Motocross games have been
hit or miss in terms of popularity as far back as I can remember. Jeremy McGrath
Supercross 98 on the PSone really started the surge of motocross games back into the
public eye, but none of them--aside from Excitebike 64 on the Nintendo 64-- have been all
that great. None of the games have really captured the excitement and drama of a real
supercross (indoor) or motocross (outdoor) event until now. I have loved professional
motorcycle racing for a while now--watching events on television, attending live events,
and in the last few years riding dirt bikes on the weekends with my friends. From all of
this real life experience with the sport, I can easily say that MX Rider is the best
representation of the sport that I have ever played.
The only real problem I
have with MX Rider is that because the other games on the market already have the U.S.
supercross and motocross circuit licenses, MX Rider uses the lesser known FIM Motocross
World Championship license. This circuit mostly takes place in Europe and Asia and
therefore isnt very well known here in the States. The game does feature all 23
official tracks of the FIM Championship as well as 60 real life riders from the circuit, a
handful of which I actually recognized. This is an international MX game whose tracks and
riders most people wont recognize, but the superb gameplay more than makes up for
any shortcomings due to the license.
MX Rider is one of the few racing games where it is actually easier and more
fun to ride from the first person perspective. The other camera angles just dont
look quite right, and they cause the control to be a little bit trickier. The first person
perspective puts you right on the seat. When you turn, you see "your" hands
turning the handlebars and when you do a trick, you see "your" feet doing a heel
clicker. Also, the first person perspective offers a great sense of speed and a great
feeling of what it is like to actually be in a motocross event.
The control is one aspect that isnt realistic, but it works very well for
a video game. It mostly consists of pushing the X button for go, the Square button for
brakes, and tricks are performed by the Circle button plus a directional movement. The
first time you pick up the game, youll be scraping the barriers in all of the
corners, but once you learn nuances like how to take jumps correctly, and how to take
corners at the right speed/angle, youll be running perfect laps in no time.
The graphics in MX Rider are great. The bikes and riders are all nearly
perfect, and the stadiums for the supercross races and the sprawling outdoor motocross
courses are perfectly detailed and look great. Effects like dirt, mud, and water spraying
behind the bikes also look very realistic. In addition, the dirt and mud will collect on
the riders, which just adds to the realism. If you want to keep clean, its best to
get out front and stay there.
MX Rider features one of the most fun and competitive single player racing
modes I have ever played. In the championship races themselves, the other riders are
aggressive, and it really requires talent to fight your way up front and stay there. This
is in no way frustrating because it is relatively easy to make it up to fourth or fifth,
but after that it is an exciting fight to the finish as the top three or four riders fight
for the win. I remember all too many times when I was in the lead on the last lap,
fighting off one or two opponents only to mistime a jump or take the wrong line in a
corner only to be passed right before the finish. I was disappointed, yes, but I knew it
was my fault I lost, and that made me want to keep playing even more.
The physics involved in jumping and landing are fairly well done, and if you
mess up on a jump, your timing will be off for at least the next lap as you get back up to
speed. One thing in the races that isnt very realistic is how you react to the other
riders. If they bump into you on the ground, one of you will get bumped out of the way and
slowed down. This doesnt happen all of the time, but often enough to be mildly
annoying. If they bump into you in the air, it causes both of you to bounce off to the
side. And if you land on them or they land on you, the one on top bounces up into the air.
The first time this happens, youll be annoyed. The second time it happens,
youll be angry. The third time it happens, youll start thinking about how you
can use this flaw in the games engine to your advantage. This does take away from
the realistic aspects of the game, but it doesnt make it any less fun.
MX Rider also includes a freestyle mode, which seems to have become standard in
motocross games. You make big jumps and do tricks, and so on and so forth. It isnt
really all that fun when compared to the challenge of the real races. Other modes include
single race and a challenge mode that has you completing specific objectives such as
getting the hole shot or performing a certain trick. Two players can compete in motocross,
supercross, and freestyle events.
Overall, MX Rider looks, sounds, and acts the part. The controls give the game an
arcade playability that allows anyone to pick up the game and enjoy it, while the graphics
and overall feel allow racing fans to enjoy the thrills of racing from their own living
room. I really enjoy MX Rider and would say that if you are a fan of the sport in real
life, pick up the game and enjoy. At the very least, give MX Rider a rent and see what you