The MX vs ATV series has long been known for its realism and unique offering of driving both kinds of dirt track vehicles – the MX bikes and the ATV quad bikes – and this year’s iteration sees some nice tweaks to the formula. However, the overall amount of content threatens to distract from the quality and it relies heavily on future DLC.
MX vs ATV Alive once again brings the dual stick controls from the previous title, allowing for exceptionally precise and fluid command of your vehicle – after some practice at least. To begin with you’ll take corners either too early or late, as well as downright losing control on the narrower sections of track and when an opponent side checks you. It’s initially tricky but soon becomes second nature and the precision of control you soon gain is a true testament to its thoughtful design. It allows you to master your biggest rival to victory: the realistic physics.
With a focus on realism, MX vs ATV Alive requires a slight adjustment to your play style. Contours, surfaces and jumps plays a huge part on the way your vehicle moves and controls and the new real-time track deformations means new lines in the dirt, sand and snow are created mid-race for you to utilise or avoid. It’s dirt racing at is best; exciting, impactful and with a terrific sense of speed, with an AI just as competitive as any human. Unfortunately, as fun as the core experience is, it fails to dodge repetition due to a lack of available content at the beginning and a lack of variety later on.
Throughout your career as a racer you earn experience points towards new levels and new gear to customise your vehicles. The amount of customisation is tremendous, allowing you change practically every component as well as the decals and your rider’s gear. However, in order to progress beyond the handful of initial events you need to reach level 10, and further events follow a similar level barrier. It results in a grind of the same events in order to acquire enough experience points and it gets old fast.
The two primary modes are ordinary race with customisable difficulty, availability of vehicle type, and lap length, and a short course variant. The other modes are free-roam and multiplayer. Free-roam challenges you to complete optional feats like long jumps and acquiring freestyle points for three stages of medal which in turn grants you experience points. It’s a lot of fun and certainly keeps you entertained even when you’re not chasing down these challenges. It’s addictive to drive around a small map pulling off tricks and perfecting your skills, and shows off the physics wonderfully. Multiplayer includes two-player split screen and the online mode lets you take on 12 human opponents. It is as robust and enjoyable as you would expect but the content included in both single and multiplayer is little more than a shell for you to build your own experience within, and this is also promoted through the sales model.
Downloadable content is promoted as extra customisation options with the intent of providing you with tracks, modes, kit and more which you can choose to download to shape your experience however you want. It’s an interesting idea that relies entirely on consistent support from the developers to fill the currently void stores. Time will tell if it delivers on this front.
MX vs ATV Alive is a little thin on content but is undeniable fun, and with the recommended retail price being a little lower than the majority of other titles out there as well as retailers dropping it further, the bold sales model may prove a success in the future. In the meantime if you’re a fan of the series or dirt racing takes you fancy, then MX vs ATV Alive is a more than worthy addition to you collection.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 12/05/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a physical copy of MX vs ATV Alive for review purposes by the publisher. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.