E3 2014: Get Dirty With MX vs. ATV: Supercross

The death of THQ last year ended in an auction for all of its IPs. Nordic Games, a relatively unknown publisher, scooped up a number of the publisher’s key IPs including Red Faction, Darksiders, and MX vs. ATV. A year later, the publisher arrives at E3 2014 with MX vs. ATV: Supercross, the latest entry in the beloved racing franchise. I got to go hands-on with the game at E3 2014 to see if this franchise was worth saving.

MX vs. ATV: Supercross takes the racing out of the car and onto dirt bikes and ATVs. The use of these vehicles makes the game feel fresh as the majority of racing games are car-only. Giving players the chance to race in a different type of vehicle is exciting, which is something I felt during racing. Being on a dirtbike offers its own thrills that cars can’t.

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Nordic Games is incorporating an interesting control scheme to make the racing feel authentic. The left stick controls the character on the motorcycle, and the right controls the direction of the vehicle. This crazy control scheme should have felt foreign, but it ended up feeling more natural than I expected. I quickly adapted and was racing against the hardest AI setting quite easily. Drifting greatly benefits from this two-stick set up, as turning both the character’s body and the vehicle together makes taking corners much easier. Of course, those who don’t want to race this way can turn it off in favor of a more traditional set-up.

The goal is to deliver a racing game to the masses. To do this, Nordic Games is aiming for an E 10+ rating. This low rating eliminates any chance of spectacular crashes you’d find in other racing games. Now, there are still crashes in the game, but nothing cool or spectacular like in Burnout or Need for Speed.

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MX vs. ATV: Supercross is last-gen exclusive so it doesn’t look as good as DriveClub or Forza Horizon 2. However, MX vs. ATV does have one advantage: amazing dirt physics. Nordic told me that they brought in NASA scientists to help them develop the code for the realistic dirt, and it shows. Not since Motorstorm: Pacific Rift have I seen such realistic dirt physics. Kudos to the development team for this accomplishment, its well deserved.

The development team also deserves kudos for their tracks. Games like Froza and Gran Turismo typically rely on recreating world-renowned tracks for their games. MX vs. ATV doesn’t do that. While there may be tracks from all over the world, they’re all 100% made-up and handcrafted by the team’s level designers. There will be seventeen tracks available when the game launches, though I only got to try out one. The single track was pretty good with just the right amount of turns, hills, and sharp corners. Plus, there’s a free roam mode that allows you to play around in any of the sixteen tracks without restrictive barriers.

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There’s going to be tons of content to keep you happy for a long time. Alongside the seventeen tracks and the free roam mode are 60 different racers, online multiplayer, and two-player split-screen. The best part? MX vs. ATV: Supercross will only cost you $29.99.

Unlike some racing games, MX vs. ATV: Supercross didn’t feel like a chore. Its intuitive controls made the game feel challenging and rewarding. This is a game that racing fans should keep an eye on when it launches later this year on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.