Now everyone can go off-road!
The MX vs. ATV series is known for its rather simplistic approach to MX and ATV racing. For many years this has been the series’ charm. The MX vs. ATV series featured a very accessible arcade style of control that allowed almost anyone to become an off-road champion. This simplistic control scheme also allowed for some pretty outrageous stunts and moves that would probably be fatal if attempted on a real motocross vehicle. The newest entry in the series, MX vs. ATV: Untamed, furthers this trend of simplistic and accessible racing, and will largely delight fans of motocross racing. However, fans of the series may perceive that this game treads territory that has largely been explored (mainly in previous MX vs. ATV games) before.
Of course, MX vs. ATV: Untamed is not a bad game. On the contrary, it has several good points. The gameplay in MX vs. ATV: Untamed has been expanded and now includes several free-play and tournament modes, as well as all-new tracks, race modes, and mini-games. So there’s definitely a lot here for newcomers as well as veterans to enjoy.
Controls are what you might expect from an automotive-based title. The right trigger is used to accelerate, and the left stick is used to steer. The face buttons are mainly used for tricks and stunts, and the brake is tied to the left trigger. Pretty standard and easy to pick up controls seem to be the hallmark of this series, and this newest entry doesn’t deviate from the formula. The controls are also retain their tight but forgiving nature, and you’ll be able to pull off some pretty fantastic (and unrealistic) moves, but the arcade nature of the game lends itself to this type of gameplay, so you can’t really knock the idealistic nature of the game.
The single player mode in MX vs. ATV Untamed is fairly expansive and includes quick play, custom, X-cross, and event modes. The quick play mode is largely what you would expect and allows players to randomly select a medium and a track and get started. However, because there are a lot of different ways to play, this mode might not be for beginners. I found the best place to start is the custom event mode, which helps you get a feel for all the bikes, ATVs, and trucks, as well as all the different tracks and event types. There are a total of nine different event types available in custom event mode: Free ride, national, supercross, freestyle, opencross, supermod, endurocross, waypoint, and minimod.
Free ride is the best mode for beginners and features one of the few modes of racing that does not focus on speed. Instead the goal is to explore the different tracks to find hidden sprockets. This gives those who are new to the genre, or could use a little dusting up, a chance to get used to the controls and get a feel for the different x-cross vehicles. The next mode is national mode, which challenges the driver to get the best speed. The national tracks are all set outdoors, and aren’t necessarily difficult in a technical sense, as the emphasis here is on speed rather than substance. Another mode that beginners may enjoy is the minimoto mode which is essentially national mode but with MX minis instead of traditional x-cross vehicles. This mode is a little more novelty than substance, but it’s great if you like the smaller vehicles or if you need a break from other modes.
Supercross mode is for the X-cross pro and features very technically challenging tracks while maintaining the previous mode’s emphasis on speed. Another mode that is focused toward the pro sect is freestyle mode. Freestyle mode challenges the driver to get flashy by performing various tricks while driving. Tricks can be performed by pressing special button combinations in conjunction with the L-stick. These tricks must be performed with great attention to track and timing, and you are given extra points when two or more tricks are combined. The hardest mode, however, for veterans of the MX vs. ATV series, or those who think they’ve mastered their skill, has to be the waypoint mode. In this mode, all the boundaries that were marked before are now unmarked. And while this doesn’t sound like it would make gameplay all that difficult, it really does. Without marked boundaries, it is extremely easy to unknowingly jump onto parts of the course that are off limits. And every time you accidentally go off bounds, you’re subject to a three-second countdown and being placed right where you went off course. Add these together with the fact that courses in this mode are already pretty challenging, and you’ve got a mode that is essentially pro-only!
Opencross is a little more forgiving as far as technicalities are concerned, but it ups the ante in regards to environmental hazards. Supermoto is the ultimate vs. x-cross mode because it features not only ATV and MX vehicles, but also buggies, trucks, minimods, and just about every other vehicle that you can imagine. Endurocross is a very interesting mode that is completely new for MX vs. ATV Untamed. It features some very challenging environmental hazards inside an arena setting. This mode has everything from rocks under water to piles of tires to get in your way. Endurocross has to be the most fun mode in the game, simply because of its fantastical obstacles. Everything gets in your way, and you’ll probably never know true frustration until you get halfway up a tire mountain and then find out that you don’t have enough acceleration to get the rest of the way up. But frustration in this game is a good thing because it gets you really immersed in both the game and the sport.
