PS2 REVIEW: MX VS ATV UNLEASHED

MX vs. ATV Unleashed is the consummate arcade racing game. Though it's developed by Rainbow Studios and features many of its innovations from past games such as the Fury and Unleashed series, there is not one game that packs as much entertainment punch into one package as you'll find here.

MX vs. ATV is not a compilation nor is it a "best of." It's a new game that puts bikes and four-wheelers in direction competition. But it's much more than that. There are monster trucks, sand rails, bi-planes and even golf carts to race and destroy. If you get bored with NASCAR sims or powersliding around city environments then this is the game for you.

The sheer number of modes and options is staggering. You can play alone, with a few friends in your living room or against the world online. Modes include Quick Race, Career, Freestyle and both on and offline multi-player modes. The tunes are composed of bone-crushing guitar riffs with a predilection for Cookie Monster-style vocals. It suits the genre much better than any lame hip-hop tracks.

When it comes to comparing and competing, the bikes and the ATV are evenly matched. They both have great acceleration, sharp turning radiuses and the ability to preload a jump and catch some air. One area in which the ATV should have the advantage is in sand. Anyone that's ever ridden a dirt bike on sand knows what I'm talking about - two-wheeled vehicles were not made for sand. The game seems to ignore this fact and doesn't require anymore skills to drive a bike over sand than it would over a solid track.

Beginners and intermediate players will get the most out of this game. The races become more difficult gradually. Getting started takes mere seconds. Most players will be able to handle themselves quite admirably for the first 15 races. If you're looking for more of a challenge you can always increase the difficulty.

I'm not a big monster truck fan and this mode didn't influence that conviction one iota. These vehicles require a different degree of control than I care to exercise. I like the tight and responsive control of the bikes and quads as opposed to the sluggish, top heavy trucks.

Freestyle mode lets you experiment with different vehicles, techniques and riders. There are 24 riders and for the life of me I can't notice any difference. It's not as though there is one super-rider and the rest are duds. These are all professional drivers. When you get into the more difficult races the outcome can be determined, or undermined, by the slightest mistake. That's my or your mistake, not the character that's sitting on your machine. If you're not a skilled player no rider is going to help you. Yes, some of the machines do perform certain tasks better than others. Some have faster acceleration while others may have better stability. However, you will find yourself compensating for the differences naturally. That's the key to good gaming - flexibility. If you play all the different modes and ride all of the vehicles in this game you can't help but cultivate many valuable skills. They may not get you through med school, but they'll get you through having to watch reruns of Survivor with mom, dad and sis.

The game is clean looking without too much superfluous detail. It's better to be less busy than cluttered and Rainbow knows that, especially when designing for the PS2. The graphics could have been significantly upgraded for the Xbox. Technically there is nary a glitch to be had. I can't say this is the best game ever made but as far as the arcade racing genre is concerned it would be difficult to imagine how to improve on it.

Preview by Vaughn

Hands On: Having went a few rounds with the latest build I can at least say that Rainbow Studios is definitely playing it safe. Not to say MX Vs. ATV isn't a good game - it's a great playing game, but it's essentially the same game give or take a few tweaks that Rainbow has been making since ATV Offroad Fury debuted back in 2001. Considering that both MX Unleashed and ATV Offroad have their fan base, it's nice to see them come together for this project.

Pre-Loading the suspension before a jump which was first introduced in ATV Offroad Fury is present and truth be told I enjoy it so much that I can't play any other ATV or MX games properly if they don't feature it. It really is the only way to fly, excuse the pun. The build I received only featured the MX and ATV vehicles but trust me when I tell you that you won't be disappointed with the final roster which includes monster trucks, golf carts, sand rails, baja trucks, dune buggys, helicopters and even bi-planes. Control feels supple and responsive, both characteristics of the attention to detail and physics that Rainbow is known for.

Visually the game is sharp and crisp and looks excellent even on the aging PS2 hardware. MX Vs. ATV doesn't look miles ahead of previous efforts and there is some minor pop in, but on the whole it's an impressive looking title able to feature a lot of onscreen action without suffering.

The sheer amount of modes will keep any racing fan busy for weeks and for those who aren't up to a challenge, the difficulty level can be selected. Online is available for both the PS2 and Xbox, but it wasn't available for me to test. The game is due out next week and we suspect that dirtbike and ATV lovers are waiting with baited breath. Tune in next week when we go at the final review version.

Previous Preview: Fans of the ATV and MX games love speed and insane stunts. Now it looks like Rainbow Studios decided the two would fit into one extreme game.

It may just be something that fans of each series may enjoy. I enjoy playing any game that features MX bikes and I also enjoyed the ATV series. So I think Rainbow and THQ just may have something here if it works as good as it looks. Then again I also want a chance to have fun online and this one also happens to provide that as well.

Now the twist in the game is if it is in the game, it can be raced against or driven. The game will have more insane tasks and challenges for both fans of MX bikes and ATV's. Want to see if you can out run a Bi-Plane? In this one you can see if you have the skills and even a chance to jump over it if you want. Just one of the many insane stunts gamers will have a chance to try.

The game will feature a wide range of extreme toys to play with MX bikes, ATV's and even Monster trucks. Gamers should expect one insane game and get ready to do the impossible. The controls and environments have been adjusted for the ultimate extreme racing experience. Rainbow Studios has had success with the series and now they are bringing the mix to both the PS2 and the Xbox for games. The screen shots are from the PS2 version. Players will get a chance to practice and play the single player mode then go online and see if they can beat their friends. Take a look at the features of this one. The features for the PS2 and the Xbox version are the same.

Press:

Building on their rich history of racing properties, Rainbow Studios has created the ultimate off-road masterpiece in MX vs. ATV Unleashed. Choose from a multitude of rides including ATV's, monster trucks, sand rails and more, and tear through miles of open terrain in the ultimate quest to conquer the off-road. Compete in new racing events, mini-games and massive free world environments featuring hill climbs, machine challenges, gap jumps and short track races.

Features For The PS2 Version:

  • Everything off-road - Motocross bikes, ATV's, sand-rails, monster trucks, bi-planes and even 4X4 golf carts
  • New racing events, mini-games and freestyle challenges - SuperMoto, Short track, Hill climbs, Way point races, Monster Mash, Gap Jumps and more...
  • Groundbreaking MX vs. ATV career mode - MX bikes and ATV's meet on the same track to determine racings best machine
  • Online - Race against 8 players on Xbox Live and PlayStation 2 with live chat
  • Rhythm Racing - Rainbow's breakthrough physics model that allows players to race through unique non-linear environments with exceptional real world animations
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System: Xbox, PS2, PC
Dev: Eidos
Pub: Eidos
Release: May 2005
Players: 1 -16 Online
Review by StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
5.0