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. In a world where a game like MotorStorm exists, MX vs. ATV Untamed is absolutely generic. 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, simply because there's a game that does it all much better.
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, what made everything come alive in MotorStorm was its amazing physics engine - something that this game is sorely missing. Will your riding deform the road you're on? Nope. Will it affect your next pass on the road? Obviously not. Are physics calculations the least bit decent? They're average, at best. Does this play more like a PlayStation 2 game than anything else? Absolutely. And herein lies the problem. I don't know what's going on here, but MX vs. ATV Untamed is not a proper next-generation title and that becomes extremely apparent the first minute you spend playing the 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 made MotorStorm so 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. Then there's the online interface, which is just as generic as the rest of the game. You can invite buddies for a game, but you can't do much else. You can create your own game, but the game will randomly assign you into a room, so there's no selection to speak of. And based on how long it takes the game to find a match, the online community here is practically non-existent. MotorStorm this is not. MX vs. ATV Untamed falls in nearly every gameplay category.
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. To reiterate what I said earlier, MX vs. ATV Untamed is not a next-generation title. At best, this is a PlayStation 2 game with slightly better visuals. You know what's pathetic? After playing the PlayStation 3 game, I popped in the PS2 version of Untamed and didn't find myself revolted by a stark visual difference - because there simply isn't one. Where as I couldn't stand to look at a PS2 game like Need for Speed ProStreet or NBA 2K8, after playing their respective PS3 counterparts, Untamed on PS2 didn't offend my senses simply because of how low its PS3 counterpart sets the bar.
I may go as far as to say that this could very well be the ugliest looking PlayStation 3 game to date. First of all, the textures are horrendously washed out. When a race had began, I genuinely thought that the PlayStation 3 was still loading the textures (sort of like Unreal Tournament III), and that they'll pop-up before the race begins. And so I waited, and waited...to no avail. My jaw simply dropped, and all I could say to myself was "you have got to be kidding me." Not only are the textures washed out, but they lack any detail, definition, and, well...texture! They're completely flat. Then there's the aliasing, it's all over the entire screen. Nothing was spared from being covered with jaggies - this game is just an awful mess. The framerate is fine, but the screen tears far too frequently. Why? Why is such a poor looking game suffering from performance problems? There is nothing remotely good or complicated about the visuals, this should be running in 1080p at 60 frames per second, not 720p at 30 frames with tons of screen tearing. And don't even get me started on the player models and vehicle models. MX vs. ATV is ugly, ugly, ugly. This is not why people are buying $300-400 high-definition videogame consoles for.
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 $60 on. In fact, it's not even a product you'd want to spend $20 on. The bottom line here is that this is a very poorly done game, that suffers from uninspired gameplay, poor track design, redundancy, and a lacking online component. And to those who are looking to make good use out of their HD products, such as their game console and TV-sets, MX vs. ATV Untamed is just about the worst visual offender out there on the PlayStation 3, as it features an absurd lack of texture detail and a never ending supply of jaggies. To top things off, Untamed features a soundtrack that's every bit as irritating as the game's engine and exhaust noises. Go find a copy of MotorStorm and enjoy a vastly superior product that looks like a next-gen and plays like one.
12/31/2007 Arnold Katayev