Reviewed: March 27, 2004
Released: March 2, 2004
With blazing-fast speeds, visceral thrills, and unbelievable jumps, motocross racing has rapidly become one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. With MTX: Mototrax, Activision and Left Field Productions bring PS2 gamers the fastest and most realistic MX racing experience on the market.
Running at a blistering 60 frames per second, MTX: Mototrax is the fastest motocross gaming experience ever created. This unprecedented level of speed meshes with the game’s lifelike graphics to make for quick controller response and a smooth, realistic experience.
MTX offers a wide range of play modes, including challenging exhibition racing and a ground-breaking non-linear career mode, which allows gamers to fully customize their rider’s gear, equipment, and attributes, as well as engage in a tense series of races in the extensive single-player game and endless multiplayer and online contests. And when you’re done with all that, you can even design your own racetracks and race on them against your friends!
MTX: Mototrax has all of the game modes you would expect from any next-gen racing game. The Exhibition Mode gives you the chance to ride any track as one of the numerous pros included in the game. The results do not affect your career standings, so this mode is a great way to practice the tracks.
The Ghost Mode allows you to record a lap time and race against it, so you can perfect your racing line and get the timing down for the rhythm sections.
The MTX: Mototrax Career mode allows gamers to engage in a deep, realistic career experience. You start out by designing your very own character, and then begin racing 125cc bikes. As you gain success in various circuits, arenas, and events, you’ll move up in the ranks to more powerful 250cc bikes, which can be customized and upgraded by joining racing teams.
As you win races and gain fame sponsors like Puma, Fox, and Oakley begin to line up at your door. Accept their offers and wear their gear and you’ll be handsomely rewarded. It’s very similar to the system in Acclaim’s SX Superstar, only much more integrated into the gameplay.
With its deep RPG-like elements like corporate sponsorships, unlockable gear, and a story, the career mode is the core of MTX. Since most of the game is locked and unavailable when you start it will take a long time to work your way through this massive racing experience.
After designing your character, you’ll be given your very own PDA. All the information regarding your career, available races, current objectives, etc. is accessed with your PDA. You’ll also receive email from your manager, invitations to ride for other racing teams, and sponsorship opportunities. You can also use the PDA to monitor your performance and check your trick book.
Control is simple yet sophisticated. The right trigger is the gas and the X is the brake. You can clutch with the left trigger which is useful for getting bursts of speed coming out of turns or landing from some big air. Like most MX and ATV games, you will also need to master the fine art of preloading your suspension.
Thankfully, MTX uses the analog stick to realistically simulate shifting your bodyweight forward and back. This makes it much more intuitive to compress your rear springs and use them to gain some extra air. It takes a bit of practice and timing and each section of each track require different amounts of preloading. You an also use this ability to shift your weight to ride wheelies.
When you start your career you will head to Travis Pastrana’s Compound, where you can engage in a variety of challenges and races and learn the basics of riding a motorcycle. After coming off a few weeks of MX Unleashed and it’s arcade-style play I was rather unprepared for the sim-like controls and physics in MTX Mototrax. It took me nearly 30-minutes of dedicated practice to learn to ride a wheelie and maintain it for a full lap around the truck to complete one of my first objectives.
Once you are comfortable with your bike and have finished off a few objectives you will want to enter a race and start working on that budding career. You can choose from MX (outdoor) and SX (stadium) races, and compete in a series of four races per series. As you progress through your career you will gain notoriety and hopefully pick up a few sponsors and bigger bikes.
Racing is only part of MTX. There is also a solid trick library that will take you a while to master. Most tricks are a combination of the D-pad (or analog stick) and the Y and B buttons. You’ll also need to combine these with preloading to make sure you have enough air to combo several tricks together for big points.
Whenever you need to get away from the buzz of the track you can always return to Travis’ compound for some Free Ride. There is virtually unlimited potential for exploration in this area and when you find and complete enough objectives you will unlock the MTX Freestyle Events that will test your mad trick skills.
When you have exhausted the single-player experience or just think you are ready to take your game to the public you can go head-to-head locally or challenge up to seven other riders using Xbox system link or Xbox Live in one of several multiplayer modes.
The Single Race lets you race in any of the MTX supercross or motocross levels. In Race Series you can race against opponents to vie for the title of best racer over the course of a series of motocross or supercross levels. As you win races, you accumulate points that will determine the ultimate winner.
