STAFF REVIEW of MX Unleashed (Xbox)
Thursday, February 26, 2004.
When seeing all the video footage for MX Unleashed before it's release, I highly anticipated the game. To my surprise after getting my hands on this game, I soon after decided to sign my life over to Rainbow Studios. Before this game, the only motocross game I could stand to play for long periods of time was Motocross Madness 1 and 2. Now there is a new king of the MX games and it is called MX Unleashed.
MX Unleashed features your standard gamestyles in most MX games, but with just a little more. How would you like to race your 250cc Yamaha against a monster truck? You'll get your chance to leave your opponents, in their unlikely vehicles, in the dust. Along with these new vehicles available, MX Unleashed also features great graphics, a energy pumping rock soundtrack and an addictive gameplay that will attract MX fans and gamers that haven't been fans in the past. This game has very few flaws and tons of great features which make this the best MX game I have played across all gaming platforms.
As I stated before, MX Unleashed features some of the most addicting gameplay. I have had to force myself to turn off my Xbox at the early hours of the morning on several occasions. I realized I wasn't the only one with this situation, as I was standing in EB Games talking to a friend I saw a guy continually walk back to the MX Unleashed playable demo station. He ended up walking out of the store with a copy of his own. Soon after I witnessed several other people walk in and immediately pick up the controller and start blasting around the course.
The game starts you off with the 125cc and 250cc bikes available and just a few tracks to race through. Players will be able to practice at Supercross, Nationals and Freestyle courses. I recommend anyone who hasn't played any MX games in the past, to watch the training videos and run a few laps on each style of race to get the hang of things. Which brings up the point of the controls. The controls in MX Unleashed are really easy to get use to and this is proven by the fact that I could easily blast my way to first in races. In the past with the Motocross Madness games I was forced to use the keyboard because I couldn't do anything with a controller. I can't think of any problems with the controls at all in this game.
More of the unlockable features in MX Unleashed are the machines you race in the different freestyle courses, which I will hit back on later in this review. Also available will be the 50cc and 500cc bikes. Players will also be able to open up new Supercross Tracks, Nationals and Freestyle courses. Now you won't be running through for a few minutes and expect to go buy tons of these items. Each of the items are very expensive so they will require some time playing the game to earn up your points in career mode to buy them.
Now for some for some of the gameplay modes. Supercross is your basic supercross racing with a total of 7 other computer controlled racers running about the course with you. Nationals are my personal favorites as they are filled with big outdoor courses and jumps that will have you soaring through the air gazing down on the other jealous riders. Both of these modes follow the basics of what they are in real life. Where things get fun and aggravating, I think are the Freestyle events. Players will have to run through a gauntlet of objectives to pass these stages. Each Freestyle course features several Hits and Runs. Hits are where riders compete against each other to launch from a particular spot and land in the designated zone. The rider that hits all the spots first is the winner. Runs are similar to hits, but done solo and requires no errors. Runs will have a set course of Hits a rider must make and if you fail one of the hits you will have to restart all over again. As you complete each of these types of goals you will unlock another set of the same style until completing the set number for the freestyle course. Also in the Freestyle gamemode is Stunts and Machine Race goals. The Stunts of course, involve you trying to reach a set score by breaking out high combo tricks and amazing moves. Each Freestyle course has a Machine Race. This is where you are made to race head to head with one of five other machines. The machines you will be tearing up the terrain against will be the Dune Buggy, Biplane, Monster Truck, Trophy Truck and of course a Helicopter. These races can seem impossible at first, especially when you go up against the Biplane and realize it's not fair that you have hills and obstacles to go through while the plane is flying free and easy in the sky. Don't worry though, if you get stuck on one of the Hit, Run or Stunt objectives, you will be able to buy their completion at the store. They aren't too highly priced. Just know, you won't get any money for buying your way through the game, so it will require you to actually do some of the game on your own.
