Fresh off the massive success of Trials Evolution, Ubisoft has attempted to catch some serious air by doubling the amount of tires, ramping up the horsepower, and unleashing massive amounts of turbo boost in their latest release Mad Riders. In the racing world, there are some games that define a genre, for example, games such as Forza 4 provide one of the most realistic experiences behind a wheel to date and games such as Trials Evolution and Trials HD deliver a fantastic experience that will leave you hooked long after the game's release. On the flip side of the racing coin, you have everything else which turns out to just be a pile of horrible racing titles and a waste of your hard earned cash. So you could say that games in the racing genre are much like life, or a real race for that matter where 2nd place is the 1st place loser. Let's grab our helmets and vault into the sky as Ubisoft attempts to take the checkered flag in hopes that Mad Riders delivers a victory.
From the beginning Mad Riders offer crazed race heads a fun and entertaining experience taking their ATV and buggy vehicles through high flying jumps in the blink of an eye. Innovation isn't found in high amounts in Mad Riders, but if you're following a winning formula for making extreme off road racing games, then you don't need to reinvent the wheel. The general mechanics are somewhat standard where you have your steering via the joystick, gas and brake are operated by the Left and Right triggers, and being that this is an arcade style game, boost as well by holding down the X button, however the trick though to properly manage your boost is found in the air born stunts. By performing multiple stunts and landing them, you will be awarded with not only added boost to your gauge, but you will also earn XP for your character.
This is all part of the character development system that Mad Riders implements. As you progress through your game and winning races, challenges, and trials, your character will be awarded XP which accumulates and thus levels your character up, which then in turn will unlock different vehicles, riders, paint schemes, and more. Some of the challenges that lay ahead of you are: Race, Ghost Challenge, Stunt, Arena, and more. Each of these competitions has their own standards for rules and winning those grants your character unlocks for future races.
Mad Riders provides a beautiful backdrop that goes flying past you as you ignite the rocket underneath you, hold on tight, and pray you don't go through the pearly gates on fire and backwards. Lush terrains from varying environments such as a rainforest, or the islands of the pacific become a highly entertaining stage of high speed enjoyment. For the fleeting moments that you do get to enjoy the view, it's absolutely amazing. While the game itself looks gorgeous in a lot of areas, the soundtrack to the game doesn't seem to fit quite right. The music comes across as a hard edged dub step track which loops over and over again and becomes more of an annoyance than an enjoyment. A nice benefit though is that most of the time you will only be hearing the sounds of explosions going off as you seemingly never let off the boost.
Ubisoft has a lot going for Mad Riders, and thankfully it's going in the right direction. After all is said and done, and our vehicles are finally out of gas, we stop to think, "Is Mad Riders a game that will conquer the Xbox Live Arcade and take over the top spot?" Probably not. While the execution is solid, there are a few blemishes that separate it from the leaders of the pack. With that being said, is Mad Riders worth a purchase? If you enjoy racing off road through extreme courses on ATV's or a buggy, then absolutely.