Black Bean and Milestone have steadily released racing titles for consoles for some time now, offering decent simulations of high speed thrills on both four and two wheels and whilst they do not gain the attention and praise of titles like Gran Turismo or Forza they have their own little niche market that offers in depth experiences in racing areas many other games just tend to ignore. With MUD FIM Motocross World Championship, they have really upped their game, bringing us a blend of realistic Motocross racing over officially sponsored championships and a more arcade feeling Heroes mode, all hosting a huge selection of licensed manufacturers, motocross teams, riders and tracks.
Those that are after the thrill of motocross without the need to get muddy or break a leg are in for a treat as MUD manages to strike the right chord with a game crammed with licences, letting you take part in three official competitions on 14 different bikes and a huge variety of riders. The game is split into three distinct areas, Official, MUD and Multiplayer, all offering the same high speed thrills across 12 tracks based on locations from around the world. The basics are the same for each mode, with you racing most of the time against 15 other riders, all vying for the top position across gradually eroding and very muddy tracks, littered with banked corners, ramps, hills and holes that you need to keep you riders balance all the way through with careful manipulation of their body, pushing forward and backward to approach and land perfectly and keeping your bikes speed up. Though trying to keep the game as realistic as possible with some decent effects and well-designed tracks the game also adds a little arcade action with a Burnout start possible with well-timed release of the brakes when the starting gate drops to the Scrub, a special move that you need to pull off to gain a speed boost after landing a jump. As you approach a jump, holding the X button will prepare your rider for a Scrub, in where he tilts the bike to its side, with perfect timing required to release from the Scrub, giving your rider time to get upright again and get a boost of speed dependant on how good your Scrub was. As with most racing games there is also a nitro style item you can use here, this time an energy drink, which you carry three of in each race, though I thought putting sugar in a petrol tank was not such a good idea, here it works fine, giving you an extra endurance boost.
The Official Mode is where most will start off to get a feel for the game, allowing you to choose from a simple quick race to a full 12 track Championship that allows you to choose from the MX1 or MX2 championships and all of the manufacturers and racers associated with them. There is also the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, again where you can choose from MX1, MX2 or even an Open contest in where the countries best will participate in a one off race.
Whilst the Official Mode offers a decent challenge it is a bit linear, with a simple, next race and earn points mentality, so for those looking for something with a little more depth you have the MUD World Tour. Here you are responsible for four Heroes, each with their own talents and skills that you need to upgrade over time to make them the best and ultimately earn access to all of the events. With each event you participate in you earn cash which can then be spent on skills like agility for a faster turn or strength to keep on your bike and also items like more effective energy drinks and sponsors that offer cash boosts dependant on your position and helmets.
There are four main events that repeat throughout the MUD World Tour, the Elimination races will systematically disqualify the racer in last place until only one is remaining, Checkpoint requires you to race through as many checkpoints as possible, Head to head and finally the Trick Battle. Whilst the actual racing is fun and challenging, the Trick Battle areas are rally lacking. There are three arenas, each with two different ramp layouts granting you a few minutes to pull off as many airborne tricks as you can, racking up scores by not crashing and winning even more cash to let you unlock more trick cards. Starting you off with simple double tapping of the face buttons for bar hops, nac-nac and flips you will eventually earn enough cash for more difficult and ultimately more rewarding moves like the dead body, lazy-boy and helicopter. If you are looking for a Tony Hawk style stunt fest, this is not it; with unresponsive inputs on even the easiest of moves and no way of linking or combining stunts, it is quite basic. What is even stranger is the apparent lack of physics when compared to the rest of the realism used in game with your bike able to change direction in mid-air with an “after-touch” effect usually used in golf and football games?
For those that want to prove themselves on the world circuit you also have the Multiplayer mode, where up to 12 racers can have either have a quick race or a MXoN event that also supports leaderboards and XP style ranking.
I found myself enjoying MUD for the majority of the time and I am sure other Motocross fans will put a lot of time into this. There are a few areas that will wind you up more than anything else, with some real bad collision detection and rival bikes riding up your characters back or the a harsh track reset, where if you even glance at the side of the track it’s reset to a complete lack of a rumble function.
The bad points taken into consideration MUD is still full of different racing modes that will keep all racing fans quite happy for some time.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: PS3)
You can order your copy and MUD from ShopTo here (Xbox 360) and here (PS3).