MX Vs ATV: Alive review
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The latest release from this motocross giant is alive - but far from kicking...
The latest installment of the number one selling off-road videogame franchise has come back with a cheaper price tag and more downloadable content than ever before. However, the use of the word ‘Alive’ usually implies excitement or, at the very least, a fresh approach towards an aging idea; but this this release leaves you feeling slightly disappointed by the lack of change it has to its predecessors. The reduced price is a pleasing addition but, with this game feeling more like an expansion pack than a brand new game, does it in fact represent a rather over-zealously priced add-on?
The idea of the game is simple, in that you have to win races to unlock new tracks and new vehicles. You can drive numerous quad bikes and dirt bikes, and the tracks vary from dirt to ice. Furthermore, there are some impressive courses in which to throw your bike around - while the list of competitors is both numerous and competitive - so on the surface, this seems like a nice addition.
Now, the problem for all sports games is to create a career mode that is both challenging and infectious, whilst establishing a balance of realism and emotion with which to entice the player in. Unfortunately, Alive's career mode is extremely limited and there is little - if any - real story within the game; it feels as if the makers have been unwilling to experiment with a stale franchise. The success of the most recent Fight Night (Champion) was - in parts - down to the Hollywood movie-styled career mode, a variation of the norm so to speak. Within the career, the protagonist (you) faced a numerous amount of challenges from imprisonment to bare knuckled fighting; and we loved every second of it. However MX vs ATV: Alive lacks any emotion and as such boredom sets in very quickly.
One of the games few success stories is that, unlike most racing games on this generation of consoles, you still can do split screen and challenge your mates to a fast paced physical race. The result? A feeling as sweet as watching Lewis Hamilton overtake Fernando Alonso in front of his Spanish followers.
Another issue is the need for continuation across an online variant. Many games are unable to live up to their hype once online, but MX vs ATV: Alive is fitted perfectly for an online transition, with an online mode as good as Ricky Carmichael’s motocross legacy. Allowing you to battle it out with people from all over the world - with a large choice of venues and racers to complement - Alive online option is the most addictive mode of the game; but I'm unsure as to whether this is a success or merely the result of the game's overall failings?
At present, there is day to day talk of the rumoured Playstation 4, with some even suggesting that the console could debut as soon as this years E3. Further to their silence, Sony threw a spanner in the works when they stated that current games weren't even using half the power of this mighty console. However, if the likes of Gran Turismo and Uncharted are only using half the power, then MX vs ATV Alive is barely using a quarter of it; the graphics could be confused with a Playstation 2 game as it once again fails to deliver. At some points we see potential for a good-looking game - and some of the vehicles are sexier than Cheryl Cole's album cover - but, on a general level, this game falls short.
The lifespan of MX vs ATV: Alive is not exactly up to Grand Theft Auto's standard, but its important to consider the limitations presented from its minimal price and motocross genre (a sport that has a somewhat limited appeal). It's one of those games that, in theory, you cannot complete; but that's not to say that after a few races your eyelids won't begin to feel heavy, or your boredom level will hit an unbearable level. For a serious motocross fan the life-span will be longer, but as a casual gamer it just doesn’t have the same appeal.
The handling on the latest installment is unusually easier than previous games, as MX v ATV: Alive has gone for a different approach which we are told will help gamers maneuver round the tracks in an easier fashion. Yet this change raises both good and bad points. For one, the changes make the game easier to play, which should ultimately appeal to a larger audience. Another positive is that this alteration means you can start playing straightaway, launching yourself headfirst in to the game without having to bother with any tutorials or introductions.
The major negative of the game is that, despite further widening its appeal, the simplicity means it's now almost too easy to pick up; you don’t have to practice or use any real amount of skill to get to a high standard. Games now aren’t meant to be as simple as Pong, and through our purchase we expect to develop over time...it's part of the learning process that keeps us coming back time after time.
Every game has its moments that annoy you more than Jedward, Kerry Katona or Jordan, and MX vs ATV: Alive is no exception. For me, it's when you are winning a race and then suddenly, one solid advertisement block gets in your way and you end up wasting a large portion of your time - and your lead - tying to figure out how to get out of this current predicament. Yet the salt in the wound comes from your otherwise idiotic competition. While you can spend a good minute trying to get round an obstruction, your nearest competitor is able to ride straight off a mountain yet return to the course quicker than Roadrunner on steroids.
MX vs ATV: Alive is an extremely average game with a good price. You get the feeling that this game is just very limited; and what's worse is the lack of any real emotional involvement throughout the single player campaign. Fight Night's Hollywood inspired game mode showed that even sports games can generate a truly authentic and captivating storymode, yet MX vs ATV: Alive has failed to give us that competitive feeling.
However, to write this title off entirely would be a bit harsh. Hands down, this is the best motocross game out there - at the moment - and its price is as refreshing as shoving a hundred minty Tic Tacs down your throat (I wouldn't recommend doing that). It’s fun, albeit quite short lived, and even though it won't be racing in to the hearts of all game lovers, it will still have you fist pumping when you cross the finish line to a waving checkered flag. Alive...but not kicking.
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