MX vs ATV Legends Review | Off Track

In 2005, Rainbow Studios, THQ, and Beenox brought MX and ATV together in MX vs ATV Unleashed. I remember playing that game on my friend's PlayStation 2 as a kid and although I personally didn't like muddy racers (as I like to call them), I had good times hanging out and playing Unleashed with friends. Simpler times. However, I haven't played another game in the series since, so seeing a new entry now got me curious about how much has changed. The last game, MX vs ATV All Out, was released in 2018 by developer Rainbow Studios and publisher THQ Nordic and, judging by the "Mostly Positive" Steam ratings, it seems that All Out was a hit and they're back with Legends in hopes of building on that success.

MX vs ATV Legends is an off-road racing game that lets you get down and dirty in your selection of motorbikes, ATVs, and UTVs. All of which you can customize along with your rider. The game features small open-world environments that you can explore between races to get some practice, jump for collectibles, or get tutorial missions in the early hours, but the real content lies within the career and trails modes. In career mode, you race to get sponsorship opportunities and the chance to participate in special invitationals. The focus is really on the motocross here, though all three types are given a lengthy career mode for you to race through. In trails, you and your friends are dropped into one of the maps with the goal of being the first to the finish. The catch is that there's no set path. You can ride how you please on your way to the finish line.

If you're wondering why you are three paragraphs into a review without hearing an opinion, that's because I wanted to get the basic information about the game out of the way before I started to critique it. So now, let's talk about what I think about MX vs ATV Legends. More specifically, why I think it is unfinished in its current state. The game has muddy textures (and I'm not just talking about the mud), frequent glitches during gameplay, and finicky physics that spoil the experience. I would still recommend you read the full review though because there's more I have to say than can be summed up in that one phrase. And, before you do so, keep in mind that I played the game on the Xbox Series X.

MX vs ATV Legends Review

Let's start with the graphics, which are not great. In a racing game, the maps don't always have to be super high quality because the player is ideally moving too much and too fast to notice, but the wide-open compound map (which can look fine from a distance) lets you really see the low-resolution textures, jittering, and general dullness of the map. During the actual races, there's a ton of pop-in as bushes just phase into existence a few feet in front of you. This is especially noticeable on the snowy tracks. And I know that the story isn't really the main focus of a game like this, but it's really disappointing to see such stiff animations on the NPCs who just stand there like a rock as you talk to them. Talking to them isn't as easy as it sounds either because interacting with NPCs requires you to be at a particular point and distance from them before the prompt to begin the conversation appears on your screen.

Then there are the glitches, which show up almost everywhere. The menus bug out constantly as I tried to spend my hard-earned money from races to customize my vehicle or rider and that's only when the menus load properly in the first place. Oftentimes, I would click on a button, be it the garage or the restart event option when I fall behind on a race for some reason, and I find that the game takes a shockingly long time to carry out seemingly simple requests. In the compound, where you are tasked with talking to your team to progress the career mode, the rider and the vehicle vibrate and sway as if you're still in a race physically while listening to the NPC talk about follower counts.

Those frustrations also carry over to the race thanks to the physics engine. Rainbow Studios said that they refined the physics system for Legends and veteran players might find more of an improvement compared to previous games, but as someone who previously put a lot of time into racers like Riders Republic, I found there to be unusual bugs that ruined several races for me. There was one instance in a race where I landed on another rider after a jump and he sort of just carried me down the track on his hip before dropping me. Another had me lose all my momentum when a pebble of some sort made my bike come to an abrupt stop in the middle of the race. I won't belabor the point more, but I have several clips on my Xbox hard drive with even more examples.

MX vs ATV Legends Review

The next thing I want to say is something I am fairly certain is a bug and it is a big oversight if it is so. When starting a race, most players expect a simple "red light, yellow light, green light, go" prompt to kick off the race, or, at the very least, a series of beeps to get the same message across. In this game, there is none. I went through settings, I restarted the game, and I have not gotten this to work. I actually thought this was a feature of the MX vs ATV series that I forgot about, but when I went back and watched MX vs ATV All Out gameplay, I saw the signal front and center at the start of the race. I really have no idea why or how this is a thing, but having to guess when the gates will drop at the start of a race is not a fun feature to me.

I can keep going on about my frustrations with the game, from long loading screens to game crashes, but I digress. I do also want to mention that MX vs ATV Legends, still has the inherent tension that comes from being a racing game. When you aren't running into bugs or noticing the pop-in, the races can get pretty intense. I put quite a few hours into the game despite all my above-listed problems with it and not all were because I felt I had to give the proper time before sitting down for a review. I had some fun racing through the career modes with a nice podcast or YouTube video going in the background. (On a side note, the game has licensed music that plays as you race, and, putting aside my own musical tastes, the music is terribly mixed, leading to the abrupt cuts in songs or odd fades like you're listening to a DJ who just got new equipment.) The fan count, which is used to gatekeep different events, works in making you want to replay the levels to rank better. And, when the menus actually load properly, upgrading your vehicle and taking it for a test drive around the compound in first-person is great. It's just unfortunate that the fun factor here is so often bogged down by everything else.

To tie it all together, MX vs ATV Legends doesn't hold up to AAA quality, but at the same time, it's important to notice that the game is $40, so it's not asking for the same price of entry. I still do not recommend MX vs ATV Legends for new players, however. As I look at the game now, open on my other screen while I finish this review just minutes before the embargo lifts, and see the landscape of the compound shaking as my character plays out an imaginary race in his head (all without me touching my controller might I add) I am forced to say that there are much better racers out there, for the same price or lower. If you are a fan of the MX series, then I would say you might have some fun in this game, assuming you're going in with managed expectations, but still, only pick it up if you've exhausted the content in the previous games. MX vs ATV Legends is out tomorrow on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. A review code was provided by the publisher.

MX vs ATV Legends | 5 | Mediocre

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