Racing games have always been a secondary form of gaming entertainment for me. They’re fun, but like sports games, I can only play for so long before I find that it’s time to step away and play something with more substance. This has always made it hard for me to pay full retail for a racing game, because I know that it will take me an incredibly long time, filled with large gaps, to make the purchase worthwhile. Of course, games like Blur and Mario Kart provide enough fresh entertainment for me to run through in a short period of time, but they are definitely the exception to the rule on retail titles. This brings us to digital titles. With the dramatically lower cost of a downloadable XBLA/PSN title, getting my money’s worth out of it in a reasonable amount of time is much more feasible. Few downloadable racing games have really managed to have the quality I require, though. Mad Riders, an ATV racing game releasing today on PSN and tomorrow on XBLA from Techland and Ubisoft, finds a good balance between price and content.
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Techland is a hit or miss developer, receiving mixed reviews on titles like Nail’d and Dead Island, and deservedly awful reviews on games like Call of Juarez: The Cartel. Looking at their list of developed titles, I can honestly say that I’ve never played a Techland game until Mad Riders, and for that, I’m kind of thankful. My first hands-on impression of a Techland game, then, is actually quite good, in spite of certain flaws.
Mad Riders has good arcade mechanics. You’re not playing the Gran Turismo of ATV racers, but more the Burnout/NFS of ATV racers. You’re able to control direction and distance of your ATV in mid-air, while performing an increasing number of tricks as you progress through the game. The single player content features over 45 tracks spread out over multiple tournaments and multiple race types (standard racing, checkpoint racing, score racing, etc.). On top of the fun arcade mechanics, Mad Riders features special tokens that can increase your boost, recharge your boost, and unlock shortcuts through tracks. Unfortunately, racing through the tracks can become difficult due to poor clarity in direction for the player. You may come up on an area in an over-grown forest track that does not clearly state which way the track proceeds over the next hill. Only trial and error will really help you make your way through. Going slightly off course, however, results in a vehicle respawn. You don’t get much time for course correction.
At 800MSP/$9.99, Mad Riders provides more than enough content and entertainment for its price. The map design is punishing, both in keeping track of the race path and in how the game punishes you when you fail, but otherwise, the game has good mechanics and strong multiplayer content. If you’re a fan of ATV racers, this is the best ATV racer available as a downloadable game (excluding potential Games on Demand retail titles). Of course, since this is also the only downloadable ATV racer that comes to mind, be sure to take that with a grain of salt.
|Good arcade mechanics|
Good difficulty ramp
|Unintuitive map design|