MX vs. ATV Untamed Review
MX vs. ATV Untamed is all about offroad competition. There's no pointless story mode, cutscenes, or even fancy menus. You just get MX and ATV racing (as well as other vehicles such as trucks and buggies) in Endurocross, Free Ride, Freestyle, Minimoto, National, Opencross, Supercross, Supermoto, and Waypoint competitions on stadium and outdoor tracks. Heck, technically there aren't even any load screens as you're free to practice racing, jumps, and stunts on an indoor track as the next race loads in the background. If offroad racing is your thing, then this is a game made just for you.
MX vs. ATV's central mode is its collection of event series. These are grouped into a progression tree so that success in one series will open up one or more higher level series. It will take you some time to unlock all of the series and you can always go back and re-race any of them to relive the experience or try and better your times. You also always have the option of creating and racing in a single event, and the game gives you complete control over the type of race, the track selection, and just about any other race parameter you'd care to adjust. Online races can handle up to twelve players and you can create a race or use the quick matching feature to jump into a race. Online play also includes three mini games, Graffiti, Tag, and Snake (think Tron's lightcycles game played with ATVs). Snake is actually pretty enjoyable and is one of those rare mini games that you'll want to come back to after giving it an initial play or two. I wish you could play it offline against the computer, though, as it is often hard to find other players online to play the mini games. There are plenty of gamers ready to compete in the online races, however.
Now it wouldn't be MX or ATV racing without tricks, and Untamed has a trick system that relies more on the analog stick than it does on the traditional button combos. You preload jumps by pulling back on the left stick and then push it forward just as you hit the top of the hill. Time it right and you can catch some serious air - the first time you do it will erase any doubt in your mind as to whether this is an arcade racer or a sim (yes, it's an arcade racer). Tricks are started by selecting a button and then using the stick to initiate a particular trick. You can then use the stick to add twists and turns in mid-air and put those pesky laws of physics in their place. The trick system is pretty cool and the tricks feel more like, well, tricks instead of canned animation sequences set off by button combos. Yes, it's all fun and games ... until you land. For a game that goes the arcade racing route it is surprising that it is so persnickety about your landings. You'll be hard-pressed to figure out just what constitutes a good landing and landings that look like they should be perfect will sometimes have you eating a nice long trail of dirt instead. Even if you nail the landing you need to be careful. The game has a "chain" timer that allows all stunts that are completed before the timer runs out to be chained together to score more points. However, if you crash before the timer runs out you lose everything. The problem with this is that you can string together some great stunts, nail the landing, and then bump into something on the side of the road a few seconds later and lose all of your points.
The racing in Untamed is enjoyable enough and the implementation of the trick system is pretty cool, but the inconsistent landings really take a bite out of the game's fun factor. The game is loosey goosey with physics when it comes to turning corners, catching air, and pulling off stunts in midair, but unforgiving in some strange and mysterious way when it comes to collisions, whether those collisions are from your vehicle touching down for a landing or from bumping another vehicle or obstacle. Even though there is a lot of racing packed into this game, these inconsistencies will eventually wear you down - the good but not great racing action isn't enough to overcome this issue. If you're interested in the game, I'd recommend renting it for a bit. If you're still just as interested in the game when it comes time to return it as you were when you first started playing it, then it will be safe for you to go out and buy it.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 70%. MX vs. ATV Untamed is a lot like a long race on an oval track - it's fun for a bit but then grows steadily more repetitive.