Tech News on G4
Motocross Madness is wheel good
May 3, 2013
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
The Xbox 360-exclusive Motocross Madness may not offer the insanity suggested by its title, but there's no doubt it's a solid, if predictable, entry in the arcade racing genre.
A spiritual successor to the title of the same name that was released on PC in 1998, Motocross Madness has you taking the reins of a motorcycle and traversing several tracks, earning points not just by winning races, but by pulling off ludicrous mid-air stunts.
Motocross Madness has all the staples of past games of its ilk: creative tracks that feature numerous paths, upgradeable and customizable vehicles, lots of hidden goodies, and easy-to-learn gameplay that makes it accessible to casual and hardcore gamers alike.
Its gameplay shares far more than a passing resemblance to the critically-acclaimed Pure, which was released in 2008 and developed by now-defunct Canadian developer Black Rock Studio.
Although more advanced techniques are always available to those perfectionists looking to shave off seconds from their best time, the basic controls are simple to master. You'll brake, accelerate, and drift, the latter of which helps fill up your boost meter. The real hook is the ability to pull of stunts in the air by activating button-and-analog-stick combinations, all of which earn you even more boost.
The higher you place in each race, the more points you earn, and the faster you'll level up. The powerups you'll earn as you progress through the game truly make it worth pushing on and levelling up. In fact, high-level players have a distinct advantage over newbies, as they have the ability to do things like change direction and boost in midair, as well as pull off more dangerous - and more rewarding - stunts.
There's a fine line between making a racing game that's punishingly difficult to control, and one so tight that it offers no challenger. While Motocross Madness can be a little frustrating at times, it does ride that line quite well.
The biggest issue with the gameplay is that you'll sometimes hit a corner at the lowest speed, or land on what looks like a perfectly stable and playable section of a track and still bail (read: violently crash), adding seconds to your time.
The game is also buggy. For instance, there are some sections where you'll land a jump in between what looks to be a solid piece of land, only to fall through a bottomless abyss. There were a few occasions where my racer was simply unable to pull off stunts, no matter how many different ones I tried. Restarting the race fixed the problem. The game also locked up on me a few times, and it seemed to only happen when I was playing a custom soundtrack.
When the game does work though, it's a lot of fun, but the gameplay itself is far from what makes Motocross Madness so addicting though - and it is quite addicting, to be sure. While it's fairly easy to plow through the three single player game types that feature tracks that are strewn throughout three distinct settings, it's the daily and weekly tasks and challenges that will players coming back to the game.
Motocross Madness has a two-pronged approach here, with the first actually being quite ingenious. Unlike most racing games where you join racing clubs via invitations (either sent or received), Motocross Madness automatically puts each player and his or her friends who play the game into a bike club.
Tasks are then shared between everyone in club. You may all be tasked with completing a certain amount of tricks, driving a set total distance, or finishing a specific number of races, so while you may not be much for pure skill, you'll know that every mile you rack up or even every crash you experience, you could be contributing to a shared task that everyone is itching to complete.
Completing tasks will earn XP, which allows you (and your fellow members!) to level up. The game goes even further, by suggesting players for you to befriend online, allowing you to help each other complete more tasks.
Motocross Madness also keeps track of friends' records, and suggests "challenges," where you and your friends essentially try to best each others' top times, high scores, etc.
The game is also the latest title to incorporate Xbox Avatar FameStar. This is a program shared between several Xbox Live Arcade games that tasks the player with completing challenges in order to increase their avatar's fame. As you level up, you unlock avatar rewards that you can use not just in Motocross Madness, but in other games that use Avatar FameStar.
There is also an online multiplayer component to Motocross Madness, which allows you to play against up to eight players through Xbox Live. There's nothing different here compared to the single player, but if you've earned first place in every last single player competition, it's through Xbox Live that you'll find new players that won't be as easy as the AI.
Motocross Madness may play it safe in terms of gameplay, but that's a good thing when all is said and done. Despite some bugginess (which could probably be fixed through an update), the core gameplay is plenty of fun, and there's enough content to keep players hooked.
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