Monday, September 5, 2011

Down and dirty with 'MX vs. ATV: Alive'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Much like the four games that came before it, "MX vs. ATV: Alive" is an off-road racing game that challenges you to climb onto motocross bikes and all-terrain vehicles and race against tough competitors.

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    "MX vs. ATV: Alive," the latest in the franchise, delivers white-knuckle off-road racing at a discounted price.


"MX vs. ATV: Alive," the latest in the franchise, delivers white-knuckle off-road racing at a discounted price.

But this time around, THQ went with a "subsidized" pricing model. Instead of a $60 title, it's a $40 title with a heavy emphasis on downloadable content. For a couple of bucks apiece, you can purchase additional modes, tracks, vehicles and gear.

Even though it's not too different than its predecessors, the game can be quite exhilarating, and the pricing model works. Just be aware you're not getting the entire experience out of the box.

Available now for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3, "MX vs. ATV: Alive" is designed to be an authentic motocross racing experience, delivered via a realistic physics engine with real-time terrain deformation (the track beneath you continuously changes as you shift dirt) and based on authentic events and championship courses.

In fact, fans of the sport might appreciate the game's real-world riders — among them, two-time AMA Supercross champion James "Bubba" Stewart, who not only graces the cover of the game but is a playable rider and makes video appearances throughout the game. His personal motocross compound has been digitally recreated and is offered as a free download.

Speaking of downloads, however: Before you can have any fun, you need to sit through a mandatory 390-megabyte update file on the PlayStation 3 version. The game makers may have shipped the title a tad prematurely.


?MX vs. ATV: Alive? is a $40 title with a heavy emphasis on downloadable content.

But those who enjoy motocross and all-terrain vehicle racing will no doubt have fun spraying dirt around the tracks — and through mountains, jungles and snowy wastelands — as they vie for the checkered flag at the end of the final lap.

The developers enhanced the control of both the riders and vehicles, and it shows. They've put more emphasis and precision on the dual analog sticks. For example, in a tight turn, you should push the right analog stick in the same direction, so your rider can lean in; if you're in the air and you see your rider is popping a wheelie that can result in a crash, push forward on the right stick to situate the rider back on the seat. Plus, the addition of the "bar-to-bar" system makes it possible (and fun) to trade bumps, pushes and shoves with fellow riders as you race through courses.

Too bad there are only a couple of unlockable "free ride" areas with the game, where you're not racing but perfecting your control, performing tricks and practicing long jumps. There is certainly less here than previous "MX vs. ATV" games, but you can pay to download more, if you want to.

Another issue is the lack of online multiplayer with the PlayStation 3 version as Sony addresses its highly-publicized data breach and works to bring the PlayStation Network back online (and may have happened by the time you read this). This is certainly not THQ's fault.

But overall, "MX vs. ATV: Alive" offers tight controls, exciting competitive racing and a more appealing price tag.

"MX vs. ATV: Alive"

Platform: Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3

Genre: Racing

Developer: THQ Digital Studios

Publisher: THQ

Web site:

Price: $39.99

Rating: Everyone

Score: 3.0 stars (out of 4)

Contact Saltzman at


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