STAFF REVIEW of MX vs ATV Supercross Encore (Xbox One)

Saturday, August 13, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

MX vs ATV Supercross Encore Box art Recently I got the chance to review another dirt bike game titled MXGP2, and while it didn’t set the world on fire, I had high hopes for my latest review, MX vs. ATV Supercross Encore, as I’ve always tended to prefer any racing titles where you could backflip and perform other crazy stunts. Although I’ve only recently learned about many aspects about the sport of dirt bike racing I have come to appreciate all of its intricacies and appreciate that there’s much more motorcycle racing genre than simply going fast.

The last MX vs ATV game I played in detail was probably from the PS2 days. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, I’m just not one to go out and get them when they release unless I find it at a discount sometime afterwards as I am not a diehard fan. It’s clear that MX vs. ATV Supercross Encore is made for the fans, but it does extremely little to bring new people to the series. Case in point, Encore is simply a somewhat re-release of the last generation version of MX vs ATV, albeit with a few additions, hence the Encore title.

Given that Encore is somewhat of a remake of the Xbox 360 title, I was fully expecting some impressive visuals and a plethora of additions to justify its existence and price. Sadly none of these are found within. The MX vs ATV series has been around for quite some time, though the past few games in the series have seemed to have stagnated, as each new game seems to add only a few tweaks here and there rather than any substantial changes and improvements.

What sets MX vs ATV apart from the competition is that it features, well....MX bikes vs ATV’s, wrapped in a casual play style setting when compared to other games that tend to be more on the simulation side. In the beginning you’ll customize your rider and vehicle, which is limited to only a few options, but this will change as you progress through the different modes. While many parts you earn are mainly cosmetic, there are some performance enhancing ones as well. While there’s not much visual differences in many of the parts, at least some effort has been made, which is more than some other games can say.

The career mode is where you’ll most likely start first, allowing you to race on a series of 5 to 12 tracks depending on the class and style of race. You’ll gain points based on where you finish, and the racer with the most points at the end of a series is the winner. It will take some time to learn how to steer properly, so I suggest starting out with Single Race instead, which should help you to get your bearings and grasp how the game handles.

New to the Xbox One version is a Free Ride mode, allowing you to just ride around an open area. This really brought back memories of the Motocross Madness series, especially since the game will ‘throw’ you back onto the map if you drive out of bounds. It’s a nice addition to have for those that simply want to just ride around and do some tricks, but it doesn’t feel like it adds much to the overall package, especially since the game looks incredibly dated with its muddy textures. Another addition to Encore are the outdoor tracks, something severely lacking in the previous release. Lastly, Rhythm Racing is also included, which is a straight track full of hills and moguls. It sounds easy but they were the hardest tournaments I faced and I had difficulties placing.

The controls are the most difficult thing to get used to in Encore. It seems as though they wanted to take a somewhat realistic approach to the steering, but because of the weird physics and movements it doesn’t feel right, even after a dozen hours of getting used to it. You need to steer with the Left Stick obviously, but you also need to lean with the Right; not a big deal. Where the issues start to surface is when you lean just a smidgen too much or too little and you completely botch your turn. You do eventually become accustomed to it, but when you upgrade your bike with new parts, it’s like learning this mechanic all over again.

To make things even more difficult, you need to pre-load your jumps as well, and this is done with the right stick, meaning that when you’re holding down to load up on a jump, and if you slightly lean to the side, things can go all kinds of wrong real quick. You’ll also need to maneuver while in mid-air to correct your position before the landing, and again this is done with the right stick. Many times I thought I had my wheels lined up and I was positioned at the right angle, only to be thrown off my bike and eat a face full of virtual dirt.

I was totally excited that Encore allowed me to pull off some backflips, Supermans, and other crazy stunts, but there’s no real reason to as you’re not scored on them in races. To make matters worse, it’s not a simple button or direction press either, as you need to hit a combination of directions, such as up, left, and right on the Right Stick for a single trick, but that’s only if you’re holding the Right Bumper first, to indicate you want to do a trick. It’s not gratifying even when you do manage to pull one off, and because of the difficulty in doing so, there’s no real reason to either.

Graphically, this isn’t an HD-ified version at all. There is lots of texture pop-in, nothing looks that sharp, and the open tracks, which I was excited to explore, are nothing but barren land with nothing to even find or challenges that you can set up for your friends. As you race the same lines in multiple laps on the various tracks, ruts will form and it looks as if the ground is deforming, but it never felt as if it made a difference to my racing at all, even when hitting the ruts at a completely wrong angle.

There is an online multiplayer mode, and I’d love nothing more to go into detail about it, but after 3 days of searching for a match I’ve still been unable to find a single game to join. When the game doesn’t hang while searching for a game, you’re unable to cancel or back out, forcing you to wait or close the game manually. There’s no simple Quick Match, so you need to select one of the numerous modes to join and hope that someone is hosting, or looking to join, that specific mode. Even trying to find a Freeride game brought no results, as I wanted to see what 12 players would be like, but apparently there’s no mini-games built in for you to have fun with. My guess is that there’s simply no one playing this online, which is a shame for fans that was hoping for a good community to join.

While the game is priced decently ($29.99 CAD), it’s unfathomable that this doesn’t include all of the previous DLC to this point, as this is a port of the last generation title. Delving into the marketplace, you can spend more than the price of the game on DLC alone, which comes across as trying to double dip. If anything, MX vs ATV Supercross Encore simply feels bland and mediocre as nothing stood out or is memorable, and I didn’t even feel like finishing up many of the achievements when failing tournaments numerous times in a row (I don’t want to Rhythm Race ever again).

If Encore had all of the included DLC and had signs that some effort went into making it for current-gen, then it would be a different story. Instead, you have a game that’s kind of fun in very short bursts, but only if you’re a huge fan of the series and genre. If the controls weren’t such a mess and the stunt system an exercise in what I see as "finger yoga", then I would say to at least give it a try, but in its current state though, this one is doomed to stay stuck in its own rut.

Overall: 3.5 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 3.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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