One of the few small flaws I think MX Unleashed has is there is no Xbox Live or System Link support. It would have been nice to see them have downloadable courses in the future off of Xbox Live, and System Link would have been great so I could hook up with a bunch of my friends and have a large race. Which also reminds me of the multiplayer that is in the game. You will be able to play with other players on the same console, but you are limited to the same gamemodes that are available in the career mode. I will always remember playing tag in other MX games. What is nice about the freestyle mode with other friends is the fact that you can hop in the other vehicles and spend time like me and my friends where you try running down the bike riders with the monster truck. So I guess you can come up with your own gameplay. Also players that will have the choice of joining in on a Hit Run or Stunt Competition with the other player. If you decline you will still be able to run about the level and maybe even try and cause trouble for the person trying to get those Hits accomplished.
The physics of the game are pretty good. There is a hint of realism and just a touch of the unbelievable. Watching the rider flop hard on the ground and tumble will get you to cringe a few times and claim That has to hurt!. Don't worry they aren't real. Some complaints about the physics is when your driving the monster truck which I feel shouldn't be launched into the air when running into other vehicles such as tractor trailers that drive around. This however isn't something that really affects the gameplay harshly so I let it slide.
Overall MX Unleashed can provide hours of fun gameplay for you and your friends. I know this is one game that will always be a must to play when I have friends over for some gaming.
MX Unleashed features some very nice graphics. The skies and terrain is nice, minus the trees. True it isn't a high requirement that the you are able to see each leaf and shadow of them to enjoy the game. For what the game is, the visuals are great. There are the shadows that you would expect to see even if this wasn't a great visual game. This is due to the lighting which adds a very realistic feel to the terrain. Which also brings up the different climates you will ride through. When riding through the snow, rain and sunny levels it just adds more feel to each terrain. I enjoy the variety with the climates and am glad that it was a small feature that really ends up being a monster added into the game.
What I like is the customization of your rider. You are able to choose your gear from several different companies, as well as your bike, number and name displayed on your rider and bike. Unfortunately you won't be able to design your own colors for your gear, which I had a friend complain about, but again it's not something that is dire to the gameplay.
When riding around the courses you will notice the detail in the actions of your bike riding through the dirt. Smoke, rocks and other dirt specs fly from the back of your bike as it tears through the terrain. The dust off the ground from a riders bike is nice when you are trying to hunt down someone in the large freestyle levels. With all this dirt, dust and other things flying up from your bike it brings up the point of the first person view. I really enjoy the first person camera. You get a chance to see your rider flying high from a jump and even when doing a backflip. Warning, this may cause some motion sickness when you have your rider do a triple backflip. If you don't believe me, ride to the edge of a freestyle level and launch of the mountain doing a backflip and just like them go. One thing I thought could have been a neat feature with the first person camera would to be having your view get dirt and dust on it from the other riders in front of you. This I feel could have been done in a way to where it wouldn't really interfere with you so much to cause a big difference in your performance during races.
Unlike most racing games, when finishing a race you don't get any kind of cinematic or gameplay movie showing you bragging to the other racers or playing to the crowd. The game really doesn't feature any cinematics which is a downfall. It would have even been nice to have some live footage from real MX races added in as extras.
Now how hard could it be making good sounds for a MX game? Well I've witnessed games in the past that had horrible sound effects. MX Unleashed is not in this group. Each of the different classes of bikes make their own unique sound which is very realistic. Also hearing the bikes while in midair and your revving the throttle you hear how much detail has been thrown into the engines. Also the riders when crashing make some very sincere grunts and groans. This helps in making you feel bad for putting them through so much pain.
MX Unleashed has custom soundtrack capabilities, but if your into rock, you won't have to touch it too much. The music featured in the game is already great stuff. Featuring some of the best bands in the genre. If you still want to hear your songs and the songs featured in the game don't worry. It will do a great job picking randomly songs from your list and the in game list to play while you are playing. I have noticed how some of the songs in my soundtrack just start in at the perfect moment. When a rider just preloads a jump and goes flying through the air as a song kicks in, it can get your really into the game and the music will pump you to do more and more extreme things.
It would be nice to have downloadable courses and system link play. Even without these, MX Unleashed is one of the best games I have played and look forward to hours more of entertainment from the game.
Overall: 9.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.8 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10