THQ gave Rainbow Studios a year off in 2008, as the publisher's long-running MX vs. ATV off-road racing franchise was sidelined in favor of 2XL's Baja: Edge of Control. The same will not be the case in 2009, however, because THQ today confirmed that Rainbow Studios will return with MX vs. ATV Reflex on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP, and DS this holiday season.
Rainbow Studios has used its year off to make a number of changes under the hood of its MX vs. ATV series. Reflex offers a renovated driving engine that sees deforming terrain affect the handling and control of vehicles. Environments have also been expanded upon, with players being given the chance to rip through the mud and grime of canyons as well as the slippery slopes of imposing mountain ranges.
The developer has also reworked MX vs. ATV's trick system. Whereas in past years players were tasked with often unwieldy button presses to perform tricks, Reflex introduces a thumbstick control for performing airborne acrobatics. The thumbstick control will also affect individual riders, who can now move independently of their vehicles.
THQ has yet to reveal vehicles that will be included in MX vs. ATV Reflex. However, more information on the game is expected at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which takes place June 1-4 in Los Angeles. For more information, check out GameSpot's first hands-on with the off-road racer.