MX vs. ATV Alive

  • Release: May 10, 2011
  • Developer: THQ
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Genre: Racing

Alive? Where's Ethan Hawke? How About Gene Simmons?

MX vs. ATV Alive really wants you to check out its tracks. Just not in a good way.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: June 14, 2011
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When I was first assigned MX vs. ATV Alive I didnít know what to think. I never played any of the previous games so my expectations were pretty low. Itís a budget title ($20 cheaper than the standard Blu-ray release) but then again thatís something that a lot of people will look at as a negative. In fact, while I was at a local video game store (no, not Gamestop) I overheard people speaking about this very same game. Both the employee and the shopper wondered aloud why anyone would look at this game when ATVs and bikes were done bigger and better on Motorstorm: Apocalypse. An interesting theory, especially for me (I got the platinum trophy on Apocalypse shortly before receiving Alive to review), but I now know that the two are far, far different.

Thankfully for MX vs. ATV Alive I donít judge games based on their first impressions. I read beforehand that this is a series that opens up as you progress. After my first two races I literally wondered how anyone could play the game, much less enjoy it. My driver looked stiff and I had zero sense of speed, in fact it almost felt like I was on a moped more than a MX bike. I literally had no clue what I was doing wrong and why I had trouble making the simplest of turns. Every time I made a jump it ended up with me doing a wheelie I didnít want and falling right off the bike.

It was a drastic change to rely so heavily on the right analog stick. While it usually controls your camera in racing games, in Alive it controls your racer himself. The left stick is still how you maneuver and steer, but the right stick impacts how your driver shifts his weight or leans. As you level up things become a bit more fluid, but throughout it still seemed a bit robotic. Every little movement adds up though; as I constantly found my AI opponents blowing past me until I got better at leaning into a turn. Jumps are also crucial for the reasons I stated above, because with an awkward landing your racer wonít get anything except dumped off the back of the bike.

One thing that I welcomed with the series is just how much importance is placed on momentum. Things arenít as simple as staying on the gas, turning, and braking occasionally. I constantly found myself micro-manging my speed on hills, because even the slightest hitch could cost you multiple positions. Then of course, the jumps themselves placed a major emphasis on landing your jumps correctly. If you donít land on the down slope you may as well restart because everyone who does will fly right overhead. The game is punishing in this regard but there are a number of difficulty settings and on the easiest one you can literally press the two sticks in unison all the way through and win. So if you have trouble, just go down to the minors and practice, or if you just want to get past a few races and level up some more, do that too. I can honestly say that the racing itself was a whole lot of fun, even if the learning curve is drastic compared to other racers. Then again, fans of the series will probably have no problem at all.
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