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MX Unleashed PlayStation 2

Published by THQ
Developed by Rainbow Studios
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

MX Unleashed is the latest MX title from THQ. The previous titles have all been enjoyable and it's fair to say they have always been very popular. The burning question with these games though is how can they keep them interesting and what new features have been added? Surely with both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 now having a fully operational online system you would think that practically all games of this nature would be coming out with full online capabilities? Well let's take a look at MX Unleashed and see what it adds to the many similar titles that are already out there.

MX Unleashed offers a career mode, supercross, nationals, freestyle and training. Disappointingly though, there is no online mode. The game has in excess of 40 circuits, although the majority will be unavailable when you first play the game as they have to be unlocked by playing the career mode and they can also be bought from the store with points that you'll earn. As you might expect the career mode is made up of the different style events. You can either choose to create a custom rider or simply choose one of the pro-riders on offer.

It's always good to have a solid control system in a game of this nature and the control system that MX Unleashed employs is comfortable for both tricks and races. Importance is placed on shifting your rider's weight around on the bike as well as using the preload system efficiently. Tricks are comfortable to perform and you're rewarded for linking combos together. You can steer with either the left analogue stick or the directional button, which I was personally pleased to see as I often find that the analogue sticks on the PlayStation 2 controllers are too loose and lack precision for fine control.

Races in MX Unleashed can be very frustrating. It's possible to go from first to eighth in no time at all simply because you didn't take a jump correctly. The AI also seems to have been programmed to keep the action as tense as possible. You could be half a virtual mile ahead of the pack and one stumble will result in at least 4 riders overtaking you. Similarly you could be eighth for 80% of the race then suddenly take a few jumps correctly and shoot into the lead as the AI riders are usually bunched up tight. Outdoor races can cause further frustration. Sometimes you'll hit a rock and simply bounce off it, remaining on the bike, whilst at other times it will throw you from the bike and lose you valuable time. None of these irritations are major problems but they do spoil the enjoyment somewhat.

Graphically the game looks good and represents an improvement over previous MX titles. The frame rate seems to remain fairly constant (although the odd dip, usually on certain jumps, is noticeable from time to time) but the sensation of speed seems a little disappointing when compared to other games such as MTX Mototrax that we also have in for review. The animations have been well done though and the trick animations all look good. The textures look good too. I compared the textures in the game to those in MX2002 and it's impressive just how much better Rainbow Studios have made everything look. However, the draw distance is a little disappointing and the use of distance fogging is quite noticeable especially on the outdoor circuits.

Now you wouldn't expect MX Unleashed to be any problem for deaf gamers and on the whole this is true but I was very disappointed with the training. You are shown a series of clips that detail how to make the most of the game and this provides really useful hints on how to control the bike to obtain speed and control. However they aren't subtitled, which makes them virtually useless for deaf gamers, which is a crying shame. Occasionally pictures will appear on screen showing what controls are being used but there is no text to describe the control's function or purpose, so in other words they are a waste of time. Aside from the training being a waste of time there aren't any other problems but it's a shame that this most crucial part of the game has been kept from deaf gamers. You'll also get reminders after a race if you didn't use your clutch or preload correctly and these are all in text. Our review code didn't come with a manual so it's impossible to comment on whether the quality of the manual made up for this problem.

MX Unleashed is a solid game that I'm sure fans of previous titles will be fairly pleased with. It doesn't really do anything that hasn't been seen before but Rainbow Studios have done a good job of making it one of the best looking MX games on the PlayStation 2. The game has plenty of variety but it's disappointing to see there is no online mode. This would have made it far more appealing and would have given gamers more of a reason to purchase the game. Nevertheless it is a solid addition to THQ's MX game catalogue.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
A solid and enjoyable game but essentially what does it offer that can't already by enjoyed in previous titles?

Deaf Gamers comment:
The training elements of the game are useless for deaf gamers.