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MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship review (Xbox 360): Muddy waters

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Released on Tuesday, May 8 2012

'MUD FIM Motocross World Championship' screenshot

© Black Bean Games


Also available on: PS3, PC
Developer: Milestone
Publisher: Black Bean
Genre: Racing

As an officially-licensed motocross game, one would think that MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship would be the game of choice for true fans of the sport - fans more interested in authenticity than over-the-top arcade action. That does, however, put the creative team in a bit of a tight spot, because doing so would surely alienate the casual video game consumer, hunting for the 3D equivalent of a Trials Evolution. Unfortunately, it's a dilemma the team doesn't appear to have solved, resulting in a game that's unable to fulfil the desires of arcade thrill-seekers and those more fond of racing simulations.

Initially, the game shows a great deal of promise. Players are greeted by colourful and cartoonish user-friendly menu screens, brimming with options and events. Races are preceded by loading screens packed with genuinely-useful information, the in-game camera enables players to take some pretty spectacular snaps across a dozen actual courses, and tens of real-life motocross riders are there to please sticklers for authenticity. There are even trick events, something that seems perfectly suited to the virtual motocross experience.

'MUD FIM Motocross World Championship' screenshot
MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship features two main gameplay modes, each of which is packed full of activities. Official mode contains individual races and championships spanning MX1, MX2 and MXoN, the latter of which is a points-based meeting of the nations. Naturally, Official mode is where players go to find genuine motocross racers and competitions, although the racing itself is no different to that in the rest of the game, using gimmicks such as energy drink-enabled speed boosts, something that won't sit well with purists.

Perhaps the purists wouldn't mind so much if the racing was up to scratch, but the in-game action is sloppy on so many levels. Other than energy drinks, boosts are earned by performing the 'scrub' move, a trick that sees riders lean unnaturally far to the left or right while hanging in the air. Having to perform the trick countless times throughout each race grows tiresome, especially given the game's poor physics engine and animations.

Bikes don't feel weighty enough, and potentially-stunning backdrops look scrappy and underdeveloped (despite looking impressive in screenshots), with poor draw distances and odd lighting effects. It's a shame because, although not nearly as successful at this as something like Sega Rally, riders tear up the game's muddy courses, creating grooves and creases that affect speed and dictate the racing line, a feature that should have led to far more exciting races.



MUD World Tour, meanwhile, features a cast of four fictional characters, each of whom has strengths and weaknesses in specific categories. MUD World Tour is all about unlockables, including additional racing gear, events, tricks and the riders themselves. Traditional races are joined by check point battles (time trials) and elimination races, which are particularly chaotic, being made up of more than a dozen riders. Though not innovative or original, eliminations occur with alarming regularity, making them one of the more exciting features in the game.

Unfortunately, the excitement is short-lived, as World Tour's obsession with unlockables proves to be its downfall. Unlocking event cards is all well and good, but the game takes it one step too far by forcing players to pay for each course within an event, something that can only be achieved by repeating races countless times. This approach proves incredibly tedious, remedied only slightly by the fact that players at least have the freedom to dip in and out of whichever events they please.

'MUD FIM Motocross World Championship' screenshot
Money can also be earned by tackling the 'tricks' mode, though this proves to be another area of the game that fails to live up to its billing. There are a total of 30 trick cards available to purchase, requiring an increasingly-complex set of commands to activate.

However, much like the scrub move in regular races, tricks look and feel a little off, suffering once again at the hands of the game's jerky animations and weightless bikes. It doesn't help that each trick event can be bested by performing a backflip or two, making it far too easy to succeed.

An online mode is also included, containing the usual array of races and events, but facing human opposition, unfortunately, doesn't add much to the title. It's not the opposition AI that causes headaches, rather the game engine itself, so playing online fails to tackle the problem.

One thing you can say about MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship is that it's not short on in-game content and activities, even if they're poorly executed. But MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship fails to appease arcade enthusiasts or simulation fanatics, muddying the waters between two gameplay styles.


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