“MX vs. ATV: Alive” flies almost as high as the athlete that appears on the cover of the game. That’s a compliment considering the massive air that two-time AMA Supercross Champion James “Bubba” Stewart routinely catches while hitting ramps on his bike.
Make Your Own Game
Besides Stewart’s guest star appearance, the biggest difference between the newest in the off-road racing series and its predecessors is its unique approach to downloadable content.
The game is sold at a lower price ($39.99) than normal but contains a limited amount of content that can be boosted with both free and paid DLC. The idea is that gamers will have the freedom to customize and create the game they want to play by picking their own vehicles, gears, tracks and modes. One of the highlights of the extra content is Stewart’s own personal compound, which is chock full of ridiculously awesome jumps, ramps, and bumps to try in the Freeplay mode.
Other new bikes and ATVs, courses and custom content are not downloaded but earned when your racer hits certain experience levels. One cool aspect of "Alive" is that everything you do – including messing around doing stunts at your own pace in Freeplay -- earns you experience points that can level up your rider and vehicle and unlocks the ability to eventually face off against Stewart himself.
In the single player mode, you race against a large roster of other pro riders, including Mike Alessi, Tarah Gieger, Ashley Fiolek and Cole Seely -- which provides plenty of challenge, especially at the higher difficulty levels. But once you get your off-roading racing legs, you’ll likely want to take on friends or other gamers online in the 12-person races in the multiplayer mode.
To succeed in either the single player or multiplayer modes, mastering the controls in “Alive” is key, even if the complexity seems a bit intimidating at first. Unlike in most racing games where the strategy boils down to left and right turns and knowing when to break, “Alive”
is about shifting your weight for maximum turns, maintaining your speed on hill climbs and trying to land on the down slopes of big jumps.
After some practice, the satisfaction of pulling off the perfect lap with a dose of popping the clutch and properly maintaining your gas and brake pedals is sublime.
It’s also refreshing knowing how much skill it takes to win a race. Unlike a racer like, “Super Mario Kart” -- where the game artificially boosts the prospects of those who lag behind -- you can only win in “Alive” if you know how to handle your vehicle and the track. Luck plays a very small role in the outcome.
“MX vs. ATV” has always been a solid offroad racing series, but “Alive” with its innovative new customization strategy, deep controls, and addition of motocross king Stewart makes this THQ’s best effort yet.
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