A Flat Tire
MX vs ATV Supercross Encore successfully simulates the feel and sounds of motocross racing, but fails to immerse the player in the experience. The gameplay is sound, but becomes irritatingly repetitive once I lose the motivation to continue playing. Sports simulators, such as the Madden and NBA 2K franchises, avoid monotony by having a variety of modes and options to keep the player involved. MX vs ATV Supercross Encore lacks such variety and this prevents the game from ever rising above mediocrity.
Motocross vs. ATV Supercross Encore recreates the experience of motorcross racing. The controls are intuitive and easy to understand for new players. There’s a throttle and a brake button and you need to balance those two in order to maintain speed and accurately turn. It is also vital that you balance your racer midair. If you don’t, then you either crash or do a comical wheelie for a few moments before crashing. You can perform stunts in midair by holding down a button and moving the right thumbstick different directions.
The game consists of single races, a career mode, online races, and local races. The single races have the most variety. You can race on tracks as MXs, ATVs, or MXs vs ATVs. You can also compete in rhythm racing, free ride, and waypoint challenges. In career mode, you compete in MX, ATV, or MX vs. ATV racing circuits. You race a number of events, earning points for your results in each race. The winner of the circuit is whoever has the most points at the end of all the events. Completing and placing in races unlocks upgrades for your bike or ATV and unlocks new events and race tracks. There are a lot of upgrades and tracks that you can earn through career mode. Online races are the same as single races, except you compete against real players online instead of CPU racers. There’s also local races, where you can compete against another player in the room.
If you’re like me, then the first mode you check out in any sports simulator is the career mode. And here, MX vs. ATV Supercross Encore falls disappointingly short. Part of the reason I play these games is for fantasy fulfillment. I am fully aware that I will never be a professional athlete. But games like Madden, NBA 2K, and MLB The Show, allow me to live out this fantasy through the game. I can create my own character and throughout the course of the game expand his abilities and increase his skill. This progression system keeps me invested in the game. I want to keep playing because I want to see my character grow and achieve certain goal, such as winning a championship, leading the league in points, or becoming the MVP.
MX vs. ATV Supercross Encore’s career mode has no progression system. You can choose from one of about fifty or so racers that all look the same. You compete in races, but winning only unlocks new tracks and gear. Yes, the gear upgrades your bike so it performs slightly better, but I didn’t feel like I’d really earned it. I unlocked gear when I didn’t even place in races sometimes. I didn’t feel like I was working toward anything. All I did by winning was unlock new races and tracks so I could continue the same racing in slightly different tracks with slightly better gear. This lack of progression highlighted the repetition of the gameplay.
Performing tricks and stunts was also a major letdown. One of the best things about motocross are the X Games style tricks the athletes can do. Doing a flip or a 360 stunt was something I was looking forward to. So I tried and crashed. Tried and crashed. Finally, around my fifteenth attempt, I successfully completed a fender grab. All that happened was the name of the trick flashed on the screen and the crowd cheered a percentage of a decibal louder. That was all. It was such a disappointment. In all other sports games, you receive validation for completing something. Slamming a dunk, throwing a touchdown, striking a batter out, all give you points or something substantial to validate you for your achievement. While it’s fun to pull off stunts, there’s no practical reason for it. Best case scenario, you land the trick and nothing changes. Worst case scenario, and this happens more often, you crash and end up falling out of first place. It’s also irritating that you can’t pull the stunt list up while you’re racing. So unless you have the certain trick memorized, it’s impossible to perform a specific stunt.
The gameplay becomes horrendously repetitive once you realize that racing around in circles is all the game has to offer. I was frustrated that there was no other modes besides racing. I was hoping the game would have an X Games style stunt competition. You would compete against CPU or online players to see who could perform the best trick. It would simulate the feel of real X Games, which is definitely the fantasy of anyone who’s playing this game. Or you could have a challenge mode. For example, it would be a standard race, but you’d have to jump through hoops or avoid certain obstacles. Anything along these lines would’ve added much needed depth and variety to the game.
The visuals are on par with most other games. The bikes and tracks are well animated and look realistic. Each bike or ATV looks different and can be customized so that it stands out from all the others. The audio is excellent. The roar of the bikes and the cheering of the crowd make you feel like you’re really experiencing a motocross event. My only complaint is the soundtrack seems to be the same four rock songs on a loop. Eventually I just turned off the music altogether.
Unless you’re an avid motocross fan or someone who thoroughly enjoys racing games, then there isn’t much value. The gameplay began to get repetitive for me about five hours in and only increased in annoyance the longer I played. The career mode is not immersive enough to commit a fraction of the time I’ve put into other games, such as Madden or PGA Golf. The single races have more variety, but it eventually becomes tedious playing a CPU opponent over and over again. Maybe it’d be more fun competing against real people, either online or locally, but it’s hard to imagine the game not becoming stale after a few hours.
In conclusion, MX vs ATV Supercross Encore successfully simulates the look and feel of motocross racing. However, it’s weak career mode and repetitive gameplay drag the game down, prevent it from rising to excellence. The monotonous game modes and lack of progression ruin the immersion that is vital to a successful sports simulator.