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by THQ

MX2.jpg (5058 bytes)Featuring supercross and motocross champion Ricky Carmichael, MX Superfly is the latest release from THQ. Not only does it eclipse previous entries in the series, Superfly is one of the best motocross games available. The races are competitive, the tracks are tough, and the freestyle mode is surprisingly fun. MX Superfly has all of the ingredients for a good time, and if you are a fan of motocross, it might be right up your alley.

MX1.jpg (5258 bytes)There are 27 professional riders to choose from, coming from the 125cc, 250cc, and freestyle ranks. Besides Ricky Carmichael, Tim Ferry, Ezra Lusk, Ernesto Fonseca, Chad Reed, Mike Larocco, and even rookie standout James "Bubba" Stewart are included among several other big name stars coming from the motocross world. Freestyle riders include "Tomcat" Tommy Clowers, Kris Rourke, and "Mad" Mike Jones. The lineup is pretty good, and I was especially surprised to see James Stewart in there, but it is definitely incomplete. Right now, the roster of professional riders gets split into about three or four parts because each company that develops games in this genre grabs up their share of the stars. THQ has Carmichael, Acclaim has Jeremy McGrath and Travis Pastrana, EA has …I don’t know who EA has. It will be a great day when all of the stars can appear in all of the games--a day that I hope comes sooner rather than later.

MX12.jpg (5453 bytes)In addition to the real life riders, Superfly also features some real life track locations. Red Budd, Washougal, and Glen Helen are just some of the motocross tracks that made it. The supercross events in Indianapolis, Dallas, St. Louis, and Phoenix are also available. In addition to these real world locations, there are several freestyle arenas as well as huge open levels for exploring. These original levels include a ski resort during the summer where you can explore all over the mountain and even take the ski lift back up to the top, and an absolutely enormous city to play around in. The city level is great because you can go pretty much anywhere you want, thanks to some strategically placed ramps. You can even climb up to the top of the highest skyscraper and do tricks off of it. Perhaps the best track in the game is the US Open track you unlock at the end of the career mode. This track is located inside a casino and is huge. Big elevation changes and lots of jumps make it one of my favorites.

Mx9.jpg (5837 bytes)All in all, the tracks and open environments are very well done. The supercross and motocross tracks especially stand out because they have a very realistic feel to them. You can’t just tear around the levels full throttle all the time. You have to time your jumps perfectly in order to make a clean lap and keep up your speed. If you do mess up a jump, it takes a little while to get back up to speed. Practicing on the tracks is important if you want to win, because it takes a pretty clean lap to get anything better than third place. This never becomes frustrating, though, because you usually know exactly why you messed up and you can correct it on the next lap.

Mx4.jpg (6688 bytes)There are several modes to test your skills in. Exhibition race and Freestyle modes allow you to pick a rider and a course and do whatever you darn well please. Career mode allows you to work your way up the ranks in either a racing or freestyle season. You start by picking your gear and your bike and then going through the 125cc ranks up into the 250cc class, earning money from each event which allows you to move on to new challenges. You unlock new tracks via the career mode, so it is worthwhile to play through it at least once. Another mode is the mini game mode where you can practice mini games from the freestyle career mode. There are 11 mini games, most of which are remarkably fun. Pizza delivery has you jumping all over the city level delivering pizzas. Bus jump has you in a long jump contest to see who can jump the furthest. Step up is a competition to see who can jump the highest. In Moto Golf you have to ride all over a golf course, starting at each tee box and then riding to the hole where you hit the flagstick before you move onto the next tee box. There is also a downhill slalom mode where you have to weave in and out of gates as you tear down a mountain. These mini games are easy to get into and ridiculously fun. If there were enough ones put together, it could almost be a game on its own. There is also a track editor, but you can only make freestyle courses, so it isn’t really all that fun. A full course editor would have been greatly appreciated.

Mx8.jpg (7023 bytes)To be competitive in all of the modes, it helps to have a good understanding of the controls. They take a bit of work to learn, and performing tricks is rather complicated, but once you learn how to control your bike, the game really opens up and becomes great. In order to make the big jumps, you have to preload your suspension and then release it right before you jump off the ramp. In the corners you have to master the delicate balance between using enough brake and giving it just enough clutch before you slam on the accelerator and shoot out of the corner. Mastering these tactics is made a much easier task thanks to tutorial challenges in the career mode, thankfully. Performing a single trick requires you to press at least three buttons before the trick begins. While in the air, you have to press the trick button, then a combination of X, Square, Circle, and Triangle before a trick begins. I found the trick system to be surprisingly rewarding and the freestyle modes are much more entertaining than watching the sport in real life. The controls take a bit of time to learn, but it is definitely worth it.

Mx11.jpg (7425 bytes)One thing that should be noted is that while the riders, tracks, and most of the racing is fairly realistic, once you get into the air it is a completely different story. You can throw your bike around pretty much at will, performing back flips, front flips, and barrel rolls like there’s no tomorrow. You stay in the air forever, it seems, but that is part of why the freestyle mode is so satisfying. You can do a double back flip while doing a superman seat grab at the same time and there is a good chance you’ll land it and receive big points. I found this blend of realism with pure fantasy to be quite enjoyable.

MX13.jpg (8214 bytes)Graphically, MX Superfly looks pretty darn good. The riders don’t move around as much as they do in other games, but they are very detailed. You are allowed to choose what gloves, helmet, boots, and uniform you want along with your name and number, and all of these customizations are clearly visible. The riders also get dirty as the race goes on, which is a nice effect. The bikes are detailed right down to the knobs on the tires and have a great look to them. The tracks are big and realistically detailed. There are fans and officials and even construction equipment scattered alongside the courses, just like real life.

MX14.jpg (8745 bytes)Also worth noting is the excellent sound found in Superfly. The music is pretty good, featuring mostly punk music including a couple songs from the "I was in a Tony Hawk game" club. More important than the music is how good the bikes sound. Finally, someone spent the time to give us dirt bikes that actually sound like dirt bikes. Perhaps the greatest part of the whole sound package is that four stroke engines are available when you choose your bike, and they actually sound like four stroke engines. These throaty, extremely loud bikes sound very different from the normal motorcycles in the game, and most importantly, they sound just like they do in real life. Finally my prayers were answered and I have a racing game with good sound. Halleluiah.

Mx10.jpg (8880 bytes)Overall, MX Superfly is the best motocross game available for the PS2. The tracks represent the real life sport extremely well while the freestyle mode takes just enough liberties with the laws of physics to be fun but not too goofy. While it doesn’t have a first person camera angle, which was one of my favorite parts of MX Rider, the two camera options available get the job done. The game looks good and sounds absolutely fantastic. If you are a fan of the sport in real life, or you just like a good racing video game, then MX Superfly is a solid purchase. 

Eric Qualls   (08/14/2002)


Ups: Great blend of realism and fantasy riding; races are strategic and satisfying; freestyle is big and impressive; excellent sound.

Downs: A bit of a learning curve to the controls.

Platform: PlayStation 2