What do backflips, can-cans, tabletops, catwalks, and heal clickers have in common? If you said some form of gymnastic square dancing on tables at a construction site then you would be wrong. But, if you said freestyle motocross then you were right on the money, and if you are into motocross or extreme sports games then you will probably enjoy Activision’s latest offering, MTX: Mototrax.MTX: Mototrax takes the major forms of competition available to dirt bike riders and combines them into one Tony Hawk Pro Skater style game. You get to compete in motocross, supercross, and freestyle events in single-player, two-player split-screen, and up to four-player LAN or Internet broadband only games. MTX: Mototrax also offers single-player free ride levels that let you challenge other dirt bikers in remote locales. The single-player Career mode allows you to create a character and progress through motocross, supercross, freestyle, and free ride levels gaining points, money, tricks, stages, unlockable movies, sponsors, and apparel along the way.
You can choose to take one path through one certain type of career or you can jump back and forth between motocross, supercross, freestyle, and free ride game modes. Just to clarify, motocross mode is made up of longer, smoother, outdoor tracks, supercross contains smaller stadium tracks, freestyle has you performing tricks off ramps like at the X Games, and free ride has you racing, finding items, performing tricks, and other things after talking to people located throughout the area who give you your objectives.
The game also features Exhibition mode, which allows you to practice by racing any of the tracks using one of the pro bike riders, included in the game with no affect on your Career mode. There are 13 professional MX riders to choose from in MTX: Mototrax including Travis Pastrana, Carey Hart, Chad Reed, Tommy Clowers, Kenny Bartram, Jamie Dobb and more. The last race mode available is Ghost mode, which gives you the opportunity to race any of the tracks while recording your path so you can race against it for practice.
MTX: Mototrax also offers a decent track builder mode that allows you to build your own tracks to race when you get bored with the default ones available in the game. This is a nice feature and adds extra replay value to the game, since there are seemingly endless tracks you can race on as long as you don’t mind making them yourself.
Racing on the tracks does take some skill and you will have to learn when to compress the shocks to hit the jumps just right and how to hold in the clutch to get a speed boost out of the turns. But, once you figure everything out you will find that MTX: Mototrax is a fast and enjoyable game. The controls are well designed and laid out nicely and I had no problem getting used to them. If you are familiar with the control scheme in games like Tony Hawk Pro Skater then you will feel right at home with MTX: Mototrax. Pulling off tricks in freestyle mode requires you to push a certain way on the control pad and the triangle and circle buttons one or more times. I would not recommend using the analog stick for freestyle mode, since it is almost impossible to pull-off the harder tricks consistently with it. The controls seem to feel natural after a while but it is still sometimes hard for me to pull-off or time the tricks right in freestyle mode but maybe you won’t have the same problem.
Speaking of problems, the biggest problem I have with the game is the selection of music. They recruited some metal and punk bands for the soundtrack including Slipknot, Metallica, The Misfits, Dope, Faith No More, Black Label Society, III Nino, and others but a lot of the songs are not that good and they got on my nerves. Granted, I don’t like every song on the Tony Hawk’s Underground soundtrack but at least most of them are decent and even though it is an extreme sports game it has more music variety. You cannot tell me that every single motocross rider only listens to metal and punk music. I don’t understand why they didn’t include some other styles of music to appeal to more people. I really wanted to turn my own music on while playing the game, but because I was reviewing it I figured I needed to listen to it even though it was irritating.
The sound effects in the game are good and the standard dirt bike muffler sound is in full effect. You can also hear the dirt slide underneath your tires as you fly around the corners at high-speeds and the crowd cheering when you pull off a cool trick. There are not that many sound effects in MTX: Mototrax, but it has the ones that are expected in a dirt bike racing game.
Another thing expected in a racing game is high-speed action and MTX: Mototrax doesn’t disappoint. The graphics move at a steady 60 frames per second and only slow down for a few seconds if there is a lot of bikes on the screen. The game also runs just as fast in two-player split-screen mode which is very nice. The character and bike models are detailed and you can easily see your new apparel and bike color scheme changes when you upgrade. The backgrounds are also decent and diverse having you race and performing tricks at locations like Los Angeles, Daytona, Phoenix, Atlanta, Hawaii, Australia, Pacific Hills, a rock quarry, the Everglades, and more. MTX: Mototrax also has a first person view that allows you to really see what it is like to do a backflip on a motorcycle with everything spinning around you. The first person view also shows your bike bouncing around the track as you race the other competitors. This is a nice feature that is well done. First person view doesn’t allow you to see all the tricks you are pulling off but does give you more of the real on the bike experience.
Online play in MTX Mototrax is a little disappointing, not because of the quality of the connection or gameplay speed, but because there weren’t that many people online to play against the few times I went online. I think the most people I saw online at the same time was 16 people making a total of 4 games with 4 players in each. I expected to see more people online since the game was just released. If there is only a limited amount of people online now then what will online play be like in a few months?
MTX: Mototrax is a fun and challenging game that has you performing a variety of different activities that keeps the game fresh. The graphics look decent and move at a steady frame-rate in single or multiplayer modes. The music got on my nerves and the online play didn’t have as many people online as I expected, but if you are into extreme sports games or motocross games you should enjoy MTX: Mototrax.
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