Ostensibly, MX vs. ATV Untamed for the PSP is a different game than the versions found on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The core concept of the MX vs. ATV series is still intact--driving around on all manner of off-road environments, pulling off tricks, and getting yourself into painful-looking spills in the process--but the organization of elements found in the console version of the game has been refigured for the handheld version. The result is a scaled-back, uneven Untamed experience that ends up more frustrating than fun.
The core mode in Untamed for PSP is the X-Cross Tournament, which was also found in other versions of Untamed. However, unlike the tournament mode on the console versions, Untamed's X-Cross Tournament on the PSP is based on location, not vehicle type. In fact, whereas Untamed features the same plethora of vehicle types found in the other versions of the game, only MX and ATV bikes are available at the get-go; other vehicle types must be unlocked as you progress through the game.
Racing, tricks, and off-road environments combine in MX vs. ATV Untamed for the PSP.
To progress in the X-Cross Tournament, you must complete a number of events in each location. The event types are the same throughout each location and, to move on, you have to beat five of the six available tests. These event types include your standard races around outdoor supercross stages, waypoint races that are more wide-open, time-attack events that challenge you to get from one point on the map to another in a set amount of time, stunt challenges that award points for pulling off stunts, flag challenges in which you capture a set number of flags strewn all across a map, and stunt attacks that combine racing and stunts.
All of these event types have their highs and lows, and practically all of them deal with the game's sketchy approach to vehicle physics. For example, the race events put a heavy emphasis on the rhythm-racing concept that has been a core concept of the series for a while now. You can preload before a jump to get extra air by pushing down on the D pad or analog stick and then up at the lip of the jump. There's also a negative preload that will result in a shorter-than-normal jump, which is pulled off by reversing the normal preload. Judging when you need to preload, negative preload, or simply take the jump as normal is one of the keys to success in the game.
Hungry for some frustration? Well, you'll find plenty to satisfy you in Untamed's stunt events, which pit you against a number of other riders in a race to rack up the most stunt points in a set amount of time. The tricks themselves are simple button combinations, but landing those tricks is an entirely different matter. The game rates your landings on a scale that ranges from "perfect" to "ouch," and the number of points you earn from your tricks is determined by the landing you manage. Therefore, an ouch-rated landing will take away most of the points you earned in midair. Fair enough, except that there seems to be little consistency in how the game determines a good landing from a bad one. What might seem to be a perfect landing to you will result in a score-lowering "ouch" rating for seemingly no good reason. Your best bet in the stunt events is to find one ramp on which you can nail a consistent landing and just keep circling back over and over to pull off tricks.