STAFF REVIEW of MX vs. ATV: Reflex (Xbox 360)

Friday, November 20, 2009.
by Stephen Cameron

MX vs. ATV: Reflex Box art If you?ve been coming to for while, it has become obvious that I am a Motocross game nut. I?ve played them all. Why? Because I rode in the past, and completely love the sport.

THQ and Rainbow Studios have been pioneers and trailblazers in this gaming niche, but over the past few years they really didn?t innovate anything new with the technology all that much. Let me tell you my friends?that?s all changed now.

When I first heard of the ?reflex? control system, I couldn?t help but to think??How are the controls really going to be?? And also asked myself, will the game franchise lose its fun factor that it always had? These were crucial questions that needed to be answered. It would either make me jump right in, or make me run for the hills.

Then the day came where I got my hands on the game, and to be perfectly honest, at first I didn?t adapt terribly well to the new control system, I sucked. I literally had to break out of my comfort zone that I had built over the years. I was pretty darn good with the old control system, and I now sucked at the new way. My ego was taking one hell of a shot.

I have to admit, it?s a pretty ballzy move on THQ/Rainbow Studios? part to completely overhaul their tried and true control system, with this one. It?s a completely new direction for the franchise. While I was playing on live I had all the people messaging me asking, ?Kam, how does it control?? ?Do you like it??

I proudly answered ?Yes, it?s better, and hell it?s a lot better than the old way.? But, I?m hoping the old motocross game loving community will give it a chance. Because it does take getting used to, and in contrast I?ve seen people that have never played a single motocross title, be good at the game right away.

To add the whole dynamic, they?ve also added the long awaited terrain deformation system. I remember people asking this cool feature back when they created Motocross Madness 2, and I remember their response. ?Are you guys crazy? Do you guys have any idea what kind of CPU and graphics power that would take?? Those days are now here. For those of you that have no idea what this is..The terrain changes dynamically with every lap, and forms ruts in the process, and those can be broken and so on.

When I spoke about adding a new dynamic, I mean this. Imagine, just getting used to the ?Reflex? control system, then after a few laps on a soft terrain track, you start having to actively use the new control system. I can tell you, both controller sticks get well used!

The sounds, this aspect of off-road titles always bothers me. Why? Because, video games never seem to get this part of the game right. I?m not a sound designer, nor an engineer. Plus, and I can?t imagine what sort CPU power is would take to mimic a small engine to the point that sounds as good as the real thing. Luckily, they?ve made huge strides in this department over the last title. The bike sounds were just wrong in Untamed, no, I?ll rephrase - broken. The sounds in Reflex are lot better, but not quite 100% there yet. They are getting close!

The game?s multiplayer mode has been completely overhauled. No more dropped hosts, it will auto relocate a new host, while racing. If you start a private session you have to ability to race up to 12 racers total (you plus 11) and queue up to 5 tracks, so when you?re done one, it will automatically load up the next set of tracks.

There?s also a new thing called playlists. Gone are the days of not finding a national race to be in, the server (yes they have a server now) automatically rotates a selection of tracks based on what you like to race. For example, if you only like to race Nationals, then you race a national. The server takes care of that! Yes, folks they are getting this multiplayer thing down! Yay!

Another new item is your ?Motocard?. What does it do? In simple terms, it keeps track of all your racing experience. You?re probably saying, so? If you race against someone that has been racing with the game for a while, and you beat them in a race, then you?ll get more experience towards your Motocard experience. And you get less if you lose, etc? Now at the end of the day, does a person get any bozo buttons for their hard earned efforts? Not terribly sure. We?ll see what Rainbow has in store for us.

I?ve become a huge fan of the Nationals, heck I?ve always loved racing Nationals in these games. But, with the new Reflex system, just makes it that much better.

As for Supercross, they?ve nailed it. Finally. They even hired David Lee/ David Olejniczak (the deap voice guy) to voice over a lot of the game?s introductions. But, they should have only used him in small doses, maybe only at the beginning of each race. The deep voice guy gets annoying after a while. Maybe, 80% Jamie Little and 20% David Lee?
Little tip here: As far as the Omnicross goes, put the bike and quad away. Otherwise, you?ll get killed. They are animals!

This is the count on the tracks, 3 Free Ride environments, 8 nationals, 8 Supercross, 6 Omnicross, 6 Freestyle courses, 4 Champion Sport Tracks and lastly 6 Waypoint courses, that?s a total of 41 tracks/courses. Good bang for the buck here.

Just when I thought an off-road title couldn?t get better looking. The attention to detail is quite remarkable. They?ve even got fresh tractor tracks, so that it has that freshly groomed smell to it! Makes Untamed, look like a kids drawing, no kidding. The only thing I wish they would of added was simple weather effects, like rain or snow. It was there in MX vs. ATV Unleashed. I imagine that it came down to managing CPU cycles. But, ultimately the graphics are simply stunning.

Here comes the bad. There?s only one, it?s the left to right collision physics. When I?d find myself being hit by another AI rider, or land in the tough blocks, the bike does some strange things. But, the bike?s interaction with the terrain is really good. This only seems to occur when another bike or object comes into the picture. I?m really hoping THQ or Rainbow Studio will consider releasing a patch to fix this problem. But, it?s not a show stopper.

The official word from THQ on DLC is this??THQ will be supporting MX vs. ATV Reflex post-launch with a variety of downloadable content. The DLC is currently in development at Rainbow Studios, and will include new tracks, gear and vehicle skins. Release dates have not yet been determined.?
So, it?s definitely good news on the DLC side of things, unlike Untamed, it?s actually coming this time! YAY!

In conclusion, MX vs. ATV Reflex has been turned on its head; it?s a completely new animal from all past motocross titles from THQ and Rainbow Studios. The game looks incredible, but that perfect combination of terrain deformation and reflex controls, make a great combo. I?m really anxious to see what they have in store for us as far as downloadable content. Maybe some old favorite tracks from games past. Call of Duty does it, why not tracks! Personally I?m not interested in paying for gear, just another track to ride on. MX vs. ATV Reflex is now the new standard on what motocross gaming should be!

Overall: 9.1 / 10
Gameplay: 9.1 / 10
Visuals: 9.8 / 10
Sound: 8.9 / 10


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