Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Those screenshots down there for Mad Skills Motocross make it look like another simple racer, a la Excitebike, but that’s not the whole story.
Yes, you ride from left to right with bumps in the road and a single goal; to get to the finish first, but beneath the surface lay excellent physics, a great engine and one hell of an addictive game.
Competing against a computer opponent, it’s soon clear that the physics behind the game are one of the most important parts to master. As you ride over different bumps your bike will act in a certain way. Larger bumps will send you further in the air, but their curve will have an effect on what angle you fly and landing often requires a good knowledge of what will appear underneath you, so that you can prepare the right angle of descent.
The bike is also capable of performing stunts such as wheelies, somersaults and other manoeuvres, both in the air and on the ground. These have two effects; to speed you up and also to gain stars on a level. The stars aren’t important for you to win a race but, much like in games such as Angry Birds, they become a great challenge to collect.
Another challenge comes in the form of the Time Trial mode. Once you’ve completed each track in the main Career it will become unlocked in Time Trial and you can go about setting a new time, without worrying about beating your opponent. Everything is captured in the integrated Openfeint system, so you can compare with friends.
Openfeint achievements also help to offset the fact that Mad Skills Motocross has no multiplayer. With added support to set challenges for friends and, even better, a taunting system once you beat someone else’s challenge, the game almost makes up for not being able to race over WIFI or Bluetooth.
While the game doesn’t require high levels of graphical detail, the levels are well presented with some fantastic backdrops to stare at while your rider dismounts for the hundredth time. Everything moves along at a great pace with ease and button layouts never get in the way of the action.
Talking of buttons, the control options allow for several combinations, from using tilt or controls to balance your bike to choosing where you want the accelerator to be on the screen. While all the virtual controls are small, they feel comfortable without being too cramped.
If you’re not put off by a challenge, and there are some steep learning curves here, then Mad Skills Motocross is a great game to test your skills on. It feels original and keeps you coming back again and again for just one more challenge.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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