MX Unleashed

Format: PS2
THQ/Rainbow Studios

4 005209 050029
Age Restrictions: 6+

Compete against some of the top names in motorcross in a variety of locations, or race against other vehicles including a monster truck, dune buggy or helicopter. Perform stunts and ride around huge terrains as you listen to some thumping tunes... and that's just for starters!...

MX Unleashed is not only a fantastic game for racing fans, it also caters to those who would usually run a mile from this style of game. Racing around and around indoor arenas or outdoor terrain is not everyone's cup of tea. So, it is great to see that Rainbow Studios have crammed in plenty of alternatives to those who want that little bit extra.

This game not only features a robust racing mode, but also an expansive Freeworld mode that allows gamers to explore vast environments where they can race against and ultimately drive machines including a helicopter, monster truck, dune buggy, biplane, and trophy truck.

Freeworld mode also lets players explore hits, jumps and runs in a variety of mini-games; perform stunts like jumping off moving trucks or through hot air balloons; and catch big air off of the treacherous terrain.

Unlike your average car racing games, there is more of a challenge here. You have to balance your clutch control, weight distribution and steering if you are to get anywhere, and mastering your bike is a real art form

But, where this game really comes into its own is the two player mode. Racing against your friends is so much more fun than playing against the computer opponents. There is something perversely pleasurable about watching as your friend's bike crashes, leaving him to eat dirt while you perform a back flip and ride off into the distance. And the hit mode mini-game is bound to get your adrenaline pumping as you attempt to take off from a number of designated jump areas and touchdown within a targeted landing area. Racing against your friends, or the computer opponents, to complete all jumps successfully is extremely challenging.

The race mini-game is also a hoot. Race against vehicles including a monster truck, biplane or helicopter. And, if you win the race, you get to drive the vehicle you raced against. Or... if you can't be bothered to keep racing, perform tricks to earn points in order to buy vehicles, and unlock extra areas.

It is this that provides longevity to this game. The challenge to unlock new environments is one that should keep most gamers happy for months. It's also one of those games that you will return to time and time again.

There is also an extremely helpful collection of instructional videos included. Theses teach you how to master the basics of riding your bike as well as how to perform simple tricks.

The only slight complaint I had was that the computer opponents have a nasty habit of crashing into your bike, and knocking you for six, every time you are in the lead. In one race I was sent flying on three separate occasions in just one lap - which was a little annoying.

In a market saturated with racing games it's great to see that there are still companies out there that are trying to offer that little extra.

Ray Thompson

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