MX vs. ATV Alive Hands-On Preview - Bar Banging

We get physical in this latest installment in the MX vs. ATV series.

Competing in professional motorsports seems like a terrifying venture. Luckily, for those of us who like to keep our bones intact, the MX vs. ATV series has allowed us to sample the excitement from the safety of our television set. Together with Elliot Olson, senior game designer at developer THQ, we hit the track and went hands-on to find out what's new in the latest entry of this off-road racing series.

With Alive, THQ is taking some of the focus off first place. Sure, getting the number one spot is nice--especially when you get to rub your buddy's face in it--but coming in fourth or fifth will net you something as well. That's where the experience points come in. No matter where you race, what you do, or how you place, you'll always be completing challenges and unlocking points. You can then spend these points on new parts for your vehicle, outfits for your character, new tracks to race on, and more.

The outfits are purely cosmetic, but the parts can be used to tweak the performance of your ride. To give yourself even more of an edge in the race, Alive also features a list of rider skills for you to unlock and use with your racer. You can equip up to two skills at a time, which can help you take more hits before wiping out or provide bonuses to the experience points you gain.

Being able to take some extra punishment is important since Alive had us getting a little more physical with the other racers than we've seen in other games. As Olson pointed out, in the previous MX vs. ATV games, you never wanted to touch any of the other racers. If you bumped up against somebody, you were more likely to end up face down in the mud than anything else. Now you have some leeway to bang bars with the other contestants and focus more on the race rather than respecting other people's personal space.

Don't be afraid to rub elbows with the other racers.

Even if you're not knocking your buddies off their bikes, newcomers to the MX vs. ATV series may be nervous about wiping out in their first races. However, with this racing series, Olson noted that the developers have always tried to find a balance between accessibility and authenticity. And while these two categories aren't mutually exclusive, they often cater to two very different groups. Alive doesn't have any flying turtle shells or cartoon banana peels, but the game's handling still seems forgiving enough that even new riders should be able to get the hang of things quickly. And like with the other games in the series, Alive looks like an authentic off-road racer, complete with screaming motorcycles, muddy tracks, and painful-looking wrecks.

We had fun during our brief time on the track. The reflex stick from the previous game is back, and using it while popping the brakes to make a near-90-degree turn while sliding through the mud was exciting. The game was easy to jump into, thanks in part to the jump and cornering assists, and although we came in fifth place, the game made sure our other achievements were at the forefront.

After our less-than-stellar performance, Olson took us on a tour of one of the game's short tracks. These smaller venues are designed to distill all of the motorsport's carnage and chaos down into a few lethal laps. Right away the figure-eight track he had selected turned into a battleground as his character fought to break past his opponents in front. At the same time, he also had to avoid the racers behind him when the track looped back on itself..

As you race, the tracks will degrade and become even more treacherous in spots.

After that, we decided it was time for a break. To help us relax, we loaded up a massive sand dune in the game's free ride mode and practiced our jumps and midair stunts. If you think you've got what it takes to be the next Tony Hawk on a motorbike, you can enter Freestyle Jam. This mode actives a 60-second timer and tracks how many points you can rack up in that time performing tricks. Afterward, you can hop on the leaderboard and see how you stack up against your friends. Whatever your calling, you can check on MX vs. ATV Alive on May 10 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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9 comments
DavidJF
DavidJF

Never bought one of these games but always wanted too. I think this time I have to buy it.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Have enjoyed all the titles in this series and am looking forward to this one :D

mxgod
mxgod

Oh yea.. and what ever happened to letting us make our own tracks.. like in MCM2 where you could make a track in Photoshop (setting the hieght levels with greys and blacks), then inport it to armadilla and set nodes and 3d objects... Why can't they do that for Ps3 let us make some tracks on the computer and import them to the game. Sersiously... everyone has a computer what are they affraid of? making better tracks than they do.. oh yea thats right.. we ALWAYS do.

mxgod
mxgod

He keeps saying the game will have shorter tracks.. in reflex the tracks were not an unrealistic length I've been on tracks IRL longer than were in that game.. Does this mean every track is going to be shorter and istead have more laps??? and there is a amount of realism you want in a game.. realistic riding yes.. but short tracks?? I would of loved if they would put like a super realistic trail riding (Hairscramble) with some really crazy terrain for a change.. For people that like Unleashed.. yes that game was fun but more casual. Reflex is much closer to real riding. Still needs improving but hopefully this one will take it a step farther. I really hope they kept the terrain deformation. (looks like they may have) Also hope they fixed the 1st person view.

smp13
smp13

Sounds excellent. Positives: -More forgiving with contacting others, should mean less crashes when people cant hold their line. -Free roam 'Freestyle Jams' sound like they can be activated anywhere. Love this sort of feature, free roam stunts are awesome. -Shorter tracks included sound fun and exciting. -Reflex stick returns. Concerns: -Online play - encouraging contact between riders won't work too well unless they can improve the in-game online performance. -"Jump and cornering assists" - I don't like the sound of them, hopefully they can be turned off. And hopefully they won't be so good as to make riders who use it go faster than those who are skilled at riding without it.

dalua360
dalua360

@CheyneStokes agree! Unleashed was the best!

CheyneStokes
CheyneStokes

Ever since Untamed the series seemed to be just different and not as addicting as unleashed :( I love this series too much to see it slip

unimaginable
unimaginable

unleashed was good.. so am hoping this 1 to be good too...

lanmanna
lanmanna

I liked MX vs. ATV Unleashed.