MX vs ATV Supercross – Preview

mx vs atv supercross preview feat

Normally when you hear the sound of trail bike engines, it’s due to some annoying 15 year old who’s just passed their CBT, ragging the poor restricted thing up and down your street at 1am. But this? This is where the sounds are meant to be heard.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen an MX vs ATV game. Mainly because the ownership of the studio has changed hands a few times, mostly due to the demise of THQ. So in fact it’s been a good three years since the last one ‘MX vs ATV Alive’ graced us. If you don’t know much about the franchise then the gameplay and the sensibility behind it comes from fans of the big X-Games style indoor arena dirt tracks. The ones those crazy Red Bull sponsored kids fly their bikes up and pull tricks like wild men celebrating the taming of a bucking bronco.

mx vs atv supercross preview 1One thing you notice as soon as you pick up MX vs ATV Supercross is that it has had a lot of care put in to making it work. From the most fundamental level there has been constant referral to real life riders for their take on how the game plays and even physics professors coming in to make sure that Newton’s hand is enforced correctly. All this has lead to one thing: An incredibly easy to pick up and play game. Now personally I don’t find racing games too hard to master with the exception of motorbike based games. Moto GP for example I find far too tricky to handle.

MX vs ATV Supercross however appears to have nailed it with their new intuitive, almost symbiotic control set up. You control the direction of the bike with the left stick and you control the counterweight of your body with the right. Sounds difficult but it really isn’t. Think of the first five minutes you spent getting used to the controls in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and you’ll soon become accustomed. Include in that a clutch control with the left trigger and you’ll be tackling those raised dirt corners like a demon… I’ve lost you haven’t I? Well dropping the clutch gives you a great getaway when you hit the gas. Much like a normal bike the kick you’ll get from hitting that biting point will shoot you forward a good deal more than if you didn’t use it. It is also great for race starts. Finally a simple right stick flick for getting the jumps on a bumper to control a trick makes this sound a whole lot more difficult than it actually is.

Which is something great about this game. Once you’ve taken a few minutes to master it, it really rewards you and you feel a lot better knowing you can do it. Most racing games reward you for hitting the right line after the 75th attempt to get that gold medal in training. This game has those pure racing rewards too but just getting to grips with it feels like an awesome achievement, when really the illusion is that it’s quite simple. 1-0 to the game.

Racing so far is a bit more difficult because the difficulty levels haven’t been set up fully yet but that only pushed me to get a great result and the obvious gains you get from hitting the air at the right time, sliding through the corner and shifting your bodyweight before dropping that clutch and zooming off is a great feeling. It’s made even better by how good the tracks are. Challenging? Yes, at times, but it’s the constant evolution of the track that makes it fun. Like rubbering in a tarmac track, the dirt will carve out lines throughout the track from your bikes and they will stay, affecting the contours of the track and adding some more bumps. If you have a big ol’ wipeout crash and skid your prone torso up a bank face first (which I did a few times) then that is also saved. You can go back around a lap later seeing the Moses-eqsue parting of the dirt and feeling the bump in the track it has caused.

There are many licensed riders, sponsors, parts manufacturers involved and the upgrade system is simple and effective. The bikes themselves come in various degrees of powers like the 250cc to the fun pump and squirt of the 100cc. Basically nothing detracts from the racing experience at all. But there has been a lot of care to get involved in the bikes themselves. Customising them, getting zoomed in and seeing what you can add or subtract from the bike is enjoyable and the closest you’ll get without getting yourself caked in grease and oil. I already miss my racing green 250cc with the gold wheels. *sniffs*

The game itself was a lot of fun and when it’s complete it will certainly be a great alternative to the current crop of four wheel games which after a while get a bit asinine. The bad news? Well it is previous generation so it will be PS3 and Xbox 360. The good news? The price. Completely aware that this game is a last generation tech, it will be priced accordingly. That in itself is a refreshing change, but from the shadows of what could have been a completely doomed franchise out of the control of anyone involved is coming an enjoyable, easy to master and rewarding game from Nordic Games that should definitely be worth investing your time in later this year.

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Screenshots

MX vs ATV Supercross 9 MX vs ATV Supercross 8 MX vs ATV Supercross 7 MX vs ATV Supercross 6 MX vs ATV Supercross 5 MX vs ATV Supercross 4 MX vs ATV Supercross 3 MX vs ATV Supercross 2 MX vs ATV Supercross 1

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How I Survived The Steam Summer Sale On A Mac

… I didn’t

So in case you didn’t know, I don’t have a PC. Well I have a PC I can use but I am an iMac user. In fact my decision to go to Apple computers was partly because I get too distracted by gaming on a PC to be productive. So how exactly did I manage to succumb to the wallet emptying frenzy of the Steam summer sale?

Well indie gaming played a big part of that. There are also some games that I have in preparation for them to come to Mac. But Steams support of the platform is growing very quickly. So here’s a quick list of what I managed to buy during the sale and a tiny bit before it too.


