When the title of this game was mentioned, I have to admit that an ATV racer was not my first guess. I was thinking more along the line of kart racing paired with a bunch of crazy characters like Mod Nation Racers or Mario Kart. So off I went to see what this game was all about. Oh, it’s an off road racing title will all terrain vehicles, hardcore X games attitude and flashy colors. Is this that new ATV Off Road Nail’d MX Vs ATV Pure sequel we have all been dying for? Let’s see if Techland‘s Mad Riders slings that mud or just sticks in it.

The story is pretty straight forward as in there is no real story. You are a racer located on a tropical island with nothing but winning on the mind. The game consists of 45 plus tracks across single and multi player modes. Single player consists of Tournament, Quick Race and Platinum Tracks. The first two are pretty self explanatory, but the Platinum Tracks refers to DLC. The only DLC currently available in this mode is called Zambia, and consists of 10 new tracks, 2 championships and some garage additions. Inside of these three were a number of different race types like Stunt, Checkpoint, Race and Ghost. All are average and self explanatory; nothing new here but not horrible to play.

Only birds can fly?

Off Road Elite is a sub genre located off of the tournament menu, and as you progress specific challenge races will unlock. These were tough but also rewarded me with more XP and goodies than a normal race. Single player progress is standalone from multi player, and each carries it’s own XP ranking system. Multiplayer carried the standard system link and online race modes with the same game types as single player.

The gameplay is pretty standard for racers of this style. If you have played Nail’d, ATV Off Road Fury or Pure, chances are there will be little to no learning curve when firing up Mad Riders. Start race, hammer the throttle, get points, stay in lead, avoid crashing, rinse and repeat. I have no problem with a tired formula as long as it delivers, which Mad Riders does. My rider was also tasked with picking up red and blue gate tokens. The former fills the turbo gauge and the latter could be used to open a shortcut or drop a few gates of red boost tokens to be collected.

Maybe upside down is not so bad.

The controls are a pretty solid set up that has been used in various variations by the racing games previously mentioned. There is the standard gas, brake, boost and trick buttons that were pretty easy to use. I love the fact they included the ability to steer your rig in the air. This saved me from crashing on many occasions.

The game is not a graphical masterpiece, and it is not trying to be. The graphics look good, and colors pop on riders and their vehicles. There is a decent amount of detail also put into the riders, their clothing and the speed machines they operate. I really like the ability to change paint schemes and colors, but was left wondering why I could not change seat colors. If I create a bright red and green machine why the heck am I stuck with a screaming blue seat? It’s a small thing, but still a slight visual annoyance for the nit pickers.

Tracks and terrain are stereotypically tropical and recycled. Yes, I understand there are 45 plus tracks, but most of them are pretty close in style with small cues changed, like a jump or drop off location to keep things fresh. Some barriers are not defined as well as they could be. When you have a game that uses split second shortcuts, aka Split/Second, a clearly defined track is a must. All too often, I found myself slamming into barriers or debris because I could not tell if it was part of the track or an obstacle.

Sling some mud!

The game moves along at a very nice pace when racing. A great blur effect is used that gave me a real sense of speed. I didn’t notice any slowdown when the screen “got busy,” and no terrain or racers seemed to pop in and out.

Audio was almost exactly as I had expected it to be, a mix of techno and rock that carried that gnarly X Games vibe. Sound effects were timed well, and noises seemed to be realistic. If I hit a rock the sound of metal meeting stone was there as expected. There’s really nothing to complain about at all.

This game is bite size fun made for the times when I just want to race. In a matter of a few hours I had completed all of the single players components, but with multiplayer and online modes this game screams replay value. Sitting around and playing this took me back to the days of ATV Off Road Fury and friends screaming about beating each other over and over as the PS2 gladly hummed.

This title was not without some issues. The first, and most frustrating for me, was the automatic resetting of your character when going off track even the slightest. When reset, I lost all momentum. This is a huge issue when racing a tough opponent or the clock. This alone led to many curse words and track restarts. The issue was most common on jumps into tighter areas where my rear tire would tap a wall I was crossing. Suddenly getting reset and looking at the tail end of all the guys that were just behind me isn’t fun. Sometimes this happened so fast I would not see any type of crash or hangup at all, just a screen fade before being reset to center track.

You like my custom rims, playa?

My other issue or pet peeve would be the on screen indicator for other real world players. Anytime there were other gamers playing the same level, an indicator popped up on the right side of my screen telling me to hit left on the D pad for multiplayer action on the fly. I did not care to see this, as I knew there was a multiplayer component and could find it pretty easily. There did not seem to be a way to turn this feature off, and if anyone knows of one, please let me know. Collision detection was also a hit or miss affair with other racers. Sometimes, I would happily bounce off them and other times I would dead stop like there was glue on my tires. It’s not a massive issue, but it is annoying when you are about to take first and a collision causes you to place 5th.

Mad Riders did exactly what it came to do. It gave me a great racing game that stripped away most of the unwanted extras so the racing itself shined. You have a bunch of riders, ATVs and other stuff to unlock, but the star here is the racing. It is fast, fun and a blast with others. The game is ultra accessible so even your “FaceBook only” gaming friends should give it a try. Oh, did I mention it’s a steal at $10 or 800 Microsoft points. This game blows away more than half of the current gen titles that launch at $40-60. Oh, one last thought… who pays for all the fuel to operate the hovering helicopters in game?

 

Here’s the Rundown:

+Fast fun with or without friends
+Great price point and value.
+Plenty of replay value and DLC on the way.
+Customization and unlockables.

-Automatic resetting of my racer.
-Multi player indicator in single player
-Collisions are sometimes wonky and unpredictable.

8 and 8.5 represent a game that is a good experience overall. While there may be some issues that prevent it from being fantastic, these scores are for games that you feel would easily be worth a purchase.

Mad Riders was developed by Techland and published by Ubisoft for the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live. The game released on PSN May 29th and XBLA (reviewed) on May 30th with an MSRP of $10 or 800 Microsoft Points. A copy of the game was supplied to RipTen for review purposes.