously mentioned I had missed out on Reflex, in this instalment dual analogue controls were added, having missed this I was eager to try the system out.  Basically the system involves controlling the Ďbikeí with the left stick and the rider with the right stick.  It is an interesting concept, and adds a lot of extra control for the player; you can make the rider turn sharper by moving the right stick in the same direction that the bike is turning, and can be tapped for held for different corners.  The system works well, it will take a few races to adjust to this but overall it adds some nice depth to the experience.  There is still the sometimes jerky handling that has always been present, veterans will immediately adjust to this and beginners should pick it up within a few races. 

One major gripe I have with the implementation of this unique system is that there are no tutorials for this or anything else for that matter.  It is simply assumed that you are aware of the system and know how it works; you are expected to know that you can load your suspension before a jump, and that you control the rider with the right stick.  This is not a game killer by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be nice to have this within the game, even for some of the finer points on controlling the rider independently or loading before a jump.  Another thing that can become aggravating during a race is if you hit a tyre, or some other object, this will not lead to the rider coming off the bike, but will instead lead to you becoming stuck on this item, costing valuable time.

The amount of work that had gone into the handling of the ATVís felt like it was lacking compared to that of the bikes.  It did not feel  as though they had any real weight to them, they floated around the track a little too much like the bikes.  Something that was disappointing was the lack of vehicle types available in Alive, in Untamed there were truck, and buggies and all sorts of things.  Despite the fact that none of these were overly excited, it did break up the racing a little bit and added to the longevity of the game. 

With regards to longevity, there is no structure to the racing in Alive, and there is little incentive to play through all the races.  Instead of a new set of races being unlocked through obtaining a certain result they are unlocked based on rider level, which is obviously influenced based on earning experience points.  Here lies the issue; there are only three levels that unlock additional races, 0, 10 and 25.  The issue is that if you win each race you do not have enough experience points to unlock more races, leading to grinding, which is always irritating in a racing game.  This will differ from person to person, but I enjoyed the championship structure in Untamed and found the whole progression to be aimless, there is not ultimate championship to win, just some slightly more difficult tracks.  There are only a handful of different locations too, with the majority of the tracks coming from only a few locations, tropics, snow and desert seem to make up most of the tracks.

The lack of on disc content is part of the way THQ marketed this game, a cheaper smaller game that you could pay for the additional content if you wanted it, there just doesnít seem to be enough on the disc to really showcase the product.  With just four tracks unlocked from the get go and grinding to unlock more, this makes it difficult to want to rush out and get more tracks, especially if you still have to unlock them after paying for them.

Not all vehicle levels are available from the get-go, you will be stuck on 125cc MX bikes and 250cc ATVís until you reach level ten, and by this time your 125cc will be upgraded and it will be difficult to step down to a non-upgraded bike.  You are able to pay to unlock everything, but this just seems like paying for a cheat code, and should not be required to avoid grinding just to level up.  Back on the bikes, there are no licensed bikes, so donít expect to be able to jump on a Honda or Yamaha, you get two made up brands and that is it for each class, they both looks slightly different and have marginally different, and irrelevant stats.    You are able to customise the bikes but this adds little to the overall experience.  There is some licensing for the other components of the bike and rider gear but this does not really make up for the lack of real vehicles.

Graphically the game looks nice, the colours are vibrant and the track deformation looks good.  The track deformation adds very little to how you ride the track.  Overall the graphics are good, there are a couple of minor issues though, one is that shadows donít look very good, and there arenít enough of them.  The second issue is that turning the bikes without moving the rider looks incredibly awkward; these are only very minor gripes as the graphics are by far the best in the series.

The sound of the bikes can be downright nasty at times, but I mean that in the best possible way, with the speakers cranked right up it can be offensive.  Hearing the insane revving of a 125cc MX bike is awesome, or the lower purr of the 450cc MX bike as it hurtles down a straight is breathtaking.  THQ have done a nice job making the sounds feel authentic, and this is no more evident than when all the bike are revving their guts out at the starting line waiting for the gate to drop.  The music is ideal too, with a good solid rock soundtrack, as always with music this is always a matter of opinion, but it just felt right, there was nothing out of place here.

One last area of MX vs. ATV: Alive that bothered me was the menu set-up, it was just boring.  There were only a few screens to navigate through, although this is likely a product of a lack of content.  Navigating to single player to find only three race types was disheartening to say the least.  It felt like there was too much crammed into a couple of columns instead of spreading things out a bit.  This would have also allowed for a bit more of an artistic style to have been applied.  At the end of the day it works, itís not broken, but itís just there, nothing more, nothing less.    

Overall, this game is good, the game play is a nice step up for the genre, all the components are there that could have made this a great game, and itís just that it is not presented ideally.  I am not sure if this as a result of the marketing ploy, but it feels incomplete, like I said itís all there, it just not wrapped up entirely well.  If you are a fan of the genre and are willing to fork out some extra cash for the DLC then this is an excellent choice, but expect that you will get what feels like a disjointed experience.


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