It’s extremely easy to overlook some of the under the radar, high quality titles on the expo floor at PAX East. Admittedly, I walked by the Xbox booth numerous times before my inquisitiveness got the best of me and I decided to see what Motocross Madness was all about. I regret taking so long.
If the name sounds familiar its because the original game was published by Microsoft on PC back in 1998, followed by a sequel in 2000. During that time developer Rainbow Studios, was purchased by THQ in 2001 and went on to work on the MX vs ATV series before being closed down late last year. Exclusively for the Xbox 360, the series will get a second chance thanks to developer Bongfish. Slightly tweaking the realistic physics well-known with the genre, Motocross Madness lets you use your customized Xbox Avatar to race through different locations like Egypt, Australia, and Iceland. Each location will have 4 different races and contain multiple paths to traverse as you collect item multipliers, points, and pick-ups to help you take the top spot.
In a few minutes of gameplay, I was impressed at how tight and responsive the handling of my bike was. Drifting around corners came naturally and I was able to perform complicated tricks with ease. Pulling off different tricks will increase your boost in a fun risk/reward system that keeps races dynamic and competitive. My A.I. controlled opponents were challenging and thankfully they relied on skills and not on a cheap rubber-banding mechanic.
I raced in an Egyptian desert set in a level called Dynasty City. The level had great draw-distance and the added effect of mud splattering on the television screen added a nice level of detail. My hands-on was limited to the basic racing, but I was told that Motocross Madness will offer different modes. Some of the modes will include a free-roam mode where you can wander around the environment grabbing coins and collectibles with no time restraints and Trick Session, where you compete against the ghosts of other players or against A.I. bots to get the most tricks in a timed free-roam session. Players will also have the ability to form Bike Club social network and compete with their friends simultaneously or asynchronously for top times.
While Motocross Madness certainly doesn’t stray away from the familiar formula, I came away from the demo actually enjoying my time with it. Motocross Madness will be released sometime in April. No pricing has been announced.