Racing on a virtual dirt bike has been fun ever since Nintendo debuted Excitebike back in the mid-'80s and MX Nitro is here to offer some fast-paced trick-based enjoyment of its own. So, strap on a helmet and elbow pads and get ready to race!
A few years back, Mad Dog Games released MX Nitro and this Unleashed edition of it carries over enhancements and includes the Blood and Concrete DLC. If you're like me and haven't played the original then this is a good time to check it out. Anyway, MX Nitro definitely looks like the popular Trials franchise but don't be fooled; it's a vastly different experience. For starters, it places an emphasis on racing as opposed to overcoming physics-based challenges. Speaking of which, the racing gameplay is spot-on as you really have to give it your all if you want to win. You basically hold the right trigger to accelerate, the left for nitro, lean forward and back, and perform stunts. The trick system is intuitive yet fully-featured as you use 3 buttons to perform various stunts either in mid-air or during wheelies. You can push the trick buttons in certain orders and use different combinations of them as well and there are over 50 tricks to master.
The combination of trying to perform tricks in order to charge your boost while ensuring that your forward momentum remains optimal makes for an exciting formula. Plus, one aspect that elevates the gameplay to a new level is the fact that there's a substantial variety of goals to achieve and tracks to master. For example, although most challenges are races, some will task you with trying to get the highest trick score, performing synchronous tricks with another rider, beating bosses, and remaining ahead so you don't get eliminated. Additionally, there are sub-goals to try and achieve which grant extra cash upon completion such as jump a certain height or pop a wheelie for a few seconds. When you combine all of this with the fact that there are tons of tracks with unique layouts, you're looking at an impressively diverse and rewarding game, especially considering how challenging some of the events can be.
Although MX Nitro: Unleashed doesn't look as good as most current gen racers, I definitely appreciated its detailed environments. Whenever I play racing games, I often find myself getting distracted by admiring the view and I certainly did while playing MX Nitro: Unleashed. Whether you're racing in a tree-filled forest, on city rooftops, or in a brightly-lit stadium where fireworks and flames often trigger; it's hard not to appreciate your surroundings. Plus, the rocking soundtrack is fitting and adds a fun layer of grit.
As I've already touched upon, MX Nitro: Unleashed isn't as physics-based as other motocross games which is suitable for a racer but one aspect that feels out of place is the fact that the physics are far too forgiving. You essentially have to land on your head or smack into a wall in order to wipe out. Also, when you're spinning like crazy in mid-air, you can easily stop and adjust your angle right before landing so it doesn't feel like you have much momentum while flipping through the air. On the other end of the equation, the AI opponents can be too unforgiving. Even after having a flawless run, your opponents might be far in the lead thus giving you little hope to claim victory. You could grind for cash and upgrade your bike but that's not fun. That reminds me; there isn't much customization because all you can do is buy more bikes and generically upgrade them to new levels which takes away from the sense of personal satisfaction.
If you enjoy motocross games with 2D momentum-based gameplay then MX Nitro: Unleashed is sure to delight with its challenging events and elaborate yet intuitive trick system. It can be frustrating at times but that only makes eventual success even sweeter.
- + Tight and challenging racing gameplay with a fun trick system
- + Good variety of terrain and challenges
- + Great-looking and detailed tracks
- - Physics are a bit too forgiving
- - AI opponents can be downright brutal
- - Could use more customization options