It seems like only yesterday everyone was complaining that there were too many “extreme” sports titles on the market, and for the past few months, it seems our pleas of “give us a break” were headed by publishers. But alas, that lovely break is ending, as we now have MX vs. ATV Unleashed: On the Edge, which is a strong competitor for longest name in game industry history, and a strong competitor for the “is this necessary?” award of 2006. MX vs. ATV, for those uninitiated to THQ’s perennialextreme sports series, promises to let players “Choose from a multitude of rides including ATV’s, monster trucks, sand rails and more, and tear through miles of open terrain in the ultimate quest to conquer the off-road.” In this goal, they’ve succeeded, the game does what it promises, it’s just that after a short while, it slides down the bell curve of fun and slips right into boredom.
MX is pretty much a slimmed down port of the console games within the MX series – setting you up with a variety of off-road vehicle and having you zip around a variety of tracks, pulling stunts and crashing, a lot. The vehicles are typical off-road stuff, big motorbikes, Four-wheel ATV’s, etc, and they handle pretty well, especially considering the control limitations of the PSP. There’s a decent array of tricks available right from the start, which is frankly a good thing, since the racing itself is fairly un-challenging. AI racers are pretty dense and easy to beat, their only defense against you is the game’s penchant for taking the simplest crash and making it a nightmare for you to recover from. The tricks, while plentiful, are typically nothing more than slight variations on one another, and they’re all pretty easy to pull off, thus negating any sense of accomplishment you might get from pulling a big move. The game’s real saving grace are the outdoor tracks, as the indoor ones are simply the same collection of jumps and bumps, only spaced differently.
Visually, MX vs. ATV Unleashed is slightly above average on the PSP, with respectable graphics for the player and his ride. Interior environments are, as in reality, covered in a palette of brown. It tires the eyes after an hour as you try to discern riders from one another and the environment. The sound fares slightly worse, with most vehicles sounding like go karts or overpowered sewing machines.
MX vs. ATV Unleashed does a respectable job of bringing action sports to the PSP, but it fails to deliver on excitement, which is a requirement for any extreme sports game. Not a bad game, but not a great one either, and probably most suited to only fans of off-road racing on two wheels (and sometimes four).
- Gameplay: 7
- Basic off-road racing with solid controls but a too-simple AI
- Graphics: 8
- Above average, but not exactly stunning
- Sound: 6
- When sewing machines go bad
- Replay: 6
- If you like off-road extreme sports, you’ll probably find plenty to do here. Everyone else will tire of it quickly.
- Overall: 7
- A respectable attempt at bringing the MX series to handhelds.