 

  • the walking dead 203 2Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Counter-Strike (including source, GO, etc)
  • Endless Space
  • Goat Simulator
  • Kill Fun Yeah (gifted)
  • candles amnesia 1Noir Syndrome
  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch
  • Pixel Piracy
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Tomb Raider
  • The Walking Dead
  • goat simulator trailerThe Walking Dead: Season Two
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced

 

For a platform that doesn’t have a lot of gaming, I think that’s a very good haul. Tomb Raider is the only disappointment because I need OSX Mavericks to run it and I really don’t want to upgrade yet. But it was £2? And it stopped me getting the enhanced PS4 edition so I’m ok with that.

But, there were a few PC stragglers that I got too, partly because I’m sure they will come on Mac at some point. Those were Alan Wake/Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and Banished.

So despite having a non-gaming machine I still managed to get eighteen games. EIGHTEEN! If I had a PC you can imagine that I would have gone hambone on the finances.

The steam summer sale every year is met with fear and trepidation for ones financial wellbeing. Let’s be honest as well, the next generation of gaming is unlikely to fully hit us for another three months, maybe longer? So it makes sense to buy a heap load of games that I don’t actually have time to play.

the walking dead season 2 4The Black Friday-esque hysteria that gamers go through every time this happens is great. You can almost feel the shame dripping from the Facebook posts, Twitter updates and the like, of people who have realised they have a problem… I have a problem.

In all honesty I came in to the sale like a fully researched shopper. I wanted three of the games I actually purchased. Only three. Those were The Walking Dead games and Goat Simulator. Because the latter was finally Mac ready and the formers, well I don’t need an excuse to get those.

But I do find it interesting that I’m still buying games that I kind of had no intention of playing just because they looked okay and were at a decent price. A friend of mine text me saying he’d always wanted to play The Witcher because it looked interesting. I now own two of them. Endless Space was a nice looking game in the screenshots and the trailer, so I got it. Super Meat Boy was fun to watch and I imagine immensely frustrating to play. Pixel Piracy may have some sea legs behind it and Octodad has eight of those sea legs.

So looking back… I’ve mugged myself off quite successfully really and that is fantastic for gaming. I might have spent about £35-£45 all in all but I got a lot out of it, despite being a Mac gamer and arguably I got very good games out of it.

tomb raider 2Which is why it is sad that my best and favorite sale purchase didn’t come from Steam but from Xbox Live over the same period. That was Sonic Generations. What an excellently fun game that is!

The thing is with gaming, I find myself looking at co-op games more and more now, especially as more of my friends are separated by distance and family commitments that remote gaming is far more important and we still want to share the joy of a game. I don’t mean the kill all the noobs sharing but the working together sharing. And the increase of games on the Mac and the Steam sale combined really does start to link my PC playing friends and me closer together.

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All I need now is for GOG to hurry up and make the Rollercoaster Tycoon and Heroes of Might and Magic series available for Mac and I’m sorted.

[author]

Alan Wake – Returning to Bright Falls

alan wake 3

Every six months this happens to me. Pretty much like clockwork in fact. Everyone has their go-to game that they pick up and play again; in fact everyone probably has several. I myself have several but this one game in particular keeps surging itself back in to my psyche like the darkness in it is making me one of the Taken.

Maybe its because I am a writer by occupation and am often enthralled by Stephen King. His book “On Writing” is possibly one of the greatest self-help/autobiography/training manuals on writing out there and I implore anyone to read it, writer, fan or otherwise. Alan Wake somehow finds that element in me that King and others evoke to pure enjoyment and amazement at their craft.

There is something very multi faceted about Wake as a character that draws me to him, although you could be forgiven for missing it. Sam Lake’s character creation is a good lesson of how to embrace the cliché and go running with it. Max Payne is a very obvious one, the self-destructive cop/former cop, driven by remorse, self-loathing, painkillers and booze. His inner monologue reads like some of the most prevalent pulp characters. Wake is different in how he is driven by anger, frustration, impatience and hubris, which ultimately disguises his own self-loathing, his fears and his nightmares, especially so early in his inability to protect Alice because of his temperament.

alan wake 1In literature terms, we would call Alan Wake a product of intertextuality, something you could also say of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and even Max Payne. It is a piece of work that takes elements from other previous works and is directly inspired by them. Not copying at all but certainly Alan Wake feels like an homage.

The tropes of things seen to be evil but aren’t, messages hidden in plain sight, memory loss, fear of the dark, clinics, backwater towns… Twin Peaks and its surreal setting and happenings play a big part in the inspiration of the game. As big a part as Scarface and Miami Vice does for Vice City and it’s so enjoyable because of it. But not overbearingly in to a complete copy or pastiche of it, like Vice City effectively is. The setting especially brings more to Alan Wake than a setting does to most games.

Mainly because even four years on, using the Xbox 360, it still feels beautifully atmospheric and seeing the visuals in the PC version it is even better. Sure there’s a few niggles with the characters face animations but given you spend 90% of your time in a third person over the shoulder view, it’s very excusable.

Bright Falls has that magical sense about it that keeps you returning to a game environment. It is beautiful and scary. The decision to scale back from the original open-world intention is one to be lauded as you could see how the element of limited exploration heightens the suspense.

