MX vs ATV Untamed, Video Game Review

Dirty off-road fun in the comfort of your living room

Story by Lucas Cooney, Feb. 25, 2008

ATV.com’s web designers do a great job of making our stories and site look great, but they don’t get many opportunities to test out the equipment for themselves. So, when we got our hands on Rainbow Studios’ new game MX vs. ATV Untamed, I decided to ask the boys for their help in reviewing it.

With David Uruena and Mark Prociw, a pair of avid gamers, on board, we ordered some pizza and went to work.

A great feature of this game is the warm-up area you can play around in before each race or event. It was a good place to get used to the handling of your vehicle over a variety of terrain.

Game play is fast and exciting, which is exactly how it should be with a racing game. You have to make quick decisions and if you make the wrong one, you’re likely going to crash. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of things as soon as you pick up the controller, but it does take a little time before you start racking up wins.

Fighting for position in the corners with a big group of vehicles is a lot of fun as you can push other riders out of the way and even knock them right off their vehicles.

Though the title would indicate that this game is all about motocross bikes and ATVs, there are a lot more vehicles to choose from. You can race in monster trucks, dune buggies, trophy trucks, golf karts and more. If you’ve been racing ATVs for a while and you are looking for a change, just choose a different vehicle for your next showdown.

Switching vehicles, however, will require changes in your driving style as each vehicle behaves differently. Motocross bikes and ATVs accelerate quickly and can make sharp, quick turns. Monster trucks and dune buggies require more deliberate steering, but they are very stable.

Given that ATV.com is a site for ATV enthusiasts, we spent most of our time riding ATVs and motocross bikes—usually against each other. Besides, these are the vehicles that allow you to attempt the jumps and tricks that you wouldn’t even think about in real life.

As you fly off the various jumps and ramps at heights that don’t seem possible, you may begin to question the realism of this game. But physics be damned—landing double back flips and about 50 other tricks is fun and that’s what video games are supposed to be.

As fun as it is to land gravity-defying tricks, crashing seems a lot more common and that is one area of frustration in this game. So many times one of us would pull off what looked like a great trick and line up what seemed like a proper landing only to go flying off the vehicle when the wheels hit the ground. Perhaps it just takes some extra practice to be able to land more consistently, but it was a little annoying.

Crashing, though, did not come without its small joys. As soon as a spill occurred, the rider would go flying through the air with seemingly no control over his extremities. Watching a ‘competitor’ flop around like a rag doll in mid-air was usually good for a laugh, even if it did cost you a couple of spots in the race.

MX vs ATV Untamed has no shortage of racing environments in which to ride, from indoor Supercross and Endurocross tracks to wide-open races through grassy fields and rocky desert. Even more impressive, though, is the variety of non-racing features and mini-games.

Two different features are focused entirely on putting together the best possible tricks—Freestyle and Graffiti. Both were fun areas to play around in and probably needed to be in the game, but they got old fairly quickly and didn’t keep our attention for long.

One mini-game that did capture our attention was hockey. It was a little tricky to control an ATV on ice, but it was plenty of fun trying to put the giant puck (an ATV tire) into the net.

Most enjoyable, though, was the mini-game called Snake, which will be familiar to those who remember Tron (how old am I?). In this head-to-head game, each rider leaves behind a trail that acts, basically, like a brick wall and the object is to get the other rider to run into it. This is way more fun than it sounds and we probably had more fun with this than we did with any other part of the game. You get a nice sense of satisfaction when your opponent slams into your trail and goes flying through the air.

All of these game modes are available online on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which is all the better. If you get sick of playing the computer or whoever happens to be sitting next to you, you can always find a game online.

As much fun as the game play is, the graphics don’t seem up to par with a lot of other current racing games, especially on PlayStation 3. Things looked slightly better across the board on the Xbox 360, but this game doesn’t look any better than top level game from the original Xbox or PlayStation 2.

Though MX vs ATV Untamed offers a wide variety of vehicles to choose from, all of them are fake brand names thought up by the designers. We would like to be able to choose specific models, like you can in such racing games as Grand Turismo and Forza Motorsport. If you have a Polaris Outlaw in your garage, it would be cool if you could choose to ride a Polaris Outlaw in the game. You can modify your ATV buy purchasing vehicle upgrades in MX vs ATV, but they are generally cosmetic rather than actually affecting vehicle performance.

All told, MX vs ATV Untamed is a fun game to play. If you like ATVs and you like gaming at all, it’s a no-brainer. It’s available across all the major platforms, including the Nintendo DS and PSP.