MX vs. ATV Reflex First Hands-On

Rainbow Studios is back with its latest off-road racing game, and we've got a hands-on look.

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THQ and Rainbow Studios are preparing for another go in the dirt in the upcoming MX vs. ATV Reflex, the latest in the long-running off-road racing series. The big news this time around: an improved driving engine; bigger, more lush environments to explore; and a new control scheme that will make getting on the bike (or the ATV, or any of the other vehicles in the game), and staying on the bike, more fun than ever. We had a chance to see and play Reflex for the first time at THQ's pre-E3 press briefing in Los Angeles last week.

First up is the new engine that's powering Reflex. If you've played the MX vs. ATV series before, you're probably already familiar with Rainbow's "rhythm racing" style of off-road competition, which is defined by preloading jumps and the huge-air, trick-filled stunts that come as a result. Those same massive jumps are still in place in Reflex, but how the terrain affects (and is affected by) your bike and rider has changed significantly.

Perhaps the most important change is that your rider can now be independently controlled from his vehicle. By moving the right analog stick in any direction, you'll be able to shift your rider's weight anywhere on the bike or ATV. You can still preload a jump (by pressing down on the analog stick), but the ability to move left or right gives you more control than ever over your vehicle. Taking a hairpin corner, for example, by leaning into the turn will let you negotiate much tighter than you would be able to otherwise.

The MX vs. ATV series returns with Reflex, which will give more control than ever to players.

In addition to using the right stick to move your rider on your vehicle, you'll be flicking it to pull off midair tricks during Freestyle events, which looks to be a big improvement from the tedious and sometimes confusing button combinations from previous games. In addition, the right stick will provide you with a way to prevent yourself from wrecking when landing a huge jump, something that happened all too often in previous MX vs. ATV games. In Reflex, if you manage a dangerous landing, a green arrow will appear at one edge of the screen; if you flick the right stick in that direction with the correct timing, you'll save your bike and be able to keep going. You'll still lose a bit of momentum, since your rider must once again settle himself into the saddle, but it's definitely preferable to bailing completely.

During the demo of Reflex, two environments were shown. The first was an open-ended mountain range, which we got to explore extensively. While the upper elevations featured deep snow and ice to traverse, the lower parts of the course showed off a nice mixture of dirt and mud. In fact, in the muddy sections, we could see the tire treads forming deep grooves in the mud as we sped along or did doughnuts. Producers pointed out that those grooves aren't just cosmetic--they're dug into the ground, and your vehicle's tires and shocks will react accordingly when driving over them.

Producers also told us that dirt tossed up when cutting those muddy grooves actually goes somewhere, so in a motocross race, the dirt that is kicked up in hairpin turns will eventually build up mounds as the race progresses. This was especially noticeable in the second location shown in the demo, a motocross event set in Medford, Oregon. As the terrain changes on a motocross track, so too will your strategy as the laps pile up and new racing lines are cut into the tracks.

Freestyle events will still focus on your best tricks, only now the judges are looking at your overall performance as well.

As in the previous game in the series, MX vs. ATV Unleashed, Reflex will have interactive loading screens, which will let you take your vehicle around a freestyle course with huge jumps on which to practice your tricks. Much like the punch controls in EA's Fight Night boxing series, the tricks in Reflex will be controlled with flicks of the right stick, giving you a large variety of easily accessible tricks under your thumb. The trick-based freestyle events have also changed; they're not so reliant on linking tricks together as combos in order to increase a score multiplier. Instead, the freestyle event "judges" will grade your ability along such lines as technical difficulty, flow, and trick repetition. We'll have to see how this ends up affecting freestyle events, which, at least to our way of thinking, have traditionally been the weak points of the MX vs. ATV series.

We look forward to seeing what MX vs. ATV Reflex has in store for us in the coming months--especially in terms of online offerings and any other new event types. Producers are also being tight-lipped for now about the kinds of vehicles that you'll be able to tackle in the game, but we expect they'll be talking about all of this and more in the coming months. We'll be bringing you the latest as details come to light; expect our next look at the game to come during GameSpot's coverage of E3 2009.

