Review – MX vs ATV Legends
I like Rainbow Studios, but I’m starting to worry a bit about them. The company is known for two different IPs: MX vs ATV and Monster Jam. The first time I played my first games in each of these franchises, I was satisfied with their quality, but felt there was little else you could do with their limited scopes. That ended up being true with Monster Jam Steel Titans 2, which came out less than two years after its predecessor, being basically the same as before, just with slightly better visuals. The brand new MX vs ATV title, called MX vs ATV Legends, suffers from this same problem as well.
The power of the PS5 has allowed for studios to come up with some really impressive off-road racing games, namely Dirt 5. My hopes were high for MX vs ATV Legends because of that. I wanted to see Rainbow Studios creating a larger, more interesting open world for me to explore, as well as delivering even better circuit races, all powered by the excellent features provided by the DualSense’s haptic feedback and triggers. I have no idea what happened behind the scenes, if the game suffered from a short development cycle, or if it suffered from having a low production budget, but there’s not a lot in this game that surpasses what was offered in the previous MX vs ATV game.
Sure, it plays well enough, but that’s because all MX vs ATV games feature good controls. I honestly like the fact they aren’t as realistic as, say, the Monster Energy Supercross games, making for a much more accessible experience, especially for newcomers. It also runs at a smooth 60fps, which is the bare minimum in this day and age. It’s also somewhat pretty. By that I mean that it features some gorgeous environments and lighting effects while racing in closed circuits, specifically.
Sadly, even though MX vs ATV Legends looks impressive at times, it is riddled with graphical issues that ruined any semblance of immersion. Its open world looks barren and completely uninspired, a far cry from the excellent playground featured in All Out. Whenever you explore this map, you are also greeted with a ton of textural pop-in, a rare sight in a system powered by SSD technology. Finally, in one of the most baffling graphical glitches I’ve seen in recent memory, every single racer that shows up onscreen has their animations locked to around 10 frames per second, as if you were playing against other racers online with a really poor connection.
That’s not the only glaring glitch featured in MX vs ATV Legends. In a weird turn of events, the sound department is all botched, and I have no idea why. The game does feature a decent soundtrack, comprised of alternative and modern nu metal, but its mixing is all over the place. There are instances in which I’m racing and the music simply stops for a second or so, only to come back at a much louder volume than before. In other moments, my bike’s engine would stop echoing any semblance of sound. This is a weird case of a game featuring a decent soundtrack in which I’d recommend playing on mute, if you ever decide to tackle it, that is.
Elsewhere, there’s not a lot to talk about the content featured in MX vs ATV Legends. Pros and cons pretty much cancel each other. Circuit races are really fun, but are bogged down by the aforementioned bland open world. Driving ATVs and buggies is great, but you need to tackle a slow and repetitive career mode in order to unlock them and use them in an official race. There aren’t that many new modes and types of races, being just more of the same, with a slightly improved coat of paint. In fact, this is the best way to describe MX vs ATV Legends as a whole.
MX vs ATV Legends is not a bad game, but considering the benefits granted by improved hardware, and the ever-increasing scope of the racing genre, I expected a bit more from it other than just “the same, but slightly prettier”. For everything it does right, such as its great environments and lighting effects, as well as great controls, it bogs the experience down with terrible animations, a plethora of glitches, and an open world that is way less exciting than the one seen in its predecessor. With that said, you can still have quite a bit of fun with this game, especially if you’re a fan of dirt bikes and off-road racing. Just be aware that you’ll need to turn a blind eye to a lot of jank.
A mixed bag. Environments are gorgeous, lighting effects are crisp, and the level design is decent. On the other hand, animations are atrocious, and there is an insane amount of textural pop-in.
A bit less realistic than other motocross games in the market, but honestly, for the best. With that said, some of the physics are a bit janky. ATVs and buggies control well enough as well.
Even though MX vs ATV Legends boasts a halfway decent nu-metal soundtrack, its sound mixing is so botched, and the entire sound output is so glitchy, that the game is best enjoyed on mute.
Fun Factor: 6.0
It might be running on a prettier engine, with better graphics, but at its core, MX vs ATV Legends is more of the same. Even if its normal circuit races are more exciting than before, its open world is a lot less engaging. Only recommended for die-hard enthusiasts.
Final Verdict: 6.5
MX vs ATV Legends is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of MX vs ATV Legends was provided by the publisher.