Ever since Ricky Carmichael’s motocross games on the old Xbox I have always had a love of motocross titles. Granted a good few games that have passed through my gaming hands have been a poor attempt at tapping into an ever popular sports market, but then there are those that are quite the opposite, be it enthralling and realistic or arcady and a laugh to play. Motocross Madness (MM) is definitely the latter, its simple approach to the motocross world results in a game that is worth every single Microsoft point you spend on it.
MM’s operation is fairly simple. Right trigger makes you go fast, left trigger makes you stop and the left joystick points you in the relevant direction. You have the B button for drifting, X & Y for doing tricks, along with your bumpers and finally the A button lets you use ‘boost’ saved up during a race through various tricks and feats. Naturally like every arcade racer the more tricks you do or the longer you do them the more boost you’re rewarded with, and same goes for drifting.
Whilst racing you can also collect Chain Links and Flames, the Chain Links give you 10 XP a time. Once saved up they can be used on new bikes, upgrades to your current vehicle and avatar items such as helmets, boots and gloves. The purple Flames give you a massive boost upgrade, which once you’ve filled your blue bar up it will convert into a giant Flame that acts like a super-boost. It isn’t worth using boost on your first lap as the super-boost is so much better.
The handling is perfect for this kind of game. Not too loose but not too tight and as you upgrade the bikes you feel a noticeable difference in how they perform come the race. Equip better wheels and all of a sudden your bike doesn’t struggle with those hairpin corners. Upgrade the acceleration and you don’t get that lull in speed when an unnoticed hill slows you down. Whilst you have that arcady feel to the controls it does have a good hint of realism that makes MM all the more enjoyable.
Once a race is done you are rewarded with XP depending on your position and your finish time. Again, as before, the more XP you save up from racing the more you can spend on stuff to make you and your bike look prettier and go faster. There are in fact six bikes that can be unlocked, all of which have different attributes be it faster acceleration or better grip. You will also unlock additional tricks at first you’ll be limited to using a couple of X button tricks, as you progress through the game unlocks will include Y button tricks, LB & RB button tricks, trick modifiers and more. With so much to unlock and buy the game can become very addictive. This is also helped by the fact that it is your avatar riding the bikes, which gives the game a much more personal feel to it.
The campaign mode gives you four options: Race, Rivals, Exploration and Trick mode. Each mode has just three different locations: Egypt, Iceland and Australia, but it would have been nice to see a few more maps. With those three you can race against CPU opponents, which is where your bike becomes key, because you will need to upgraded pretty often as the opposition becomes more difficult. In Rivals you’re on your own in a time-trialesque race against the game’s developers. Exploration is pretty dull. You are given the entire map and you have to find 100 chain links and a handful of skulls (which are nails to reach) before completing the location. Trick mode is self explanatory - gain as many points from tricks as you can and see how far you can push your avatar before falling off your ride. Online you can have 8 player races, split screen co-op, stunt mode and the exploration mode, which adds a bit more longevity to this title.
A nice feature is the game’s ‘bike club’. This is where you can link with your LIVE friends and compare race times and set each other targets to beat. This includes ghosts of your friends times, which if you’re as competitive as me, it becomes quite enthralling.
The game is simple in design, fairly basic in its make-up too with its rather limited 3 tracks, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an enjoyable arcade title. For 800 points you’ll be left with a very addictive and enjoyable game. The bikes handle perfectly, you have numerous unlocks to keep you occupied and the online features which include ‘bike-club’ will have you wanting to flick MM on time and again. The campaign could be a little longer and as said above more tracks is a must if they make a sequel, but for right now if you do buy this game you’ll walk away knowing that it’s been 800 points well spent.