King of the Hill pits every racer against each other in a battle for the gold helmet. To get the helmet, you have to ram into other riders, and the player that holds the helmet for a set amount of time wins.
Another variation of the helmet game is the Freestyle Battle: Here the goal is to grab the gold helmet; holding onto it scores you points. The first player to earn the preset score goal wins.
MTX uses all the built-in features of Xbox Live so you have your lobby, friends list, scoreboards, and the ability for Quick and Opti matches. Xbox Live allows you to easily setup and join races and the scoreboards track weekly and overall high scores plus lots of other personal stats like total mileage and lap times. The Xbox version also supports the communicator headset so you can chat in the lobbies and during the races.
MTX Mototrax runs and an unfaltering 60fps which not only makes it look fantastic but actually enhances the gameplay by giving you instant response to your control inputs. There is a definite presence of real world physics and you will empathize with each and every rider crash. You can almost feel your rider lose his balance as his botched attempt at a wheelie dumps him behind his bike. This is certainly one of the best performing motorcycle games I have ever played.
The riders are all nicely modeled. There is a wealth of options for creating your own character, and since a lot of people will be playing this online its important that the characters maintain some originality. There are virtually unlimited possible combinations of facial features, hairstyles, clothing, etc. and more gear becomes available as you earn new sponsors or unlock items.
In motion, the riders all move realistically as they bounce over rough sections of track or gracefully arc through the air. All of the stunts look fabulous and they chain together realistically. The rag doll physics make the crashes look excruciatingly painful and will have you groaning right along with your rider.
The 16 tracks are fantastic, both the indoor stadium courses and the outdoor motocross tracks. There are plenty of subtle real-world details, excellent textures, and a draw distance clear out to the horizon. Expect plenty of authentic sponsor signage decorating the borders of the track.
Special effects are plentiful and include dust, smoke, lighting effects, and even some rainy weather. MTX is just a very beautiful motorcycle racing game. The menus are easy to navigate and the HUD during the race displays all the necessary info along the top and bottom without getting in the way of the game.
Those of you looking for the most authentic racing experience possible can choose the first-person handlebar view. I dare you not to throw-up doing stunts from this view. Casual riders will probably want to settle for the more conventional chase view and there are plenty of exciting track cameras for the replays.
I would be lying if I said the incessant droning of motorcycles doesn’t wear thin after awhile. I was impressed that not only did the two and four stroke cycles sound different; they were authentically different. Just like riding in real life, you will soon learn to judge your speed and RPM’s by the sound of your bike. The Dolby Digital mix really opens up the sound experience and allows you to hear bikes in direct relation to your position.
The MTX soundtrack is massive, featuring 23 vocal tracks and 13 instrumental tracks from some of the most popular metal and punk bands today including; A.F.I., Disturbed, Dope, Faith No More, Funhouse, Jet, Metallica, Slipknot, and nearly a dozen others. It a powerful collection of music that fits the extreme nature of the game and the general lifestyle of the people that participate. Even with more than 30 tracks you will likely tire of the music before the game, so you will certainly appreciate the ability to play your own custom soundtracks.
The career mode is not nearly as long as I had hoped and will only keep you busy for 10-15 hours. Then you have the free ride and freestyle modes to unlock and explore, which will add a bit more to your playtime. The Dirt Wurx Track Builder is your virtual sandbox and allows you to piece together your own tracks then challenge others to race on them or swap designs online.
Of course, multiplayer racing is the lifeblood of this title and while the split-screen mode will offer a small taste of this experience the online modes are what make MTX truly standout. The commitment to quality is evident from the integration of all the major Xbox Live features to the extensive stat tracking system. If you ever wanted a reason to sign up for Xbox Live this is it.
There is no shortage of racing games for any console these days and the off-road scene is certainly covered with 4x4, ATV, and motocross games galore. MTX: Mototrax offers a quality racing experience with blazing visuals, realistic physics, and an excellent trick system.
With only 16 tracks and a fairly short career mode it’s apparent that Activision was counting on the online aspect to carry this title well beyond the single-player experience. Those destined to play alone may want to rent before plunking down $50, but online gamers will easily get their money’s worth. Alone or online, MTX is still a great ride that any motorcycle or racing fan should definitely experience.