MX vs. ATV Reflex Review (Xbox 360)
Ever since I heard about what that word Reflex actually meant in the title of this game, I have been anticipating it like a kid waiting for Santa Claus to hop down my chimney. For those of you who don’t know, the Reflex in MX vs. ATV Reflex refers to the controls of the game. This year you don’t get to just control your bike like in past MX vs. ATV games, you control your rider as well.
The first thing you will do when you boot the game up is create your motocard. All it is your name and number, which you can change at any time during your progress. You will start off with an MX Lite bike and one of three choices of gear, all of which can be upgraded.
The gameplay in MX vs. ATV Reflex is quite fantastic. The controls are, some may say, revolutionary. They allow gamers to shift their rider’s weight in any direction. The most noticeable areas where the new controls are useful come into play during sharp turns and when hitting a jump. For example, by shifting your rider’s weight to the back of the bike, you will gain more air, which almost always allows you to make a smooth landing and transition to the next part of the track.
There are four difficulties in the game, and they actually mean something. The rider AI is very good and only gets better as the difficulty is increased. One issue I have with the AI riders is occasionally I will see them forget to turn, which tends to cause a crash. Thankfully, this does not happen all that often.
Overall, the gameplay is certainly better than in previous versions, but certain issues stand out as well.
Crashing was the most annoying issue I ran into while playing the game -- and before I start getting hit with the noob comments, listen up. You can run the perfect race, be in first place and have about a six second lead on the closest AI opponent. Nevertheless, the AI will eventually catch up to you, and if the AI rider causes you to crash, consider it game over. You will fall behind into the crowd of other riders, and they will consistently knock you off your bike by landing on your head, shoulders, knees, and yes, even your toes. I know crashes happen on the track -- they always do -- but when they are constantly happening to you, you will get frustrated and want to restart.
One more thing as it relates to the controls in the game. It will take you awhile to get used to using both sticks (left-bike, right-rider), but once you do, it will be easy to glide through the tracks. However, some things may surprise you. Once in awhile you will hit a jump and not land smoothly in transition, thus throwing off your rhythm. Once that rhythm is off, it will take you a few seconds to get it back. This will lead to issues because, as you are hitting bump after bump, you will go from first to eighth in a matter of seconds.
The graphics are amazing in the game. The detail given to all the rides and riders is remarkable. (My personal favorite is the wind in the rider’s jersey. It will make you refuse to wear a chest protector just so you can watch it.)
The scenery is also amazing. Each track looks impressive in its own right. The only knock I would throw out there is the crowd. Occasionally, you will catch a little glimpse of the crowd -- at that moment it looks more like a bunch of cardboard cutouts.
The sound is decent, at least when it comes to the sound of the separate vehicles. You can easily tell the difference between MX Lite and MX, which is a plus. On the negative side of things, the crashes do seem a little out of sync. By that I mean sometimes the crash sounds will be much louder than needed, and even once in a while there will be no sound at all after a crash.
The music fit’s the game perfectly. It gives you a fair share between rock, punk and metal. If the right song is on, it will pump you up giving you that extra motivation to beat Ricky Carmichael himself. Yes Ricky is in the game, along with a few other motocross stars.
MX vs. ATV Reflex does not give you many options when it comes to game modes. Arcade and Motocareer are essentially the same thing -- Arcade is just an exhibition mode.
Motocareer is where you take your rider to the top. You will ride your way through the ranks on your way to becoming a champion.
Essentially, the is no depth whatsoever when it comes to the Motocareer. You have multiple series of waypoint, free ride, national, omni cross, freestyle and super cross races to complete, three of each to be exact. It ends up being a time-consuming career, but it will feel like the same race with better riders the further you advance in it.
You can choose a MX Lite bike, MX, ATV, UTV, Sport (1 and 2) Truck and sport buggy. I feel like the trucks, UTV and buggy were added just to be in there. I say that because the controls for these vehicles are way too stale, and they remind me of gaming on yesteryear's consoles. The bikes and ATVs is where all the fun is at. Of course you can upgrade your vehicles with your earnings throughout your career.
Once you choose your ride, you can also choose your gear. You can buy the suit, helmet, goggles, boots, neck brace and chest protector that you have always wanted. Each selection will probably have alternate colors to choose from as well, so you can match your digs with your ride.
Online play is not that bad, in fact it is actually pretty fun -- if you can actually find a game. I find it near impossible to actually find a game to play online. I sit in the lobby (which is a free ride) for 15 minutes until I find a match. It may simply be that this game is not too popular yet, or the servers could be poor like they are in many other games. Either way, waiting in the lobby is actually fun. You get to free ride around with the other players waiting until the match starts. It just takes so long that I eventually want to quit and go back to my career.
Once you get into the actual online play, the lag is non-existent. You will have your glitches here and there, but for the most part action stays intact rather well. However, there is some lag when running into other riders, so I would recommend getting the quick jump and beating everyone around the first turn, or it will be a long race of bumps and bruises. Once your race is over, you will be sent back to the lobby to free ride again. There you will wait some more before getting into another match.
Theavailable races and modes online are the same as in Motocareer, but there is also a mini-game mode where you can play games called Tag and Snake. Tag is exactly what it sounds like. You ride around tagging people, and whoever is it for the longest wins the game. Snake on the other hand is very fun. Just like the Tron, you run around with a stream behind you and try to cause other riders to run into it.
MX vs. ATV Reflex, although fun, lacks the depth to keep my attention for a long period of time. The selling point is the controls -- they are amazing. Once you get used to them and have them down cold, you will not lose too often. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys racing games, but I would hold off on the actual purchase unless you’re an avid fan of the series.
On The Track: Controls are awesome, but crashes happen a little too often.
Graphics: The amount of graphical detail in this game is some of the better stuff I have seen on the Xbox 360.
Sound Design: Solid. Great music along with great sound effects. Sometimes the sound effects are out of sync, but that does not happen too often.
Entertainment Value: For awhile it will have you hooked, but a lack of depth will have you shelving it within a week or two.
Learning Curve: The learning curve is pretty steep. Yes, it is just a racing game, so the rules are simple -- come in first. But you won’t be a champion until you have mastered the controls, which will take a while.
Online: With the exception of the long waiting times, the online play is fun. The mini-games will have you addicted for hours.
Score: 7.5 (Good)