Good grief. Yes, good grief. I am
beginning to think that we, the video game fans and consumers, are way too forgiving. Or
we are just gullible. How else can a company like 3DO stay in business while producing
consistently horrible games?
I hate to
generalize and slam an entire company like that (especially in writing), but it has come
down to that, hasnt it? I am looking at 3DOs entire line of games for the PS2,
and I dont see one title that is anything more than mediocre. Portal Runner was
mildly entertaining, but not at all in the league of other next-gen platformers. I
cant think of the last Army Men game that I enjoyed. And WarJetz? Come on!
Thats just to name a few.
I am not
trying to be insulting, nor do I want to seem bitter. But I am starting lose friends here,
damn it! I used to be the cool guy who reviewed video games, had all of the inside info
and new stuff. I was the guy who had a playable demo of GT3 months before it was released.
Now Im the asshole who subjects his friends to level after torturous level of bad
games in service of a review. People groan when I enter the room with a game in my hand.
And if that game says 3DO on the case, I better have a pizza and a half rack under the
other arm. I am not a rich man, people. The pizza and beer penance is starting to take its
Look, I know the process of creating and producing a successful
video game isnt easy. The combination of knowledge, skill, patience, determination,
luck, and timing required seems nearly insurmountable. And yet it happens, often. Some
companies are even able to do it fairly reliably.
The problem, I
believe, is that 3DO has worn out one of their few original franchises (Army Men) and are
looking in the wrong direction for the next big thing. Games like WarJetz and Portal
Runner work on a level consistent with 1st or 2nd generation PSX
games. Had they been released then, they might have done well, but they lend nothing new
to the current market. Now they have given us Jonny Moseley Mad Trix, another "me
too" game trying to capitalize on a popular gaming trend without offering anything to
move the genre forward.
Okay, let me step off of my soapbox. Hopefully my time spent there will be seen as
constructive, and not belligerent.
wrong with Mad Trix? Well, aside from an easy to pick up control scheme and a few good
tunes on the soundtrack, everything. My biggest issue is intensity. When I pick up an
"extreme" sports game, be it arcade or sim, I expect a little
"extreme" game play. Mad Trix is unbelievably, unbearably, ungodly slow. I am
not just talking about when you are starting down the slope. It is slow when you are
accelerating into a full lean, grinding, or jumping. It is slow even when you are falling.
This game is so slow, even the announcer sounds anesthetized.
As far as options go, the usual is here: you can practice in Ski School, mosey around
in Freeride, or go right to Competition. On each level of Competition you must complete
the Slopestyle Venue, where you perform tricks and beat set scores to earn medals and move
onto the Big Mountain. Once in Big Mountain, you are dropped from a helicopter onto a big
mountain (what else?) where you try to pull off a spectacular downhill run so that you
will be included in a fictional ski movie. This is okay, but it limits you to beating
scores, rather than including the more inventive objectives seen in other trick games.
There is no multiplayer.
set-up is good, as it is nearly identical to that of Tony Hawk. But while the trick system
contains all of the basics: jumps, spins, flips, and grabs, it manages to be no fun
whatsoever. This is due partly to the games slow paceits as if you are
performing underwater. There is also a funky physics system that more or less cheats you
through some tricks, robbing you of any satisfaction at having pulled them off. You can,
for example, completely misjudge a jump and overshoot a rail, but instead of sailing past
it, all you have to do is tap the grind button and you will be sucked down onto it, as if
by some mysterious tractor beam. You can also grind for an infinite amount of time, as
there is no balance control of any kind. The lack of fun is mostly due, however, to the
incredibly shallow list of tricks there are to perform and a lack of trick modifiers and
extenders. You get a tweak button. Thats it. Have fun.
As slow as this game moves, it sure has a lot of performance problems. I managed to
glitch it out within the first few minutes simply by jumping into a sign. The graphics are
wholly unimpressive and plagued by draw in. The game also has trouble with depth
perception. For the sake of being "extreme," there are places where you jump off
of ledges and free fall for incredible distances. This takes forever, and while you are
falling (and falling, and falling
) your shadow never changesit is exactly the
same size (way too big) at the height of your jump as it is (way too small) just before
touchdown. The sound offers little to get excited about. There are a few good songs, but
just as many bad ones, and they take forever to load, so there are long moments of silence
between cuts. Then there is that lackluster announcer whose dialogue splices are painfully
isnt enough, I have some minor issues with the presentation as well. First, the
opening movies spend more time showing the ski pros hanging around in a lodge toasting
each other than pulling off "mad trix" on the slopes. I suppose that should have
been a clue about the quality of the game. To take it further, the game menus are set in
the lodge where you scroll from a dart board, which represents Competition, to the jukebox
representing Options, to the pool table, and so on. It may be petty, but what does a pool
table have to do with any mode of game play in a skiing game? There is something to be
said for intelligent menu design. There is also something to be said for not insulting the
intelligence of your audience. In the game manual, under the heading "Freeski,"
they actually list the phonetic pronunciation of the word. Does anyone out there really
need help pronouncing this?
All nit-picks aside, I simply cannot recommend this game to anyone for any reason, not
even to fans of skiing and/or trick games. You could actually tape a couple of Popsicle
sticks to your fingertips and invent a game that is more fun than this. When you see Jonny
Moseley Mad Trix on the shelf at your local retail or rental store, do yourself a favor
and just keep walking.