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MX2002 | review | game | Lollipop


(THQ for the PS2)
by Eric Johnson

Motorcross, like all racing sports that don't involve gambling, strikes me as astonishingly boring for all involved except the competitors. All those motorcycle riders, busting their asses to be the lead bike around those eccentric, pock-marked dirt loops, their engines whining like castrato chainsaws, must have one hell of a time out there. The enthusiast must see ways to exploit the corners, crevices, and ramps that litter these dusty tracks, but I don't know shit about it, so all I see is a bunch of other people having a good time. MX2002 works well, partly because motorcross is inherently fun for the participant, partly because the controls are smooth and easy to use, and partly because it has so many play modes, an enthusiast could piss away an amazing amount of time playing it. Like every other hobby this country has to offer, there are those who've decided to add an "X-treme" element to the sport by doing tricks while airborne. Indeed, some of the finest "when stunts go bad" video footage involves jackasses on motorcycles, so there's the inclusion of that sort of action in this game. But consumers should not be fooled; at it's core, MX2002 is a racing game, and a decent one at that. So while customizing your jumping helps to win races, and plays a strong part in certain play modes, winning races is the number one priority.

Winning races, more often than not, means paying attention to how you land. Prepping yourself for a long jump involves some strategic thinking. Landing unbalanced or on flat ground can bleed precious speed and will make you lose your position. You can also advance in races by cutting corners as closely as possible without becoming entangled with other players. As simple as it sounds, that's all there is to it. And the simplicity of the techniques used both helps and hinders the enjoyment of the game. Driving is made easier and a great deal more fun by a simple control system where one joystick controls throttle while the other steers the bike and its airborne pitch. Many racing games are ruined by viscerally detached controls, so the ease and accessibility with which the bike is controlled in MX2002 should not be understated. Using sticks rather than buttons gives you greater control over the bike, unlike the classic racing problem of crashing into a wall while trying to take a corner. The tricks are relatively easy to pull off, for the most part, but unlike dedicated extreme sports games, the stunts are decidedly less flashy because the real-life physics of doing backflips on a motorcycle are damned tough.

Other play modes are achieved by attaining certain goals during the races, Breaking a speed record or maintaining the lead for the entirety of a race will allow you to spend some time jumping over school buses. There are a number of these alternate play modes, and they really add to the entertainment value of the game. Access to other bikes and riders really doesn't amount to much as there is relatively little to differentiate them. The menu interface between races sucks, but the rest of the game has an authentic look and feel – the classic dirt-spewing engine whine has been wonderfully preserved. Overall, MX2002 is an entertaining and faithful translation of a sport composed mainly of guys who never got over the fun of riding dirt bikes through the woods when they were in grade school.

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