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MX vs. ATV Unleashed Review

MX vs. ATV Unleashed
Rainbow Studios
Xbox Live:

MX vs. ATV Unleashed  
Saturday, April 09, 2005 

Not everybody enjoys the street racing videos games such as Need for Speed, and Street Racing Syndicate, where you are speeding down crowed streets and trying to show off your hip looking car. MX vs. ATV Unleashed is quite a different racing and freestyle game from these popular street racing games. However, just because it is not a street racing game, doesn't mean you can't enjoy it as much, even if you enjoy the street racing games. MX vs. ATV is all about going off the street and onto the brown dirt with your motor bike, ATV, dune buggy, or maybe even a monster truck, or an off road golf cart!


MX vs. ATV Unleashed has two main forms of gameplay. The first being the racing mode, where you will race around the outdoors competing with other artificial (computer) opponents. Freestyle is where you can really show off to your friends watching, or if you have none, the computers will get to see all your style. After choosing either racing or freestyle, there are a large number of different gameplay types within each category that will have you playing the game for quite a long time. MX vs. ATV also has multiplayer, if you want to play with another friend on the same Xbox, and full Xbox Live support, so you can always jump online, and find someone that is willing to take you on.

Although in a game like this, racing on some dirt with a few ramps here and there may not sound that fun, but once you start playing through the numerous racing types, and vehicles, you will begin to enjoy it. Races usually consist of a number of laps and the main point, or course, is to finish the race before any of your opponents can. However, there is nothing stopping you from pulling off some neat tricks to get a few extra points. The points will be tallied, but won't help you win the race. Also, if you are really good (or extremely bad) at the races, you can adjust the difficulty of the opponents so they can keep up with you, or you can keep up with them.

Some unique forms of racing are the Waypoint racing, and the Hill Climb races. Waypoint racing are where you are set on a vast area to race around to different points in the area as fast as you can. The waypoints consist of two poles, and you have to drive (or fly) over them. You can't skip waypoints and have to pass completely through them in order to go through the next way point. If you beat all of your opponents through the waypoints, you will win the race. The hill climb is by far one of the craziest gameplay types in the game. You race against a few other people up an insanely steep hill. Many times in which, you don't always make it to the top! It is actually quite fun when nobody can make it to the top of the hill, or when everyone gets pilled into another, and you all end up rolling down the hill. However, by using the clutch on your vehicle correctly, you can easily have the upper hand and avoid this pile ups and get to the top faster.

MX vs. ATV has a neat trick system that is built into the game. At first you won't really be able to do much, but as you learn from testing things out, or viewing the tutorials, you will be able to progress, slowly, but surely into more complex stunts.

The two most difficult tricks in the game are the back flip and the three sixty flip, where instead of flipping upside down, you rotate a full 360 degrees and then land. However, pulling off crazy stunts like these is very difficult and things need to be done before you even leave the ground. In order to maximize your air time, you need to preload your suspension. This means to get your suspension ready to give you enough spring type lift at the top of the ramp. You do this by pressing down at the bottom of the ramp, and then quickly pressing up at the top, or lip, of the ramp. This will give you enough air to perform these crazy kinds of tricks. If they are done correctly and on the right kind of ramp you should not have any problem. However, for the two tricks listed above, you have to actually hold the right trigger and up at the bottom of the ramp, and down at the top of the ramp to pull off the trick. If you are new to this game, you won't be doing back flips anytime soon, it will take some getting used to. Once you are in the air you can perform a number of different tricks based on what buttons and directions you press. The longer you hold the last button in the trick, the longer you will hold the trick in the air, and the higher your points will be. For some tricks such as the no-hander, you can actually land still holding the trick if you are extremely careful. You can also perform multiple tricks in the air, but in doing this you have to be careful, because there is no way to cancel a trick if you don't have time to perform it.

