No one loves a good racing game like the Sports Gamer does. If you want to see a really well developed muscle, look at the index finger, a.k.a. The Gas Presser, on the Sport Gamer's right hand. That thing has logged thousands of hours in the full-on, pedal to the metal position. Honestly, it's a wonder it still even works...
Alive is the latest in the long running MX VS. ATV series. Recent games in the series have been forgettable at best. (Cough, cough, MX VS. ATV: Reflex, cough.) Can Alive (THQ, $39.99) get the series moving in the right direction again?
As with all MX VS. ATV games, you'll need to not only tend to your machine, whether it be a bike or an ATV, but you'll also need to tend to your rider. With the right control stick, you engage what's called the Rider Reflex System. Moving the stick moves your rider's weight around on the machine, making it easier to take tight corners, or in some cases, save you from what looks to be a time-draining wreck.
If you're new to the series, the Rider Reflex system will take some getting used to. Estimate learning curve time: 45 minutes.
Avoiding those wrecks is key to victory, especially considering how poorly designed the rider reset system is. The rider reset, as racing veterans know, is what gets you back on the track after you've messed up. Best case scenario, you tap a button and boom, you're back in the race. Unfortunately, things don't work that way in this game. In order for rider reset to kick in, you need to be off course, and stay off course, for two or three seconds, which in a racing game of this caliber, feels like an eternity.
Worse still, on more than one occasion my ATV got caught on a piece of terrain, and I was stuck indefinitely in a kind of limbo--not in the race, but also not out of the race, either. This kind of glitch really irritates the Sports Gamer.
There are 12 national tracks to race on, as well as four short tracks and two free-ride areas. Unfortunately, when you start up the game, only two of the tracks are available, and you can't play any of the other tracks until you've leveled up your rider to level 10. That means you'll be racing the same races over and over again, just to level up. That gets old fast. And the next national tracks aren't unlocked to level 25 after this. Which means even more re-racing of races you've already raced. (Say that 10 times fast.)
The game weighs in at a wallet-friendly $40, with the idea being that more content--tracks, vehicles, etc.--will be available for purchase at some future date. The Sports Gamer likes this sort of thing--making games cheap, but then giving you options to buy even more of the game down the line, should you find yourself enjoying the game. Unfortunately, MX VS. ATV: ALIVE doesn't make the Sports Gamer hungry enough to crave more game.