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MX vs ATV Untamed (PSP) artwork

MX vs ATV Untamed (PSP) review


"Some of the events are minutely tuned to keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Often, you finish the timed events with only seconds to spare, and the races are challenging, pushing you to the limit in order to beat the other riders. Luckily, the frustration is lessened somewhat by the game's free roaming aspect, which allows you to take a breather at any time, ride around, do some tricks, jump onto buildings, whatever you want. But it's really just kind of delaying the inevitable. Even with these little flickers of excitement, the objectives themselves are somewhat repetitive as well, and you just get to do them all again from zone to zone."



Motocross is an intense sport. There aren't many people who put their body on the line in quite the way they do, hanging precariously off of their vehicle in a way that would break multiple limbs if they don't make it back on. I've always had a strong opinion about those people. They're crazy.

Not that crazy is bad, there's a certain part of me that wants to do that too, though usually he's quickly squashed by the part of me that doesn't like medical bills. Luckily there are video games.

As usual, picking your rider comes first. There are a number of named riders to choose from, and judging by the short bio accompanying them, they probably are real people licensed for the game. However, those people like me who don't avidly follow the sport will be content to just go with "Male rider". You can customize his colors and such, and then it's time to hit the trail. Except, instead of a trail it's more of a giant sandbox environment to play around in.

Each of the game's zones are large areas that have some obstacles to avoid, a number of things to jump off of and a number of gateways to the actual challenges, the meat of the game.

Unfortunately, they're still just big, mostly empty, zones. And the novelty of being allowed freedom wears off quickly because basically you have a lot of freedom to do very little.

Still, no matter which event you choose first, the chance to ride around the zone beforehand helps a lot, because you can familiarize yourself with the terrain beforehand. It takes some of the trial and error out of events like 'collect these flags randomly strewn about the zone'.

Not that you won't have to retry them a few times anyway. Some of the events are minutely tuned to keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Often, you finish the timed events with only seconds to spare, and the races are challenging, pushing you to the limit in order to beat the other riders. Luckily, the frustration is lessened somewhat by the game's free roaming aspect, which allows you to take a breather at any time, ride around, do some tricks, jump onto buildings, whatever you want. But it's really just kind of delaying the inevitable. Even with these little flickers of excitement, the objectives themselves are somewhat repetitive as well, and you just get to do them all again from zone to zone.

One bright point, though, when it comes to variation is that there's more to this game than trading in your dirt bike for a bigger dirt bike, only to inevitably do it again. In fact, most of the vehicles aren't motorcycles at all, and this was one of the best things about the game. The ATV implied by the title is there, but there are some surprises, like the snowmobile. Even if they seem like a totally aesthetic change, there's a certain thrill to doing backflips in a golf cart, and they do handle differently enough to make them unique. The ability to go, "Today, I want to take the monster truck out." adds a bit of longevity to the game, allowing you to replay old zones in completely new ways.

In the end, it all feels like a half hearted attempt to stave off the inevitable doldrums. Untamed's fun moments are quickly swallowed up by a tide of emptiness. Whereas motocross is crazy, MX vs. ATV Untamed is a little too sane. And no matter how much you love this kind of thing, it's hard to take away the fact that the game is just...bland. It's not really that the game puts forth bad ideas, or has poor execution, it's more like there just wasn't enough time to polish it, so everything is just kind of this big empty nothing.

Still, if you're looking for a decent rally/offroading game on the go, you could do worse. I can't quite bring myself to say the game is bad. Just that it's not fantastic.

Rating: 6/10

dragoon_of_infinity's avatar
Freelance review by Josh Higley (January 15, 2008)

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