MX vs ATV Reflex Review

At a glance

Some worth while control improvements finally adds some innovation to a stagnated series.

Good points

A great new control system – well designed tracks – a decent level of customisation

Bad points

Flat progression – Erratic difficulty due to unforgiving handling physics

If you played mx vs atv untamed , you’ll know that its very much the same game as unleashed was before it. However, reflex is here, and this time it actually feels like a new game. You still have the same selection of off road vehicles that you race on a variety of off road courses, but there is a change to the tried and tested formula in the form of a new control system. That may not sound like much, but the dual stick  control system really changes the gameplay for the better.

The key to getting good at previous MX games, was to learn the lines and jumps of the courses, maintaining a decent average speed. This is still true of the latest game, but this time bike and rider are not simply one entity – you now have the power to manipulate both.  So how does this work?

The left stick controls the bike and the right stick controls the rider, allowing you to shift your weight.  Its used for fine tuned cornering, control over bumps and pre-loading for jumps.  It sounds complicated, and at first it can be, but once you start getting the hang of it, it becomes very rewarding and pretty much second nature.  You feel much more involved, as you have to simultaneously focus on the bike, track and rider, shifting your weight to meet the demands of the track. Part of this new “reflex” control system also includes a much needed stack avoidance feature.  Landing a jump badly won’t automatically throw you from your bike as it did in previous games. This time around, an on screen prompt comes up telling you to move the rider control stick in a set direction. Nail this fast enough and your rider will regain control. Take too long and they’ll fall from their bike.  The result is that you should find yourself eating dirt less than in previous games.

Fast reflexes can give you a second chance this time around

Unfortunately the new control system isn’t enough to totally overcome the brutal and somewhat inconsistent physics employed by the game.  Despite feeling overly light and floaty, larger vehicles fair better, but MX bikes are often erratically thrown off course by the slightest of unseen bumps.  The issue is less evident in the free flowing outdoor nationals events, but the tight, technical courses found in supercross only serve to compound the issue.  The results can lead to extremely frustrating gameplay as you’re helplessly thrown about and struggle for control.  One saving grace is that the AI fairs just as badly in these events.  Comical value aside, it does somewhat detract from the feeling of professional motocross as you witness the chaos of bikes flying off the course in all directions.

The graphics have had an overhaul since the previous game. It still might not be the best looking game from a technical perspective, but the environments are rich and the outside tracks stretch for miles.  As for the sound, its of a fair standard.  It never really does anything to impress, but all the expected sound effects are present and the hardcore rock soundtrack is fitting to general attitude of the gameplay.  You’re given the option to balance sound effects and music levels to your own tastes, should you find either to be overpowering.  Its worth making note of the new destructible track feature. As you ride a track, it will realistically get torn up under your bike, atv or buggy.  Although It doesn’t make a massive difference to gameplay, it looks great and slightly alters the track as you race on it.  Each subsequent lap will have you looking out for particularly rutted area’s as they are dynamically created by you and your fellow racers.

Rutting;  Reflex style

As with all MX games, you’re given a variety of tracks and vehicles, however the overall number seems to be a little reduced from previous entries.  You have various classes of MX bikes, quad bikes, buggies and trucks, each of which handles differently and can also be customised.  Various parts of the vehicles can be swapped out, giving performance and cosmetic enhancements.  You also have the option to customise your riders gear.

The main single player career is a mix of off road event types.  Some of which are restricted to a certain vehicle class and some of which are mixed class events, letting bikes, quads, buggies and trucks all face off together.  Nationals is circuit MX racing, taking place on impressive, well designed outside courses with varied settings and terrain types.  Supercross is the same but takes place on tight, technical indoor arena tracks.  Free style trick events make a come back and benefit from the games improved control system. Its an entertaining diversion from the race events, however the scoring system seems a little broken.  I was able to breeze through every one of the trick events even on the occasions where I barely landed any tricks successfully.  Omnicross and waypoint are mixed class events.  Onmicross takes place on sprawling cross country circuits, where as waypoint has you racing between markers with no defined route. The biggest issue with these event types is that they can be very unbalanced, with mx and quad bikes being at a clear disadvantage to trucks and buggies, that don’t face the possibility of being knocked off.  The trucks and buggies also have their own dedicated events.  These are outdoors closed circuit events on courses that are generally flatter and faster than the other courses in the game.

Fast n Furious and … oddly floaty

Multiplayer comes in the form of either local splitscreen or online for 2-12 players.  Along with all the above race types, you have two extra mini games, tag and snake.  Tag is, well…vehicle based tag – but to win you need to be “it” for longer than your opponents.  Snake is a tron like game that has you trying to wipe out opponents with a glowing tail that follows your rider, whilst simultaneously trying to avoid their tails.  Both are fairly simple concepts that are actually great fun to play.

Overall MX vs ATV Reflex is an improvement to the series and still one of the most faithful representations of the sport.  The issues found within the game are forgiveable and can generally be overcome with a little patience.  For fans of motocross the game is well worth a look, but gamers simply looking for off road racing in general may want to weight up their options first.

7.5 GOOD