|System: PS3, X360, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rainbow Studios||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.2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When it comes to motorsports, it doesn't get much more exciting than outdoor motocross. Off-road tracks, brutal conditions, and, of course, diverse vehicles make motocross a thrilling sport. Motocross is also one of the best sports to experience through a video game. The MX vs ATV series has been around for several years now, and if you have any interest in the world of motorsports, then you have probably heard of this acclaimed series.
However, since 2007's MX vs ATV Unleashed was so well received, it is hard to imagine where the series could have gone from there. With plenty of vehicles, events, and multiplayer modes, it looked like Unleashed was going to represent the apex of the series. What else could developers Rainbow Studios possibly do with the series? Well, it turns out they had an ace up their sleeve. This year's MX vs ATV entry, Reflex, implements one new element that is executed so well that it changes the entire experience: new control.
While driving mechanics in previous MX vs ATV titles worked well enough and certainly got the job done, none of them really had a lot of precision to them. Using the left stick, you could point your driver in any direction, and as long as it wasn't a terribly dramatic stretch, the driver would just glide along. However, in MX vs ATV reflex you'll have to do a lot more than just steer the vehicle. A new Reflex system has been implemented to allow you to have complete control over your rider's body weight during the competition. This mechanic is tied to the right control stick, and has some pretty awesome implications.
For instance, if you are zooming along on the inside of the track, but there is a wide turn coming up on the far left, you can turn the vehicle all the way to the left as well as shift your body weight in the same direction to make an extremely speedy "whip" maneuver which will take you through the turn at a near-90 degree angle. Your movements must be precise and your timing on-point, but pulling off moves that use your weight as an advantage is very satisfying and is the easiest way to get ahead in the game's many events.
However, even the best may make a wrong move from time to time. To help ease this issue, Reflex has included a recovery system that lets you know when you are close to losing control, and will show you how to shift your vehicle appropriately to compensate for your error in driving. Of course, you won't always be able to use this mechanic, as there is nothing that can save someone trying to perform a jump while shifting their weight to one side (and performing a sad sort of barrel roll). But, this system is great for accidental overshots or common minor driving mistakes.
The new control scheme is really a delight, making the game experience as great as it is. And It is a good thing that it does, because content-wise MX vs ATV is on par with its predecessor. The career mode is jam-packed full of events for bikes, ATVs, buggies, and even light trucks. These events range from straight up tournaments to freestyle competitions where you can ride around and select events from the environment (sort of like an off-road Burnout Paradise). While the smaller vehicle events benefit greatly from the new control, providing a new type of experience, the light truck categories feel a little stale, and I have to say that I found myself avoiding these categories altogether in favor of the razor-sharp simulation feel of the bike and ATV courses.