MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship | Zombiegamer Review

In short

MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship features arcade-racing gameplay, and even though I get that, it is still a bit of a “one-trick pony”. That said, I couldn’t stop playing through the bountiful offerings and the great design of the modes on offer.

Developer: Milestone
Publisher: Black Bean
Distributor: SterKinekor
For fans of: Arcade game with dirt-bikes
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7.0/10

Overview

MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship exclusively features the MX1 and MX2 championships, the licenses as well as the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. Milestone are no strangers to bikes or racing as they were responsible for the SBK and WRC games. 14 bikes, 84 riders and 12 official tracks feature in MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship as well as plenty of unlockables which can be purchased.

What I liked

  • Scrubbing
  • Licenses
  • Visuals
  • Plenty to do

Not so much

  • Bike’s handling physics
  • Shallow gameplay
  • Arcade as opposed to simulator
  • No vibration whatsoever [even though I switched it on]
  • Doesn’t understand the laws of gravity at all

Gameplay and Features

The control layout is typical to racing games and easily picked up. The major flaw with the controller is the fact that even when switched on, there is no vibration, which really detracts from a racing game. I would have loved to feel those bumps and big landings. Other than that, I also think the ‘scrub’ feature should have used the analogue stick instead of just hitting A button and holding it in. The ‘scrub’ feature which is achieved [too] simply by holding in a button is the primary selling feature on the gameplay, and is a trick used to gain more speed or a boost as you land from a jump. The rider whips out the back-end of the bike in the air after a launch or jump, and by straightening out before you land, you gain a boost on landing perfectly. Players need to press and hold in the A button just before launching off the jump and let go in a timely manner just before landing. The better your timing, the more you boost on the landing. The racing basically revolves entirely around this feature and ultimately determines whether you will do well or not in a race or not – the more you ‘scrub’ well off key jumps, the more your chance of being in the front are. I also think that this feature, and how well you use it, will also determine how much you will enjoy the game. Players also have energy drinks which give you boost at any time in a race.

What totally threw me off with MUD was finding out it was an arcade racer. I do enjoy a good arcade, but I did not see how anyone would want to ignore the fact that the sport challenges gravity, and so I think a motor-cross game would hugely benefit from realistic physics. I mean motocross is all about the physics of the racing and not just speed – you have different powered bikes, but it is the riders input on the vastly technical arenas that will be the primary factor in their success. The sport requires intense leaning, angles, varied power with jumps and so much more that would make for outstanding racing-physics or a more simulator approach. These realistic-physics were mostly ignored with MUD – you don’t just defy gravity and all logic that goes with the sport, you absolutely ignore it. You can manipulate the bike’s direction in the air, and I saw almost no benefits from leaning more or less for the various depths of the jumps. The reason I am banging on about this the ‘arcade’ choice being a wrong one in my opinion, is because unlike car racing which just about everyone and their aunt enjoy; motor-cross definitely enjoys a smaller audience, but one that is fanatical. And I do believe the extremely lightweight arcade-physics will not fend well with the avid motor-cross fan, so I don’t see why go to all the trouble of getting all those licences and then deliver an arcade game. I think your “average Joe” couldn’t care less if his bike was a KTM with all the decals, whereas an avid MX fan would.

Once I got over the fact that MUD was definitely an arcade title, and dealt with the shallow input required from me, I did enjoy the racing somewhat. When you get the ‘scrubbing’ down perfectly, and upgrade your riders or bike, the competition you face in the racing is enjoyable to an extent. That said, MUD is still a bit of a ‘one-trick pony’ and so I wonder if it is not just the fanatical racing fan in me that loves to cross the line first that kept me motivated.

The ‘freestyle’ or trick competition on offer continues with the ‘out-there’ gravity defying physics, and again too light weight for me to be engrossed. In reality a rider need to time his jump with power, and even though you can influence gravity by leaning the bike and rider’s weight, you can’t totally manipulate it as you can in MUD. In the air you can totally change your direction in the game which watered down the experience for me, and allowed me to totally shatter the competition in AI form. All I really needed to do was hit the buttons in basic sequence for the combos or single tricks – and straighten out before landing – nothing that really challenged me.

While the arcade-like physics were in my opinion a bad choice, the design of what is on offer was brilliantly thought of and addictive really. You can go with the multiplayer modes, official modes and compete in Monster Energy MX 1 or MX2 tournaments and events, or play through a career-like ‘World Tour’ mode. Here you basically need to purchase everything in the game; from bikes, to gear, to the rider’s attributes and all the competition entries. So you should find yourself pushing to win money to purchase that next bike or attribute. The official mode is the more authentic mode, with the official riders and tracks to work your way through which added even more value after my long ‘career’ mode. Multiplayer is straight forward online events and will feel familiar to any racing fan.

Visuals and sounds

The presentation of MUD is very fresh, edgy and “cool” for a lack of a better term. It looks as though it could belong to the SSX, DiRT or Tony Hawk franchises; with awesome looking, sketched out menus and sub-menus. The theme goes nicely with the sport belonging to the ‘extreme’ sports genre. The riders in the World Tour further compliment the theme with their looks and even names – they’re bold and they’re cool [just like the sport].

Fortunately Milestone used a new game-engine for MUD so the game looks much better than last year’s WRC game from the studio, which looked pretty average. MUD looks the part, with realistic looking bikes and licensed gear; and a variety of realistic looking terrain to tear up. I noticed no visual imperfections so I am happy to report that the game was put together with great care when it comes to the visuals.

The soundtrack chosen is well suited to the sport – thrashing rock – but does get monotonous after just a few hours. No big-budget bands (or at least not that this rock fan knows of) where used albeit still good tracks for the most part. What let me down with the sound is the lack of variation in the sound effects and the motors’ soundtrack. The bikes sound very, very similar which I know is common with the bike-motors featured in the sport, but still, they all sounded more or less the same, and I know for a fact that a deep sounding KTM should sound different to the more whining Japanese bikes.

Closing comments

I should be forgiven for thinking MUD was going to be a simulator experience – all those licences, the bold title and even the fact that real riders were consulted in the development. I was immediately disappointed to find the “arcadey” physics. Once I got used to the fact that MUD is far from realistic, and the fact that it relies almost entirely on one feature, I did enjoy the racing aspect for hours on end. Still, if a simulator motor-cross game was released alongside MUD, I would skip all those pretty licences for even a slightly more realistic approach.

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