Reviewed: August 3, 2006
Released: June 27, 2005
Wow, it only seems like two years since I reviewed this same game on the console. I guess somebody figured out that the PSP is a bit light when it comes to off-road motorcycle racing. After all, unless you own a copy of THQ’s arcade racer, MX vs. ATV, MTX: Mototrax is your only other alternative to catching crazy air and performing mad stunts while saddled up on a 125cc or 250cc dirt bike.
The console versions of MTX: Mototrax offered a more serious and realistic style of motorcycle racing and stunts than any of its competition at the time. Most games allowed plenty of leeway in physics and bike handling to promote fun over realism, so when it came time to ride the bikes in MTX, many were shocked and even putt off by the frequent crashes and spills, even when performing something as simple as a wheelie.
The PSP version brings that same realistic premise to the handheld version of MTX, creating what is easily one of the better and more complete ports of a console title to the PSP. There have been a few trades here and there, both visually and in the gameplay, but the PSP also adds a few custom features like the new MTX racing mode with 32 bonus tracks, a track editor that lets you build your own courses and trade them via the wireless link, and a four-player racing mode for local wireless gameplay.
MTX offers all the traditional racing modes including Free Ride, Freestyle, and Ghost Mode. All of these modes allow you to pick a rider and a bike and head to any track you have already unlocked in the career mode. Free ride is exactly as it sounds, just riding for the fun of it, while freestyle gives you a chance to practice stunts. Ghost mode combines racing and stunts and records your previous efforts as a “ghost rider” than you can race against in future laps.
The heart of the game is the lengthy career mode that starts with you creating a rider using the in-depth character creator that is fully recreated from the console version. Once you have customized your rider, clothing, gear, etc. you can then head off to the rural training grounds to practice stunts and race in some training exercises, before heading out to the sponsored events. The career mode is large and substantial and should take weeks of play to complete. To keep everything organized you have a PDA to track races and scan your messages for new opportunities.
As you advance through the career mode and improve your riding skills you will start to get noticed. Sponsors will start showing up with offers of cash, new equipment and all the notoriety that goes with it. It’s all fairly straightforward. There is no story being told or anything, just an organized career structure to tie together a seemingly endless string of racing events.
There is a substantial trick system with more than 100 tricks to master. The trick interface is intuitive and works nicely on the PSP, but it will still take some practice before you are ready to compete in the ultimate motocross challenge; the X-Games.
Travis Pastrana lends his name to the game along with 12 other legendary riders adding some authenticity to the sport. You’ll get some good advice on racing and stunts from these guys as well as getting to challenge them in several events. Also adding to the realism is authentic gear and bikes from manufacturers like Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha.
There are 25 locations to race with 8 levels of Motocross and Supercross and 4 levels of off-road and freestyle racing. Many of the locations are locked and you will have to purchase them with your race winnings from the career mode before you can race them in solo or wireless multiplayer.
The PSP offers some decent multiplayer action for up to three other racers within wireless range and their own copy of the game. Sorry, no game sharing or Internet play. You can pick from any unlocked track from the career mode or load up a custom track you have previously built using the editor. Custom tracks are transferred to the other players. Then setup a few more options like race length and collisions and you are ready to race.
Graphics on the PSP are definitely better than the PS2 version but not quite up to the Xbox quality, but MTX still looks great on the handheld. The rider animation and subtle physical details from the console have been exchanged for stiff rider animation and less-than-graceful stunts and spills. All of the elements are still intact but they just don’t blend together as well on the PSP.
The levels that reappear from the console look just as good, and the new levels are challenging and nice to look at as well. The framerate holds up nicely and there is enough dust and dirt kicking up to make the off-road racing believable.
Each of the bikes has their own distinct engine sound ranging from the 125cc 2-stroke bikes all the way up to the powerful 4-stroke 450cc. These sounds all vary with the RPM of the bike, even with subtle traction changes or air time.
The soundtrack is impressive, especially if you are fans of groups like Metallica, Slipknot, Disturbed, and Faith No More. There are 23 vocal tracks and 13 instrumental tracks to keep the adrenaline flowing.
The career mode is good for 15-20 hours of challenging racing and the other modes will keep you busy for just as long. There is plenty to do and plenty to unlock in MTX if you want to complete this game entirely.
The level editor is a great feature and gives you total flexibility in designing your own courses – something we typically don’t see on a handheld. You can then share these tracks with other MTX owners or challenge up to three others in multiplayer races using the built-in tracks or custom designs. It’s a great way to extend the life of the title if you know people who have the game.
MTX: Mototrax is a challenging racing game that helps fill a void in the niche-genre of dirt bike racing. While a few technical sacrifices have been made to compact this game onto the PSP, the designers have managed to keep all of the core elements intact while adding enough bonus material to attract gamers who might already own the console version of the game.