James Stewart catching air Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

THQ is revving up a flood of new features for MX vs. ATV Alive, the latest in the high-flying, dirt-loving motocross and all-terrain vehicle series, starting with the box itself.

A big-name motocross athlete will appear on the cover of an MX vs. ATV game for the first time in the form of James “Bubba” Stewart. But Stewart isn’t just lending his image to the game for decoration.

The two-time AMA Supercross Champion collaborated with Alive’s developers on gameplay, provided voiceovers and allowed access to his personal motocross compound so that every nook, cranny and jump of his practice space could be featured as a special Free Ride map.

“I wouldn’t say the model is pretty close, I’d say it’s spot on,” said Stewart. 

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The compound will be offered as a free digital download for gamers who buy a new copy of the game on launch day. It is a key part of THQ’s unique strategy to offer the game at a $20 lower than most new console games ($39.99) but offer gamers the choice to seek extra content via both free and paid downloadable content. An in-game “MotoClub depot” will allow you to download branded vehicles (such as OEM Suzuki bike models), helmets, goggles, new tracks and a Supercross mode.

Alive has also buried the series’ traditional career mode in favor of a new XP system which rewards your rider for nearly everything you do -- pulling off tricks, knocking opponents off their bikes, even finishing a race last. Leveling up rewards you new vehicles, parts, perks and unlocks bigger and badder tracks. The game begins with six tracks, but up to 12 of them -- with environments like Japanese tundra, southwestern style desert or countryside -- can be unlocked with enough progression in levels. Alive also boasts an impressive roster of other pro riders in addition to Stewart, including Austin Stroupe, Davi Millsaps, Matt Boni, Chad Johnson, Nick DeNoble, and Hunter Hewitt. 

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The Reflex control system, which allows you to steer your vehicle with the left stick and shift your weight with the right, has returned in Alive, allowing for sharper turns and the ability to get maximum air off big jumps. THQ is also pimping what it calls a new “Bar-to-Bar” racing mechanic – which allows for even more aggressive physical contact between riders. Riders better take their lumps in the single player mode because multiplayer features intensely competitive 12-player online races.

MX vs. ATV Alive speeds into stores May 10 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

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