Being a regular consumer of boxsets, Netflix or otherwise, the game’s episodic format is especially refreshing and definitely one that works for the type of game it is. The cliffhanging suspense, the cinematic moments and the beautifully soundtrack and original score lifts this game above the more resource gather shoot and run style horror games that occupy most of the genre. You feel like you’re taking it at the right pace, whether or not you actually are. You get that feeling that it’s ok to put it down, go make a coffee and do some actual work. You’ve reached a natural point to stop and resume another time… You don’t actually do that but you get that feeling.

So why am I writing about my love for a four year old game? Well, and let’s excuse American Nightmare from this equation for a moment (it was a nice enough game which embellished the story of Wake’s inner battle, if not a bit repetitive), it really deserves a sequel. A sequel it is sadly not going to get. As Sam Lake himself said in a recent interview with Polygon, Alan Wake was not profitable enough to justify making a second, especially with it being next-gen and with Quantum Break being Remedy’s primary focus.

However I could see a time, given that the Microsoft exclusivity deal on it has surely or will surely run out rather soon, that a sequel could be touted and crowdfunded. There is enough die hard Wake fans that it could happen and we definitely want to explore the ocean that Wake is trapped in a little more. We’ve read the novelisation (and by the way, kudos on the strategy guide that reads like a book. It really reminds me of good old school game manuals that had care and artistic impression in them), and we are hungry for more.

alan wake 2

Sadly that doesn’t look like it will happen and whilst Max Payne 3, despite the lack of Remedy’s involvement, satiated our appetite for their archetypical droll characters it didn’t relieve the fear of the dark for us Wake fans.

The scary dark nightmare we played through that makes up Alan Wake’s novel ‘Departure’ got us to sit up, get excited and take note of how horror and thriller genres aren’t just the realm of indie games or Japanese franchises. I hope sometime soon we get to play through its sequel ‘Return.’ Until then, back in to Bright Falls I will go.

Do you have fond memories of Alan Wake? Why don’t you discuss them here, on Facebook or via Twitter.

[author]

Why All The Doom 4 Anti-hype, Bethesda?

Trying to read between the lines when it comes to gaming news can be tricky at times. My current brainpower is currently attempting to decipher the news coming from Bethesda/ID over Doom 4.

When I first got in to writing about games, Duke Nukem Forever was coming out. In fact I reviewed it but the news and the hype that Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford managed to generate around it without shedding so much as a peek of gameplay was quite impressive and deflected from the truth that… There’s no polite way to say this. It was disappointingly shit.

At present though, with the beta release of Doom 4 around the corner and the reveal of the game at QuakeCon (a self imposed deadline admittedly), there seems to be a lot of stories that is designed to (industry speak) manage expectations.

Being a purchaser of Wolfenstein, which coincidently is slowly being recognised for being one of the year’s best and most fun releases, I have access to this beta along with a few other GameJar people. I can imagine we will be furiously fragging things with a BFG and waxing lyrical about it.

But all of these sound bites that are appearing like “Don’t assume it will be awesome” do make you worry.

If you haven’t heard, there is a lot from Bethesda warning against people assuming a game will be good due to the legacy of the franchise. Which if you are a relatively sane human being you would know not to believe. But Bethesda’s Marketing guy Pete Hines… Yes, marketing guy, is saying to remember how good Wolfenstein was before we got the current iteration in the franchise.

His logic is sound of course, it’s been an age since Doom 3 and things have changed massively. They will need to go into this game to create something amazing in its own right. But this anti-hype, this reverse psychology against it is a little bit disconcerting.

wolfenstein review 3With Wolfenstein, the game returned a bit to its original simple FPS sentimentalities. Something that (apart from spending ages looking at the floor for armor like a pig sniffing for truffles) was very successful for that game. It had a good story, the gameplay allowed the story to breathe and it was simple enough but challenging to play that you didn’t get left out even as a casual gamer. It was a huge success.

So why, given that the Doom beta was a big ploy to sell the game, would Bethesda start letting people down already? Surely the game already isn’t that bad that they are working on damage limitation? Given that it is a Doom game, I’m guessing the industry hype that will inevitably come from journalists and bloggers alike will shift the units.

So I can’t decide whether they are trying to distance themselves from the success of the Wolfenstein game and let us down early and easy or if this is all a clever ploy to keep their cards as close to their chest as possible.

Given the dominance in the FPS market for consoles with Battlefield and Call of Duty, you could see why they might distance themselves a bit. Quake has always been know for its fast paced and adrenalin filled multiplayer but only on the PC. This has been well and truly usurped by the current trendsetters for console.

If Doom can channel that and create a great multiplayer game that has that speed, especially as these new consoles could easily handle the frame rate for it, then it has the possibility to present a big challenge to the established few. Especially as the taste for those games is slowly diminishing among some gamers, it could be a good time for some Quake-esque Doom multiplayer to strike.

I just can’t tell if this is honesty or a clever way to hype the game on the footage and beta rather than legacy. I can’t decide if this is admission of faults or underhanded hubris. I can tell that I’m probably trying too hard to read between the lines here but, for me at least, I see something either being brilliant or whatever your personal description of the opposite of brilliant is.

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