Once you’ve mastered all the different modes you can play in custom mode and quick play, then you can participate in the x-cross tournament or an event series. X-cross tournament presents the player with a series of individual tournaments with increasing difficulty that eventually culminate in a championship race. This mode is pretty linear, but features a pretty good sampling of all the different modes peppered throughout the tournament rounds. The only real issue here is that none of the modes are completely avoidable, so if there’s one mode you’re really terrible at, you may need to brush up on your skills a bit because more than likely you’ll have to pass that event in some shape or form to move on in tournament mode. It should also be noted that tournament mode is rather expansive and takes quite some time to play through.
If you’re wanting a competitive experience, but don’t want to delve into the lengthy x-cross tournament mode, then the event series may be a perfect fit. The event series is made up of several pre-selected events in a certain location that you can compete in for cash and prizes. The prizes are pretty useful, but the cash is somewhat worthless in this game. Although there are plenty of things to buy, like gear and new x-cross vehicles, most of these are relatively cheap, and you’ll get paid buku cash for each event series you participate in. If you do really well at one event, you could make upwards of $100,000- which could quite possibly be enough to buy most everything in the game.
If you feel like you’ve had enough time by yourself playing MX vs. ATV: Untamed, then you may be ready for multiplayer. MX vs. ATV: Untamed features a pretty entertaining split screen mode, as well as an engaging online mode. The split screen mode includes the quickplay and custom modes from the single player mode, as well as several fun mini-game modes that include tag, stunt, and lap domination modes, and a version of snake. (You remember the computer game with the apples? Same idea here, don’t touch the lines) However there are some mini-game clunkers here too, chief among them being the hockey game that essentially turns your vehicles into hockey players and challenges you to make goals. The hockey mode is extremely frustrating because the control is not there, and honestly, x-cross vehicles weren’t made for hockey. Plain and simple.
Online modes are fairly simplistic, which is a good thing. Essentially the online mode consists of what you’ve already seen in the custom mode. You can pick your event, track, and vehicle, and then wait for people to join your match. And the good thing is that up to twelve people can play online, so if it is a crowd you want, then it’s a crowd you’ll get!
As far as visuals go, I think this game hits right above average. The 1080p details really show, especially on some of the outdoor tracks, but I can’t say this game looks as good as this year’s Need for Speed or the upcoming Gran Turismo. But if it’s eye candy you want, you definitely won’t be disappointed by this title. Just don’t expect to be overwhelmed either.
The sound in this game is pretty good, and the soundtrack plays like your local alternative rock station. All the usual suspects are here, including The Used, Reliant K, and My Chemical Romance. The only thing I might have wished more for in terms of the soundtrack would be a little variety. Because while the alternative rock scene might be my personal favorite digs, I know that it’s not for everyone. I think a little hip hop, or maybe even some pop could have benefited the soundtrack greatly. Sound effects are pretty good, and feature some pretty realistic engine sounds from the different vehicles. The sound effects are especially useful when you’re playing in a race with multiple x-cross vehicles, because you can hear the different types of vehicles around you. A pretty cool detail if you ask me.
As you’ve probably noticed, I liked MX vs. ATV: Untamed. However I was not amazingly impressed by it. While all the modes are good when taken on just their own merits, I can’t overlook the fact that this MX vs. ATV release essentially plays like the previous one, which has the curiously similar title of MX vs. ATV: Unleashed. I would definitely recommend this title to those who haven’t had any experience with the series, as it is a great standalone title. But for those with a passion for x-cross who have already experienced MX vs. ATV, this title may not be as unique of an experience as they might want.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Opening scene looks great, but gameplay graphics fall only slightly above average. 4.1 Control
Arcade-controls provide some pretty simple and forgiving controls that allow for some pretty sweet moves, although most seem pretty unrealistic. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music features several good tunes, but it suffers overall from being a little too homogeneous. 3.5 Play Value
There’s several different events to play, and the online modes provide some enduring value, but at the end of the day, this title’s simplicity seems to be its own worst enemy. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.