Published on April 17th, 2013 | by Scot Mackay8
Review: Motocross Madness
With Motocross Madness being recently released on XBLA for the mid-ranged price of 800 Microsoft points, it was time to find out if there was enough Madness for your money.
I kicked my bike into gear by getting stuck into the single player campaign which sees you tearing through the sands of Egypt, navigating the dusty tracks of Australia and swerving down the aisles of your local Iceland avoiding collisions with Kerry Katona. With multiple routes through each of the tracks, navigation becomes a thing of the past within the first few moments. There is a map in the lower left hand corner of the screen but by the time you have glanced at it, your rider will have found a cliff to bury his face in, so my method was to have several attempts at each track and to memorise the routes, think of me as a Scottish version of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.
Each race sets you against 7 other computer controlled riders, each with their own unique style. From the beginning, I found them to be a slight hindrance but after a while as I gradually got into the groove, I managed to start pulling away and many times finishing a race about half a lap ahead of them. So there may be difficulty setting issues, but there are plenty of on track challenges to keep your attention.
Within each of the tracks there are gold coins which can boost the amount of money you win at the end of each race. These rather large coins are usually positioned near jumps and more importantly near shortcuts which can make the difference between 8th and 1st place. There is also Boost icon’s for collecting which allow you to gain a certain amount of boost which helps if you are lagging behind or if you really want to make the big air jumps to attempt your tricks.
With fairly simple controls to learn, you will master everything you need to know within minutes. From pulling wheelies on your bike, drifting round corners at break neck speeds around mountain top routes and most importantly busting out some insane tricks. All of which add to your boost level and score. A simple combination of buttons and directions allow you to do some gravity defying tricks for big points but do be warned, hold the trick on too long and you will be eating dirt with the rest of the pack flying past.
A nice touch that has been added to Motocross Madness is the use of your Xbox Live avatar, which is always nice to see as they don’t get out and about as much as they should. With the addition of the Avatar Famestar system, it allows you to add to your reputation through games that support the Famestar system. A word of warning though, if you are getting your butt whooped by someone dressed as Bane, stay clear because I have played plenty of Road Rash in my time and I play dirty.
The visuals of each track are vibrant and very fresh looking with a strong colour palette allowing the game to look stylised but not overly cartoon-ish. There are plenty of background effects taking place ranging from an amusement park with active rides, sail boats that are up to volcanoes erupting and creating lava obstacles purely to distract you and cause you to wipe out.
There are also some beautiful animations used in the movement of your avatar as you fail to land a jump perfectly or even as you tear of the start line. Its the little attention to such details that make the game more enjoyable and in a strange way…believable.
With each victory, you gain cash which goes towards buying upgrades for your current bike or purchasing a new bike that offers better performance. You also gain XP which progresses your rider to new heights of fame, popularity and most importantly unlocks new events and tracks.
Moving into multi-player territory brings with it a new set of challenges. First off, we have the addition of the Bike Club which places any of your friends into what is effectively a gang to help complete larger objectives and attain greatness. Now I’m not talking about the hells angels here but it does help having your friends push you to hit the higher ranking achievements. Another little addition which will have you pulling your hair out in a frenzy is the Rivals tasks. Rivals pits you against the ghosts of players holding the highest ranking or the quickest times for each track, if you thought Trials HD was competitive, wait till you get a load of this… I guarantee you that you will be hitting the restart button more times than you would like to admit.
Now so far, I have been praising Motocross Madness for its engaging style and whispering sweet nothings in your ear about the addictive gameplay but the purpose of this review and indeed, the HXR website is to offer our completely honest and unbiased opinion, so here is the downside to what I consider a fun and interesting game.
With any racing game there is one technique that is absolutely essential to the gameplay, something so small and simple yet without it the game can fall apart. Any guesses? …..Let me tell you… It is the simple ability to turn left or right. I have found many times through the course of playing that when a corner appears I have the simple choice of cutting the corner as best I can or simply “Pin-balling” around the outside edge. Now I’m not saying there is a total lack of control but if my thumb is pushing down so hard on my analogue stick almost to the breaking point, then there must be some handling issues.
Another thing that lets down Motocross Madness is the random collision detection, one minute I’m riding through the desert when all of a sudden, I’m attacked by a rouge sand particle that sends my avatar into an Olympic long jumping event. Then at other times smashing into large boulders but simply bouncing around with no hope of regaining control. This can be a major pain in the gluteus maximus, especially if your attempting to set the perfect lap time or on a winning run.
And the final let down is the fact that there are only 9 tracks that are repeatedly used for the various challenges which leads me to believe that DLC will become a major money stealer, this lowers my opinion of the game slightly as with any XBLA game, replay is the most important key element and without much in the way of random events in Motocross Madness, I can see the game becoming stale after a few weeks.
A visually attractive game that can get the competitive juices flowing for a fair price, Motocross Madness offers you a soft core version of titles such as Pure or Mud. With the use of the ever smiling faces of your Xbox avatar it is easy to see that the game will appeal to a younger audience but with the competitive element bringing up the rear, its easy to see that some of the older generation will enjoy it too. With the inevetible release of future DLC this game could be kept fresh and interesting for a long time to come.
Summary: A nice little bundle of fun with nicely added social play. Perfect as time filler between some of the major titles recently released but the short single player can leave people demanding more for their money.