Rainbow Studios’ passion for off-road vehicles was born in the late 90s with the creation of the wonderful series Motocross Madness for Microsoft. Two PC titles capable of highlighting the potential of the 3D cards of that period and, above all, of the Sidewinder Force Feedback, the first joystick signed by the Redmond giant equipped with that technology. At the beginning of the new millennium, the passion for off-road vehicles instead of waning has grown: the Phoenix development team has switched to All Terrain Vehicles by making the fun ATV Offroad series for PlayStation 2.
Between jet skis, BMX and an appearance in the world of Star Wars with the sequel to Star Wars Episode I: Racer, in 2004 Rainbow Studios made the first episode of a series that for almost twenty years has been synonymous with off-road in the gaming landscape: MX Unleashed. A series closely linked to the fate of THQ, then reborn under the Nordic Games / THQ Nordic label with new iterations of MX vs ATV. And after an absence of four years – MX vs. ATV All Out was released in 2018 – comes MX vs ATV Legends, which we played hard to be able to test their real potential.
We start on two wheels
On board a motocross bike our adventure begins with the new production of Rainbow Studios: immersed in the green stars and stripes countryside complete with hills, streams, house with porch and shed we will find ourselves chatting with our trusted mechanic (he is not very talkative, a bit like all the other NPCs) by completing the tutorials scattered along the game map.
The development team has opted – once again – for the creation of an open world: the explorable square meters have increased significantly compared to the previous chapter and we will find ourselves wandering on mountain trails with lots of snow, jumping in the middle of canyons. spectacular, climb along the shoreline and do much more. The carefree open world it merges with the more serious one of circuit racing in the three different categories present in the game (MX, ATV and UTV). To try the career or any other competition we have to get out of this sort of hub, while to learn the rudiments of the control system we are called to complete a series of exercises: some are well packaged, others are less so (also due to some graphic bug or localization error). Concluding the tutorials allows you to unlock vehicles, races, equipment and more. The effort made by Rainbow Studios to improve the management of the menus compared to MX vs. ATV All Out: Despite the efforts made, certain things can still be improved, including the annoying flicker that appears when switching from one screen to another.
In terms of content, MX vs ATV Legends offers the classic career (there are three available), the Performance tests divided into Quick Match and Time Trial), the possibility of challenge each other in split-screen or play online (16 players), the Workshop to upgrade and study the set-ups of two and four-wheeled vehicles and the Equipment to customize your character.
ATV is the best category
The control system of MX vs ATV Legends fits perfectly with the competitions / categories proposed: despite being very arcade, it requires a good command of the vehicle and a thrifty use of the throttle. To win any race it is essential not to make mistakes (the opponents are very aggressive) and to take advantage of the morphology of the terrain and the curves in an appropriate way.
To tackle a series of whoops aboard a dirt bike you don’t just have to jump and open the throttle, in fact you need to find the right rhythm between the bumps in order not to waste time. On the jumps you have to manage the posture of your alter-ego, not only to perform a few numbers in mid-air, but also to land without ending up off the track or against an opponent. Facing the same whoops with an ATV, for example, you need to change your driving style, ditto with a UTV. In short, MX vs ATV Legends does not forgive mistakes, regardless of the difficulty level selected. The three types of vehicles available, despite having a similar control system, have some differences in driving (thankfully!). Dirt bikes are the simplest to master, ATVs are the most fun to race with, UTVs the worst. MX vs ATV Legends offers three distinct careers made up of different events and championships. By competing you unlock new races, various upgrades and new vehicles and, above all, you earn money to improve not only the appearance of your vehicles / avatars (the customization is unfortunately sketchy) but also their performance.
AI likes chaos
In most cases the falls are due to one’s own mistake, although computerized opponents often combine all kinds of ones: they are capable of overtaking another pilot, crash after a flight and ring a series of rear-end collisions. In MX vs ATV Legends chaos reigns supreme and a small error of concentration is enough to finish first to last. The AI, then, is fierce (in certain tracks bordering on the schizophrenic) and miraculous recoveries after a fall can be counted on the fingers.
In fact, there is no possibility to remedy a carelessness through a “rewind” function and returning to the track after a crash or a clumsy exit means losing a certain number of seconds (the automatic reset takes too long). Some tracks they are really difficult and demandingothers are less: the fault lies with an AI that is far from being well balanced, and in certain races increasing or decreasing the difficulty level only changes the tolerance for errors.
Good number of events
MX vs ATV Legends presents a fair variety As for tracks, tracks and types of events (there are about a hundred): from time trials to checkpoint challenges (the most fun) or competitions in arenas, there is not much to complain about, if not the animations of the character who unfortunately seem to belong to a few generations ago. The open world, fortunately, offers glimpses and landscapes even of surprising beauty, although it is impossible – contrary to what happens in other exponents of the genre – to destroy the fences and other elements of the scenarios. We are clearly not close to the graphic majesty of the major arcade courses but the overall result is decent.
Unfortunately, MX vs ATV Legends pays like its predecessor a deficient technical realization with graphic bugs of all kinds (flickering textures, throttle pop-ups and more) and a fluctuating frame-rate on PS5. The furrows on the muddy ground can be improved, as well as the waves on the shoreline (they seem stuck), while the deformation of the slopes remains basic. The game also offers a rich soundtrack with about sixty rock and metal pieces: some tracks in this regard have the power to make the noise of the vehicle engine “disappear”!