MX vs. ATV: Reflex


posted 12/15/2009 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: PS3
While the ability to recover from a pending crash is important during motocross races for an obvious reason (that being that you would fall way behind the rest of the pack, in case it's not as obvious as I thought), it's also important in the Freestyle competitions.  In Freestyle, you are judged not on your speed or position at the finish line but on style points for the various tricks you do. Tricks are performed using the right analog stick with one of the left trigger buttons held down. It took me awhile to figure out the timing and pace of the required movements (well, actually my daughter had to show me how), but once I did I was impressed by how easy it is. I was trying to time my stick movements to the pace of the trick, but what you actually do is enter the movements as if you were entering a cheat code. With the correct three movements of the stick, the game takes over and performs the trick. There's even a nice, heavy paper Trick Guide included with the game to show all of the available tricks and the correct incantation for each. It would have been nice if it also included the difficulty rating for each trick to better help you design a high-scoring freestyle routine, but that's just nitpicking.

The thing is, though, that once the trick is completed you are fully back in control of your rider. If you entered the trick at a bad angle or with some other motion vector going on, your landing may not be the greatest. A bad landing can detract from the points that you would have received had you made a clean landing. This is again where the Reflex recovery comes in handy: it lets you have at least a chance of recovering from a bad landing and preserving a good score.

The rest of the game is very similar to previous versions in that you have broad categories of races you can participate in, either as part of a career or using the Arcade setting. There are races on traditional indoor and outdoor motocross tracks, the aforementioned freestyle competitions in large arenas, and waypoint races that have you traversing large, open areas of diverse landscape. There are even omnicross races that allow racing against diverse vehicle types, although those can be tricky and dangerous if you select one of the small, more vulnerable vehicles. That's just physics at work; a guy racing a light motocross motorcycle probably ought to be careful about getting run over by a huge Baja truck. The AI can be pretty unpredictable at times, so that avoidance can be more difficult than it sounds.

I enjoyed the racing types that have you riding around in wide open spaces more than I did the indoor track races because the scenery was much better, and because I found it easier to avoid hitting obstructions. That's not to say that I didn't plow into my share of trees, of course, but the absence of hay bails at the side of a narrow track better suited my erratic riding style. I did notice, though, that the constant motion of the camera as I maneuvered through various valleys and tight turns did tend to make me a bit nauseous. I found that the best cure for both erratic steering and view-induced nausea was to shift to the 1st person view and enable the tilt control for steering. That combination did make it much easier to prevent over controlling since tilting the controller offered a wider range of movement than that available with the analog sticks, but it did make harder to judge the correct balance for landing a high trick. It's easy enough to shift views to whatever works best for the riding style you're currently using, though, so it's easy to tailor it to suit your needs.

While Reflex isn't a revolutionary improvement over Untamed, there are enough new evolutionary capabilities to make it worth choosing over Untamed if you are selecting your first MX vs. ATV title. I don't know if there is enough improvement to warrant buying it if you already have the previous version, though.

There's a lot to like in MX vs ATV Reflex, particularly in the realm of controlling the rider. Still, while there is notable improvement over previous versions in some areas, there's nothing truly revolutionary in Reflex.

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