Since I was a young art dog unknowingly wandering the planet with an artistic brain far beyond what doctors could register (sarcasm), video games have been a part of my life. Now, let’s not get this confused with some weird kid that doesn’t go outside because it’s video games or death. That would be incorrect. I had a very healthy balance of being outside and playing and, when there was time to do so, firing up the Super Nintendo and burning laps on Super Mario Kart or collecting bananas in the world of Donkey Kong. However, as I age, the less time I have to play video games. You know, a wife, dog, work, friends, etc all take precedent and, rightfully so. Thus, making time to play a dirt bike video game? Well, that hasn’t happened in years.
If I am going to play a video game, I only own two: Grand Theft Auto V and MLB The Show ’20. The last motocross video game I bought was the first installment of Monster Energy Supercross: The Game circa whenever the hell that thing released. I played it for a few weeks and then put it away. I couldn’t get into it and, to this day, want to know why the SUPERCROSS game has the worlds flattest SUPERCROSS jumps. Seriously. WHY?! Anyways, like most of us, I have been a follower of the MX vs ATV franchise since its inception with the 2001 effort that was ATV Off-Road Fury (seriously what a rad game. The only thing quads got right). I will admit, I didn’t purchase MX vs ATV All Out. My last purchase from the franchise was Encore. I lost interest. And, GTAV is just, well.. GOLD. Still. So, about a month ago when I learned about MX vs ATV Legends, I was rather intrigued.
The more I saw of the game, the more excited I became. It looked like a pretty solid effort to bring us moto fans something of quality. So, come this past Tuesday, I, like many of you, made the purchase of the latest MX vs ATV video game. I played for roughly two hours and, my thoughts? Well. Um. Yeah.
I’m not thrilled. As many have already said, the tracks are like an ice skating rink, that 125 is NOT good, the time you lay on the ground after a crash is longer than Martin Davalos’ time in the 250 class, and even on the easiest mode of the game, I am still getting my ass kicked beyond belief. Frustrating? Yes. But, what really grinds my gears is the career mode. Why can we not have a career mode that is, at the very least, in the ball park (cheap seats are fine) of something that feels authentic to our sport?
In the name of transparency, thus far in career mode, I have done the few outdoors, invitationals, and the desert series. So, I suspect there is room for it to improve and feel more authentic to our world as you progress? I am going to find out. But, right now, I am not impressed. It feels corny and like it is catering to 12-year-old the has never heard of dirt bikes (if that was their goal, then solid work. Mission accomplished). I would love something that starts you out as an amateur at local tracks and you progress into the pro ranks.
As an avid fan of the MLB The Show franchise, their career mode is next level. I like to play as a starting pitcher. In their career mode, you go to a combine to show off your stuff to scouts. If you perform well, a scout will seek you out and enter you into the draft. You are then drafted to an MLB team where you sign a very cheap contract, start out in single A, perform well to be called up to double A, and then triple A and, if all goes well, a call up to the majors. But, it takes time. Legit, up to a month or so of real time playing before you can earn a spot on the MLB roster. You’re given an agent, have to deal with injuries, bad games, training sessions between your starts, rehab assignments, even being sent down at times, free agency, and more. It’s a 162 game season, just like the real MLB season. Maybe you make into the playoffs, maybe you don’t. Point is, it’s legit. Time consuming, but authentic. I love it. Why, for the love of Cheesy Gordita Crunches, can we not have something like that in a moto game? It doesn’t even have to be as detailed as MLB The Show (though I would prefer if it was), but just something that feels more realistic to our world.
A little over 10 years ago, I spent some time at THQ Studios in Phoenix, AZ shooting some BTS videos of the MX vs ATV games being made with interviews of those behind the game. It was a rad group of individuals that were very passionate about making something realistic and fun for us. I was told by one individual that it would be difficult for them to make a truly authentic motocross game because of THQ’s (or whoever called the shots back then) demands that the franchise needs to appeal to the die hard moto fans, but it even more so needs to appeal to the people who just like racing games but know zero about motocross. Hence, the arcade type feel to make it “fun for everyone.” I get it. But, like many have been saying since the release of Legends, this one feels like a step backwards. It’s almost like they think we are stupid and will be just fine with what has been created and released. However, that is just speculation. Surely there was a massive amount of effort put into this game and those who made it do give a shit. But, somehow, someway, it has missed the mark. I will say, though, the environments, so far, have been impressive!
I also noticed (so far) that we do not have a two moto format during the outdoors like we did in the previous installments of the game. We also don’t have the ability to pick your starting gate based on your finish, heat races, etc as we did in previous installments. Again, maybe these are features MX vs ATV Legends does have, but we need to get further into career mode to experience them? I hope so, because I am not so stoked on how this current career mode is going. It feels cheesy and like an insult to the authentic motocross fans whom play these virtual games.
In closing, I am going to keep chipping away at the game, upgrading my steed in hopes the overall gameplay improves. And, hell, maybe the career mode gets better as you progress. I am going to see it through with an open mind. And, if it doesn’t get any better, well, I have GTAV and the latest installment of MLB The Show to keep me occupied until the next installment of a proper motocross video game appears. Hell, maybe somebody can bring back Motocross Madness and get us MCM3? It’s only been 22 years since MCM2 was released (May of 2000). We are ready for the third installment, fellas.