The physics of how your bike or vehicle reacts to the dirt, ramps, and even other riders is truly realistic. You have to be careful to stick every landing perfectly, or you could easily be flung off your bike. You also have to make sure you are not about to land on anybody, or somebody is about to land on you, or you could fall off of your bike as well. Also, the way you take certain turns, such as riding the whole turn out, or going into it and then taking a sharp turn around can really give you the edge in the race if you know what you are doing. There are a number of tutorials in the game that will teach you the basics of riding and performing stunts if you need them.

The controls of the game are pretty easy to use, but most people will probably have to change the controls from the defaults, to their likings. First of all, gas and brake are A and X. Although this is not really a problem, it is always more comfortable to use the triggers as gas and break. However, luckily there are a number of preset controller options that allow you to change the buttons to use the triggers as gas and break. Here is a list of the default controls while you are playing the game (excluding airplanes or helicopters)

A Button - gas
X Button - brake
B Button - trick 1
Y Button - trick 2
Left Trigger - clutch
Right Trigger - trick modifier
Right Thumbstick - rotate camera
Up, Down - preload suspension or shift rider
Left/Right - steer
A Button + X Button - reverse
L Trigger + R Trigger - reset vehicle
White - look back
Black - dynamic camera angle
Select - change camera
Start - start menu

Another unique aspect about MX vs ATV Unleashed is how the track boundaries work in the game. Of course there is a track that you are not supposed to go off of, but when the terrain varies so much and so does the track, it is easy to veer off of the course. Because of this, once you go off of the marked track, it will give you five seconds to get back on. If you are not back on within five seconds, your vehicle will restart from where it went off the track. However, you can not use this to your advantage. You can not skip way ahead on the track, even if you are not off of the course for more than five seconds. If you happen to cut a section of the course like this where you come back on the course way ahead of everyone else, you will be reset all the way back to where you came off the course.

If you are able to finish a race without veering to far off the course, you will usually be rewarded with a number of prizes. Most of the time it is something that you can wear while riding, such as a jersey, boots, or helmet, but you can also win things such as new bikes. The better you do in the race or event, the better prizes you will win. You will also be able to unlock new levels and tracks by winning certain races or tournaments.

One annoying part of this game is how you have to save. A few times I have won a good number of races and got pretty far in the game and the next time I started up my game, to my surprise, none of it saved. There is no auto save after every race you do (excluding in the championships) so you always have to be careful what you do before you turn off the game. In most cases you have to back all the way out to the main menu, go into your profile, and then make sure the game is saved. This actually becomes pretty annoying despite the fact that you only have to do it once every time you play.


The overall graphics are nice, clean, and appealing, but they definitely could be more detailed, and realistic. The player models and vehicle models are well done, and look excellent if you are using a close camera to play the game. The dirt looks alright, but nothing too special. The marks from other riders, and some muddy parts look pretty cool, however parts where there is a little water on the track don't look so good. The scenery such as the trees and objects in the distant (not on the track) are pretty plain, and more time could have been put into them to spice up the game. Nevertheless, the game is still fun to play even though the graphics are not the best the Xbox has seen.


Luckily, the audio in the game is much better than the graphics. The soundtrack of the game is great, and is appropriate for this type of game. If a race gets way to long, and you are getting board with it, the audio will keep you entertained enough to finish the race, instead of just pressing the power button. Some of the music groups featured in this game are Papa Roach, Powerman 5000, Nickelback, Mudmen, Authority Zero, and others. Besides the soundtrack, the sound effects in the game were alright, but nothing spectacular. They could have been more sound effects, are really the only one that you seem to hear, or stand out is the sound of your engine.


MX vs. ATV Unleashed is really a game worth trying, even if you prefer the street racing type games. The gameplay is amazingly fun and won't get boring quickly. There are a large number of different gameplay types as well as vehicles. Race after race the unlockables will start to pile up, and that means more stuff to do and play with. The graphics are not the best, but shouldn't stop you from at least trying the game out. The soundtrack is great, and will keep you entertained if you are way ahead of the racing pack and have nothing better to do besides try out some new tricks. If you get board with the single player, you can always go online and take on a couple of people. Overall, the game is really worth your money, and worth a try. It is something different and maybe it is time you tried something a little different.

Overall Score

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