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by Infogrames

r_msx_Screen4-01.jpg (6174 bytes)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.

r_msx_Screen3-01.jpg (6354 bytes)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 isn’t 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 won’t recognize, but the superb gameplay more than makes up for any shortcomings due to the license.

r_msx_Screen8-01.jpg (6406 bytes)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 don’t 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.

r_msx_Screen5-01.jpg (6530 bytes)The control is one aspect that isn’t 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, you’ll 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, you’ll be running perfect laps in no time.

r_msx_Screen7-01.jpg (6577 bytes)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, it’s best to get out front and stay there.

r_msx_Screen12-01.jpg (6913 bytes)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.

r_msx_Screen11-01.jpg (7278 bytes)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 isn’t 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 doesn’t 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, you’ll be annoyed. The second time it happens, you’ll be angry. The third time it happens, you’ll start thinking about how you can use this flaw in the game’s engine to your advantage. This does take away from the realistic aspects of the game, but it doesn’t make it any less fun.

r_msx_Screen6-01.jpg (7644 bytes)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 isn’t 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 think.

Eric Qualls   (12/21/2001)


Ups: First person POV; great graphics; nice control; fun racing.

Downs: Uses lesser-known riders and circuits; specialty interest.

Platform: Sony PS2