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By: Jason Giacchino

December 2009 - Off The Pegs

MX vs. ATV Reflex

MX vs. ATV Reflex: Another Strong Reason to Stay Indoors this Winter

Oh, no! Talk about the double whammy. Not only is the weather turning foul enough to keep riders around the nation off their quads and indoors, THQ has to go and drop what could perhaps be the greatest ATV racing game to date. I’m talking about MX vs. ATV: Reflex in case you haven’t already figured; the latest in their long-running franchise with roots that can be traced back to the mid 1990’s.

Of course, the performance-ATV segment has undergone radical change since those days and honestly, video game console technology hasn’t been sitting idle, either! This latest game will be available just in time for the holidays for the Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft X-Box 360, and on the portables- Sony PSP and Nintendo DS.

While I don’t have the game yet, I was able to spend some time with the demo, and here’s a little bit of what gamers have to look forward to:

1) Rider Reflex Control

Perhaps the biggest change from previous MX vs. ATV releases happens to be the control system itself. Gone are the days of simply pressing buttons like a madman to pull off tricks in the air. Instead players hold down a button (called the “stunt modifier” here) and literally tap the control sticks to control the rider’s body motions. Combinations of these body movements are how tricks and stunt combos are performed. It may sound a bit complex, but in truth it’s much more intuitive (and lifelike) than the old method of button mashing. Stringing together some wicked tricks is far more impressive and rewarding.

2) Soundtrack

For many gamers the trend of louder and louder squealing guitars and screaming singers was simply detracting from the game play rather than enhancing the experience. THQ has apparently taken note as rather than simply overload the game with song licenses, they grabbed motor sports announcer David Lee and let him have at real-time commentary as we’ve come to expect in games like Madden NFL. Music will still be an option, of course, and the commentator can be shut off; however, if the finished game turns out even half as impressive as in the demo, this is a feature gamers are going to love. There’s nothing cooler than busting out your own unique signature tricks in Freestyle mode and having that voice you recognize from television calling out your every move.

3) Environments

Not that the environments in the previous entries were anything to snivel at, Reflex takes the concept up a notch by presenting tracks and courses that actually change (wear) as you ride on them! Hammering the throttle leaves ruts that not only remain for the duration of the race but actually affect the handling of your machine as you traverse them on the following laps. Brake slides cut grooves, jump faces become lined, and rainy days result in ruts becoming filled with water. Terrain deformation could very well be the absolute coolest feature ever included in this type of game as, just like in real life, the track conditions are ever changing. Expect your quickest lap times to come on the first lap then steadily lag as rhythm sections deteriorate, single line situations develop, and loose dirt starts to pile up outside the turns. Keep carving donuts and you can create a mound high enough to catch air from. This feature doesn’t just look amazing; it literally changes the whole dynamic of the genre.

4) Crashes

Each entry of the series has improved upon the crash sequences but prepare for quite an upgrade once more. Now, rather than simply reappear unscathed from a nasty get-off, players can expect shattered plastic, dented panels, and plenty of battle scarring.

5) Modes

Say goodbye to classes if you like mixed racing. The Omnicross mode allows for head to head competition with any vehicle in the game. Dune buggies, trucks, quads--the sky is the limit when it comes to sharing a track in MX vs. ATV Reflex. Best of all, should you happen to master a particular vehicle above all others, Omnicross looks to be one of the multiplayer modes which means you and your vehicle can take on up to 11 other racers (and their vehicles,of choice) from all around the globe online.

In all, there’s a lot to be excited about in MX vs. ATV Reflex. No, it isn’t a substitute for the real thing, but for many riders, the long months of winter can be made slightly more tolerable by duking it out on the LCD from the comfort of the couch. This is a must-have gift idea for the rider on your list.

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