MX vs. ATV Untamed

February 8, 2008

Trying to capitalize on vehicles that you wouldn’t normally play in a racing game, MX vs. ATV: Untamed takes dirt bikes, ATVs, and Monster Trucks and pits them against each other to create an arcade racer that strives to be more.

The game’s biggest perk is the sheer amount of vehicles and play modes available. ATVs handle differently than dune buggies and indoor arena tracks are a world apart from the outdoor rally. Perks end there, though. The game quickly devolves into an average experience as the thrill of taking a jump leads to the inevitable crashing down to earth because you didn’t hit the lip of the ramp correctly. Moreover, the developers attempted to walk a specific line with physics and controls that lands somewhere between technical simulation racing and arcade; what they end up with is an unbalanced feel to the game. They should have chosen physics or arcade only, and stuck with it.

You can tell the developers were trying to get the best of both worlds and they mostly succeed with a lot of quick action and forgiving turns that make the game easy to pick up but occasionally the developers threw in some technical details that may frustrate players on both ends of the spectrums. Jumps are especially tricky and unforgiving; if you have any momentum approaching a ramp you need to steer the analog control before and during the actual jump to land correctly, or suffer the ensuing crash. Add to that the random hazards such as water or snow on the course and winning a race is really a tricky endeavor. Ultimately, the gameplay proves to be too weak for the hardcore racer looking for Motorstorm action and too frustrating for the casual gamer looking for a beefed up Mario Kart.

The PSP version of the game doesn’t fare so well in the graphics department. Overly blocky riders and terrain are missing that crucial level of detail the PSP has always been known for. Not that it looks horrible; it just doesn’t fully utilize the graphic capability of the system. The PSP also has the option of linking up to 4 systems for multiplayer games, and while this is a nice notion, it doesn’t add much to the overall gameplay.

If you are looking for a no-brainer racer that gives you fast action and even faster crashes you have come to the right place. If you are looking for a technical racer and tricks then you might find some of that here, but probably not in the form you are going to enjoy.

Score: 3/5

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