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MX vs. ATV: Reflex Review

Pity the poor right analog stick. Since its integration into the Playstation’s Dualshock controller, the diminutive nub has often been subjugated to controlling the game’s camera.  Several years ago, the developers of several sports titles expanded their control schemes by reintegrating the neglected stick. Players were able to deke, crossover, and spin with unmatched finesse, intuitively complementing each game’s core input method.

As with previous series iterations, 2007’s MX vs. ATV: Untamed required players to use the left joystick to navigate over its rugged off-road courses. The title’s preload feature, encouraged gamers seeking maximum air to pull back on the controller before reaching the apex of a jump, no longer felt innovative. The element had been a mainstay for Rainbow Studios since 2001’s ATV Offroad Fury. Clearly, the franchise would have to offer more than a subtle visual enhancement to remain relevant.

The first few races with the recently released MX vs. ATV: Reflex are likely to stymie players, especially if they skip the game’s nearly-requisite tutorial. While the game uses the left stick to maneuver vehicles, a rider’s weight is adjusted with the right stick, creating an intricate system of control. The innovation certainly adds to the title’s sense of immersion. Vehicles no longer seem magnetically attracted to the game’s courses, prohibiting riders from performing full-throttle laps. Corners and jumps require diligence, as too much power can quickly send players catapulting into the course’s borders. In many respects, the title’s physics model is forgiving- unwieldy landings will flash a green arrow on-screen, requiring players to snap the right stick in the corresponding direction. A timely push can save the player from calamity, occurring with enough frequency to require a near-constant state of alertness.

Additionally, the game’s integration of track deformation ensures that each race feels wonderfully dynamic.  Each of Reflex‘s two to four-wheeled vehicles dig into the tracks accordingly, gutting the surface with fissures and ruptures. Topography ranges from loose topsoil, thick mud, sand pits, and ice pockets, each changing the player’s traction. It’s amazing to see a murky gulch grow larger with each successive lap, and unlike most auto racers, requires gamers to be aware of an ever-changing racing environment.

Although racing can be both euphoric and involving, Reflex’s collision system will certainly aggravate players. While leading a race, an AI rider will often take flight across a jump, hitting the back of the gamer’s motorcycle and inducing a wipeout. Similarly, contact in corners can send the player tumbling into a ragdoll animation, potentially instigating a controller-throwing rage. In these instances, Reflex’s physics model desperately cries out for desensitization.

While Reflex’s low-slung camera angle may immediately grab a gamer’s attention, it’s the title’s smaller visual perks that elevate the title. From the bike bouncing mud flaps to the wind-swept jerseys, the game’s attention to detail is remarkable. Both consoles sport a perfectly fluid frame, although we seemed to spot a bit too much activity in the PS3’s ground transformation. David Lee’s signature slow baritone walks players through the tutorial and event introductions, adding a dose of authenticity to the proceedings.

Reflex’s variety of events, from arena-based Supercross competitions to buggy and truck racing in Omnicross, offers a welcome amount of diversity across the game’s forty tracks. Waypoint racing feels wonderfully dangerous, as reckless gamers can inadvertently launch themselves into a thicket of trees. The game’s Free Ride mode gives participants an open world with four mini-events to tackle- from hill climbs to jump targets, that offer a reprieve from the title’s racing. MX vs. ATV’s multiplayer games utilize playlists, which allow gamers to jump into matches with a minimum of fuss.  The game’s Snake event was particularly appealing, offering a Tron lightcycle-like diversion, where player’s bikes emit a color-coded, lethal trail. Both 360 and PS3 versions of the title showed very little lag during online matches.

Rainbow Studios has done a magnificent job of reinvigorating the MX series. While the addition of rider handling and track deformation might sound like back-of-the-box bullet points, both significantly change the way the title plays and feels. Even an overzealous collision system can’t keep MX vs. ATV: Reflex from finishing up at the winner’s podium. 

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Great review, even if it was a bit long.

  2. is this coming out this week or next?

  3. Did you get a review copy? How come you’re not in compliance with the FDA? 🙂

  4. The demo was a lot better than I thought it would be.

  5. David Lee Roth does voice over in the game?

  6. Downloaded the demo right now. Currently at 23%.

  7. It’s out today.

  8. I’m sure this will drop in price pretty quick.

  9. Its on it’s way from Amazon!

  10. Thanks for the review. but it was a bit long this time.

  11. I liked everything about the demo except for the music and the crashes.

  12. Wasn’t ATV Offroad made by Sony.

  13. Great review.

  14. Sounds very cool!

  15. Can use steer with Sixaxis on PS3?

  16. the demo felt really squirelly to me.

  17. That first pic cannot be real. Nope. no way.

  18. Time to get my Supercross on!

  19. I really liked the demo. Played it 5 times straight.

  20. Good review. Much better than Game Informer ten lines and a 7/10.

  21. how many different kinds of cars are in the game?

  22. Sorry, but that is a rag.

    This month they have a side bar about the Tesla’s first appearance in a game- GT5.

    I guess non on staff played a little game called Project Gotham Racing 4.

  23. I expected any December games to be turds. I guess I was wrong.

  24. There’s a slider usic volume. Sadly, none for the crashes.

  25. Honestly, i’m a bit sick of racers at this point.

  26. Maybe a cut scene shot?

  27. The whole deformation things sounds cool. It didn’t seem to be too important in Motorstorm.

  28. Sorry, but I thought the demo was really hard to control. I like the old way better.

  29. Thanks for the review. Much more interesting that Baku-crap.

  30. The only reason I read it is because I get it for free. I think that’s the story of the mag.

  31. So is this better than Pure?

  32. Thanks for the review, deagle.

  33. Demo was pretty good. I hope you guys review the PSP version. I need a good portable racer.

  34. looks pretty cool.

  35. Are ATVs in the demo or just bikes?

  36. Great review. I’ll probably get this for christmas.

  37. Seems cool, but I might be bored of it after a while. Happens with all racing games.

  38. No, it’s David Lee. The voice of Supercross ads.

  39. I need to pick this up. Let me know if anyone sees a sale.

  40. I’m one of those who prefered the old control style. This one feels way too loose.

  41. This or Dirt 2? Which is better?

  42. I really liked DiRT2, and played the demo for this. They’re both good. I guess it depends on which vehicles you like more.

  43. Nice to hear it’s rated “E”!

  44. My uncle’s a big offroad-type game aficionado, might give him this for Christmas.

  45. I think they patched it. There was an update and now the game feels different!