The MX vs. ATV series seems to not only represent the battle between motocross bikes and all terrain vehicles, but also the differences between arcade and simulation racing. The newest entry, Reflex, attempts to combine the best of both worlds: outlandish tricks and environments with finely tuned control. The result is a thrilling, yet flawed racing game. It features intuitive controls and a ton of content, but it's only worth checking out if you're a racing fan with patience.
6242421>Catching air is so easy, you might find yourself in nosebleed territory.None
Despite the name of the game, you'll be driving more than just bikes and quads in Reflex. You'll also steer UTVs, buggies, and sport trucks through the game's large collection of races and events. The different vehicles make for a considerably different experience, depending on what you're driving and how you have it customized. The options are nice, but the improvements made to the series aren't as apparent in the larger vehicles.
Those improvements include track deformation and rider control. Cosmetically, the deformation is convincing--your tires dig into the terrain and the dirt they kick up actually piles up into new mounds--but it doesn't alter gameplay too much, especially if you're in a larger vehicle. The bikes and ATVs can get tripped up in muddy lines, but deformation rarely causes wrecks. Still, it's a welcome addition that inches the series closer to its competitors and makes for a more realistic racing experience.
The other new addition--the dual-stick rider control--adds a layer of strategy to the series. You control your vehicle with the left stick and your rider with the right stick. You can lean into turns, lean back to preload for a jump, or lean forward to climb hills or right your bike in mid-air. You also use the stick to execute tricks by flicking it in different directions while in the air. The system is intuitive and satisfying once you get the hang of it, and it also addresses a problem that plagued the last game: constant wipeouts. When you land a little wonky from a jump, a green arrow will flash on the screen; if you press the direction quickly, your rider regains his balance. You'll likely end up playing this racer in the same way you'd play a first-person shooter--both thumbs on the sticks making constant, quick adjustments. It might feel a little weird at first and requires a greater level of attention because you have to keep your eyes on the terrain, as well as your rider, but it's a rewarding system when everything works correctly.
Unfortunately, things don't always work correctly in MX vs. ATV Reflex. Kinks in the physics system can lead to some unpredictable, chaotic rides. There are times when everything syncs up so that you're rhythmically soaring over muddy ramps, as well as leaning into turns like a true MX pro, which is both satisfying and fun. Then, you'll hit a random little bump or piece of scenery and your hefty vehicle will tumble around the track like a tissue box down a flight of stairs. This inconsistency can be intensely frustrating, especially when it happens at the end of a close race. The sharp controls help a bit, but even after you master them, you'll still have to battle an occasional violent gravitational oddity.
A new deformation system makes this track bumpier the second time around.