MX vs. ATV: Untamed Review
In the past, Rainbow Studios has brought us fantastic titles such as the first two ATV Off-Road Fury games, for the PlayStation 2, in addition to the very awesome SplashDown games, and the MotorCross games. Now, Rainbow Studios is working on games like Disney's Cars and the MX vs ATV series. Now, you'd imagine with so much dirt racing in their bloodline, that a great next-generation motorcross game from Rainbow Studios is a shoe-in, right? Well, I wish it was. Unfortunately, Rainbow had very little input for the PlayStation 2 version, and Incinerator Games didn't do the finest job of sculpting an MX vs. ATV game. Shame.
I've always held Rainbow Studios quite high, as they've rarely let me down. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the studio was responsible for some really good racing games, and motorcross titles are in their heritage, dating way back to their PC days. So what are the problems with MX vs. ATV Untamed? Well, for starters, videogames don't get any more generic in execution that this. You'll have a wide variety of events to choose from, such as Free Ride, Supercross, National, Freestyle, Opencross, Supermoto, Endurocross, Waypoint, and Minimoto. Now, despite all of that, none of these modes offer the least bit of depth. I simply didn't find myself having fun with anything this game has to offer.
Even though the game is called MX vs. ATV, you can choose other vehicles, such as a Trophy Truck, Monster Truck, Offroad Buggy, and Sand Rail. Now, I realize this is a PlayStation 2 game, but that doesn't mean developers have an excuse to revert back to using outdated visuals and poor physics engines in their games. What made everything come alive in a game such as MotorStorm was its amazing physics engine - something that this game is sorely missing. Hell, even the original Smuggler's Run had better physics than Untamed.
Everything in the game is so archaic that it's painful. Will your riding deform the road you're on? Nope. Will it affect your next pass on the road? Obviously not. Does this play more like a PlayStation game than anything else? Absolutely. I find it rather amusing that the PlayStation 3 version of this game plays (and even looks) more like a PlayStation 2 game, and the PS2 version plays more like an old PlayStation game.
The trick system isn't the least bit robust, and it feels like no improvements have been made to it. Worst of all, MX vs. ATV doesn't feature the other trait that makes a racing game solid: decent track design. Practically every track here is boring, uninspired, lacking any real craftsmanship and sorely lacking attention to detail. I feel like I've played MX vs. ATV Untamed plenty of times before, simply because of how cookie-cutter everything about it is. In fact, I'd argue that I have played Untamed many times before, seeing as how it feels the same as all of its predecessors.
If you thought that 'well, at least the visuals should be decent', you're wrong. In fact, so wrong that you may want to go curl up in a ball and think about just how wrong you are. If the PlayStation 3 game looks like a PlayStation 2 game, imagine just how poor the actual PS2 version of Untamed is. It may offer progressive scan, but that doesn't change the fact that it has some of the muddiest textures ever brought to life in a PS2 game.
Not only are the textures washed out, but they lack any detail, definition, and, well...texture! They're completely flat. If you play this without progressive scan, your eyes may bleed from the amount of aliasing - the jaggies are all over the screen. The framerate is fine, but considering how low-grade this game is, it damn well better be. And don't even get me started on the player models and vehicle models.
The audio consists of the rudimentary engine noises, none of which that sound remotely pleasing to listen to. You're going to really want to turn down the engine noises within the game's audio, as the exhausts from most of these vehicles are pretty offensive - more so than most Civic owners with fart cans for exhaust tips. There is a soundtrack, one that consists largely of bad punk rock and nu-metal, with the exception of one decent band, Bad Religion. There's also one rap song in the mix, which makes absolutely no sense.
All in all, MX vs. ATV Untamed is not a product you want to spend $40 on. In fact, it's not even a product you'd want to spend money on. The bottom line here is that this is a very poorly done game, that suffers from uninspired gameplay, poor track design, redundancy, and innovation. Furthermore, gamers who enjoy a decent looking title will find that MX vs. ATV Untamed is one of the worst visual offenders out there on the PlayStation 2, as it features an absurd lack of texture detail and a never ending supply of ugly. To top things off, Untamed features a soundtrack that's every bit as irritating as the game's engine and exhaust noises. My suggestion? Save up some money, pick up a PS3 (new or used), find a copy of MotorStorm and enjoy a vastly superior product.
1/29/2008 Arnold Katayev