After a three-year hiatus, Nordic Games is getting the band back together and reviving MX vs. ATV, the seminal dirt track racing franchise that almost crashed and burned along with now defunct publisher THQ. At just 10 people, the team behind MX vs. ATV: Supercross might seem understaffed, but nearly every member is a series veteran still committed to the dream. One guy even left his career in finance for a second time to return to the world of high-octane game development. Now that’s dedication.
As with any good reunion tour, Supercross is a greatest hits of game features, culling all the best aspects of previous MX vs ATV games: the clutch and “pre-load” mechanics from Untamed, the real-time track deformation and core controls from Reflex, the online multiplayer and MotoClub Depot DLC store from Alive – you get the idea. According to the reps at E3, the team focus tested the older titles with actual motocross stars (many of whom appear in the game) and kept all the features that resonated with the real-life riders.
"Eat my dust" has never been applied so literally.
Naturally, Supercross delivers a few firsts as well, most notably a full-fledged career mode complete with multiple circuits across 17 brand new tracks. Customization and upgrade options have grown deeper than ever thanks to the 80-plus companies lending their names and products to the project – and yes, tuning your dirt bike or ATV will actually impact how it performs on the track. Finally, longtime fans should be pleased to learn that, according to the dev team, AI competitors are more competent than ever.
MX vs. ATV actually lets you control your bike and rider separately, which makes for a slightly more involved and nuanced racing experience.
I was actually able to put in a few laps at E3, and while I can’t really speak to the relative intelligence of the computer-controlled racers, I am prepared to call Supercross a totally fun racer. For those who may not be super familiar with the series, MX vs. ATV actually lets you control your bike and rider separately, which makes for a slightly more involved and nuanced racing experience. For example, you can flick the right stick before a jump to “pre-load” – which is to say, compress the bike’s shocks and add bit of spring to your take-off. Thoughtful, realistic touches like that make Supercross more than just another mindless gas-and-go racer.
Beyond the main gameplay, I appreciated some other little touches as well. The trick system, for example, isn’t necessary, but it can be totally fun. The optional helmet and free cams offer unique ways to view the action, and free ride mode leaves room for plenty of goofing around. The best part, though? The final product – though only available on PS3 and 360 – will cost just $30.