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MX vs ATV Untamed (PlayStation 2) artwork

MX vs ATV Untamed (PlayStation 2) review


"There seem to be scores of cookie-cutter ATV racing games to choose from these days, all of them involving taking the four-wheelers through winding, bumpy courses, endeavouring to both win races and earn big points for pulling stunts along the way. Untamed adds motorbikes (and a few other novelty vehicles) to the mix, in the hopes of spicing things up."



Amazing, isn’t it, how a game can be so much less than the sum of its parts? MX vs ATV Untamed offers multiple hardcore racing vehicles (as the title would seem to suggest), death defying stunts, real-life superstar riders and a score comprised of tracks performed by real-life superstar artists. It’s also not an easy game by any means – I point that out, because if all the above fail, at least rock hard difficulty should help keep you tuned in.

And yet, it doesn’t.

And that’s because Untamed is about as bland as a game can get. It’s not offensively bad in any one area, but its nondescript personality is so featureless as to be offensive. Indeed, I found it a supreme challenge to put the disc in my PS2, close the lid, and actually allow the thing to load.

There seem to be scores of cookie-cutter ATV racing games to choose from these days, all of them involving taking the four-wheelers through winding, bumpy courses, endeavouring to both win races and earn big points for pulling stunts along the way. Untamed adds motorbikes (and a few other novelty vehicles) to the mix, in the hopes of spicing things up.

While nothing is actually spiced up by this move, there is some initial excitement at taking on the same old frustratingly unintuitive courses, motocross style. Sadly, what this amounts to is the bikes – which feel decidedly flimsy – doing an even better job of crashing into barricades and overshooting jumps into turn signs than do the ATV’s.

That being said, if you choose an ATV, or a mini-bike, or any other off-roader on offer, you’ll still crash early and often. The courses seem to be designed so that you don’t know what’s around the corner, or over the next hill. It could be that the camera, and not the courses, is the culprit, but I don’t think the game deserves that level of investigation from me.

Anyway, rather than challenge the player by demanding quick decisions and even quicker reflexes, Untamed expects their courses to be memorized for success to be achieved. They’ve lent a hand by forcing you to play each race twice on the exact same uninspired track in order to advance to the next. Only your frequent collisions will interrupt your oncoming slumber. It all begs the question: which is worse, the way the courses bore, or the way they kill?

Adding insult to injury are the computer controlled racers, who won’t have any of the same challenges which you face. Luckily, you can choose to race your friend or family member or family pet to level the playing field. Or else you can decrease the skill of the in-game opposition to give yourself a fighting chance. Incredibly, despite the slippery feel, as of a cyclist taking corners on a sheet of ice, you don’t actually get the impression that you’re moving along quickly. I’m not sure how they’ve managed this, but it’s something else.

I dislike Untamed, quite a bit. If they had worked at accomplishing something notable here, even if it had failed spectacularly, at the very least it would have left us with some definite impression. Derisive laughter perhaps, but to get there requires more involvement than with yawns. As it is, the game raises a blank countenance in a racing genre filled with familiar and welcome faces, and this point is exacerbated by the hardcore nature of the subgenre being explored. Untamed is white bread with no spread. It’s not really not abysmal... but why bother?

Rating: 4/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 27, 2008)

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