Discussion

43 comments
nfs112
nfs112

ONE REASON I GOT A PS3 WAS THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JOEL984
JOEL984

looks like a pritty kick ass game, a definite on my list :)

JB2B
JB2B

I loved the demo of the previous one. Never really got the full game since I couldn't find it in stores here. But this one seems to be nice too, just hope it will allow at least 2 player splitscreen (I hope for 4-player splitscreen since I have a lot of friends wandering in and out my house as if I'm in a zombie game). This is one to keep in mind.

davidamos
davidamos

i hope there's a more extensive and more realistic supermoto in there, i love that sport more than moto X or atv...

antonisbob
antonisbob

no PS2?,good. PS2 to PS3 kind of games make the graphics as pretty as my anus

mruppel2
mruppel2

what... ps2????? at least, the game looks cool!

aceball69
aceball69

awesome, cant wait love the MX and ATV series.

McDog3
McDog3

Hopefully this one is better than the last. I'd like it to 'feel' more like Unleashed, which was an awesome game to me.

Finishing_SA_Qs
Finishing_SA_Qs

How come they never address the real issues? how come game makers NEVER realize that when their last game sucked, Dont keep trying to redeem yourself, simply take the game back to its roots. Anyone agree?

bebelosu
bebelosu

the game looks awesome .. to bad that it won't be for PC ..

ropumar
ropumar

I hate when they name a ps3/360 game equal to psp/ds. I doubt anything form the interviews or trailer was refering to the handhelds lol. The developer should have said the game is for ps3/360 and the psp and ds would get spin-off.

ger14
ger14

FINALLY, think this will be a good release. Untamed was horrible, Unleashed was the best (back then). This is looking amazing so far. My fav part so far is "Producers also told us that dirt tossed up when cutting those muddy grooves actually goes somewhere, so in a motocross race, the dirt that is kicked up in hairpin turns will eventually build up mounds as the race progresses" im gonna track this one for sure!!!!!

splodge200
splodge200

not on ps2??? the death of ps2 approaches.

walts7599
walts7599

loved unleashed and this looks pretty awesome, but really hope that they fix the physics, felt like you're riding on the moon

DA_SHREDDER
DA_SHREDDER

They left out voice chat for the ps3 version of untamed in 07, I vowed to never buy another product from these guys again. I have a 360 and I should never have another issue with that again, but still they ripped me off and I hold grudges for a very long time. I would rather play Motorstorm pacific rift, Fuel, Pure, NFS shift, Midnight club LA, Wipeout HD, GT5, and Forza 3, oh yeah, and Split second before I waste my time on this crap.

dx9498
dx9498

i really really hope they fix the sound of the bikes they sucked in untamed, hope they bring back endurocross, and am looking forward to the body control thing it will make it more realistic, btw i practice motocross

Zerot
Zerot

YES YES YES YES YES @*#*@ YES! the rider and bike controlls could be epic or could backfire horrably track deformation and more realistic physics will bring supercross laptimes to a whole new competetive racing level.

boxofwit
boxofwit

I hope it's better than Untamed, it was a big let down for me.

rift_zone
rift_zone

I love my motocross but thought the last few mx vs atv games were getting a bit too stale. Hopefully this game will offer a breath of fresh air.

JJS29
JJS29

Hopefully they have better vehicle sounds this time around! Too bad there's still no licensed vehicles. Only ATV Offroad Fury 1 had them!

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

I will honestly say that I have not played any games in this series but this game looks really good. Not quite sure about the control of the body with the right stick but it will more then likely work well. ***runs to store to look for older version of games to catch up***

wutup8654
wutup8654

It looks promising, i have been a fan since mx unleashed. I have been looking forward to real track deformation.

Slaterwccc
Slaterwccc

Looks killer! i hope the controls are up there with the likes of MX vs. ATV Unleashed...MX vs. ATV: Untamed controls lacked!

MayorJohnny
MayorJohnny

I'm really looking forward to this game! I'm a big fan of the series! :D

Pete5506
Pete5506

Good news, I loved the older games

speedfreak48t5p
speedfreak48t5p

It's good to know that they are not just releasing the same game over again, but actually changing up the core gameplay and using a brand new engine as well. Looks great!

nickdastick
nickdastick

Yeah, I can't wait for this game! Rainbow Studios has always done a great job of making fun and accessible off road games. This game looks to really take the series to a new level.

chinchilla177
chinchilla177

ooh sounds good. i was a huge fan of mx unleashed, the first one. mx vs atv took the series downhill, i thought. i hope they keep the feel back how it was on the first game