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PSP  header logo

MX vs ATV Untamed

For: PSP   Also on: DS, Mobile

Riding dirty

Product: MX vs ATV Untamed | Developer: Tantalus | Publisher: THQ | Format: PSP | Genre: Racing, Sports | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
 
MX vs ATV Untamed PSP, thumbnail 1
There are two kinds of motocross rider: one who loves catching air and mucking about in soil; the other soils themselves at the thought of straddling a bike as it hurtles dozens of meters through the atmosphere. The latter will find more to love in MX vs ATV Untamed - its domesticated style of motocross lets you ride without either risk of getting dirty.

At the centre of it all is the single player X-Cross Tour mode, which brings an octet of events to the table - basic races, Way Point races, Time Attack, Stunt Challenge, Flag Challenge, Stunt Attack, Machine Challenge, and Machine Race. Of the bunch, basic races and Time Attack runs are by far the easiest. You'll get the most out of Stunt Attack and Flag Challenge events though, as well as the two Machine modes which are used to unlock new playable vehicles.

Stunt Attack tasks you with simultaneously jumping through floating gates and performing a trick while under a time limit. Landing a trick isn't so much a problem as figuring out how to gain enough air to get through every gate. In some of the later levels, the gates have been placed in such a way that makes jumping through them a serious challenge. Hand-in-hand with the challenge it provides, Stunt Attack can be frustrating due to its trial-and-error nature too.

The Flag Challenges are straight-up dastardly experience. Seemingly simple, these runs have you tracking down flags strewn about the locale. The mini-map pinpoints every flag, so in theory it ought to be easy to zip about picking them up. On the contrary, flag challenges possess strict time limits that make grabbing every flag a tall order.

Still the goal of completing events is that you're rewarded with new racing gear - namely additional outfits for your rider and paint jobs for vehicles. The only means of acquiring new vehicles is tackling the Machine events, which when won open up all-terrain vehicles and motocross bikes. Special vehicles, including an off-road buggy, monster truck, snowmobile, and even a golf cart, have specific conditions that have to be met outside of the Machine modes in order to be played. But when you gain one, plowing through snowbanks with the snowmobile proves great fun.

Indeed, unlocking new vehicles is a treat since the game's massive open-world levels provide a veritable playground. Events can always be selected from the start menu, although you can freely explore each environment and enter events at will by driving up to designated markers. The levels are absolutely gigantic and filled with loads of interesting little features. Untamed isn't the greatest-looking game, so the sheer size of its half-dozen environments makes up for this and certainly distinguishes it from other racing games.

One of the biggest letdowns though is multiplayer, which only offers local ad-hoc wireless races. Not supporting some form of online racing or at a minimum downloadable ghost data is a mistake. Last year's ATV Offroad Fury Pro not only provided online play, but went as far as supporting cross-platform racing with its PlayStation 2 counterpart. Why then, does Untamed skimp on what should be a mandatory feature for any contemporary racing game?

At least what it does offer engenders quality. Six different game modes are supported including three exclusive to multiplayer - Stunt Race, Golden Helmet, and Own The Track. Standard races, Stunt Challenge, and Flag Challenge round out the list of events playable with up to three others riders.

The exclusive modes are naturally the most interesting and incidentally the most competitive of the bunch. Golden Helmet, for instance, has everyone racing to hold onto said helmet for as long as possible. Pulling off a trick while holding the helmet gives you a bonus, but you must avoid being hit by the other players otherwise they'll knock the helmet loose. Stunt Race isn't all that different from the single player Stunt Attack event, although own the track puts a unique twist on things. Like Stunt Race, each player hops through hoops attempting tricks; however, the first person to clear a gate with a successful trick captures it. The winner is whoever possesses the most gates.

Inventive modes help soften the blow of not including infrastructure play, but the sting's still there. MX vs ATV Untamed would have benefited greatly from packing in online racing and its exclusion limits the overall value of the game.

Between the lengthy X-Cross Tour and ad-hoc multiplayer, there's a good deal of game though. Omitting online play is without a doubt the game's greatest flaw, joined by a few minor quibbles with event difficulty in the single player mode. How hungry you are for a mud pie will determine your toleration of its shortcomings. So for what it's worth Untamed isn't a bad game, but there's a good chance you can get your dirty fix from a better, prettier game.
 
MX vs ATV Untamed
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 3 January 2008
A lack of online play and other minor shortcomings sully MX vs ATV Untamed, although the experience still manages to rev up some excitement
 
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