|System: X360, PS3, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tantalus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
MX vs. ATV Reflex for the DS is unique. That means it's different, not necessarily better, so don't get your hopes up. This DS version is different from the console edition, as you might have already assumed, but it's also different from the PSP offering. Believe it or not, that is a good thing because the PSP version is totally flawed. Unfortunately, the best thing I can say about this game is that it's better than the PSP version. MX vs. ATV Reflex for the DS is a below average game. It has some novelty factor, but it won't be your go-to game by any stretch. It's a sloppy game with plenty of flaws that are certain to disappoint even the most forgiving of racing fans.
If you've heard the hype, then you're aware of what is being touted as a revolutionary control system developed for Reflex. The Rider Reflex control system and the Rhythm Racing physics engine allow you to control the rider separately from the vehicle as well as destruct the environment in real-time. With this feature it's possible to tear up the track, leaving ruts and grooves for your opponents to get caught in. Apparently, this destruction to the track is persistent, meaning that it will remain destroyed for the duration of the race. Unfortunately, that feature is not included in the DS game. The Reflex feature is supposed to let you manipulate the rider in an effort to influence the physics of the vehicle. Move the rider forward, backward, or from side to side to gain momentum or improve balance to perform more exciting tricks and stunts. This system affords you more realistic control over your vehicle for cornering and avoiding accidents. Once again, this system is absent from the DS version.
So, what exactly can you expect from the DS version of Reflex? If you don't expect anything more than an arcade racer, then you're not going to be terribly disappointed, but it's difficult to separate the wheat from the hype when you see the TV commercials for this game or other promo that tends to favor what's available for the next-gen consoles. All DS and PSP owners have to expect is an inferior version of a next-gen console game, but to leave out the main features that define this game is misleading and irresponsible. This version should not have the world "Reflex" in the title.
If Reflex were a budget title, it could make a decent stocking stuffer, but there's nothing here that you probably don't already have in an off-road racing game. Presented in 3D, this is not a bad looking game. It displays some nice vehicle models, as well as nicely rendered environments that maintain a steady framerate with no seams or pop-ins and has a good, smooth draw distance. Sure, there isn't much detail to the arenas and environments, but there's no use being fussy at this point as amazing backgrounds are not a deal breaker. What's going to break the deal is the control system, or as I like to call it, the lack-of-control system.
Vehicles include various bikes, ATVs, and even Monster Trucks. The trucks promise the most fun, as they can crush other vehicles and seem to have a general sense of foreboding and resiliency, but they don't respond well to commands. They are difficult to maneuver, especially in tight corners where there is an obvious lag in response. You'll be turning the truck and waiting for the command to kick in. It's like the truck is sliding on ice then eventually regains its grip. The bikes and the ATVs are more responsive, but only slightly. There is an overall lack of finesse with the controls, and that's not because it's arcade-based. Sharp turning and jumps play an important role in this game. Powersliding around turns allows you to float around corners while applying the brake, maintaining maximum acceleration and getting back up to speed when the track straightens out. Jumps not only help you cover more ground more quickly, but they also allow you to perform stunts and tricks which can be lucrative for points that can be used for upgrades.