With the recent release of MXGP2 becoming the first realistic dirt bike racing offering to grace the Xbox One, it was only a matter of time before we saw competition popping up, vying for the top dog status. MX vs ATV Supercross Encore is that competition, and with the added vehicular option of the four-wheeled variety thrown into the mix, with ATV’s running riot throughout, you’d expect that the guys over at Rainbow Studios would have created a clear winner in the fight for best Supercross game of the year.

This instalment however isn’t on its maiden outing as 2015 saw this title release on Xbox 360 as MX vs ATV Supercross. The latest Encore addition provides a remastered experience, along with some fresh content to entice fans of the series back for more. So I took a look to see what was on offer and to find out if this was a worthy competitor or dirt filled failure.

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From the off, players are greeted with a nice selection of options from the main menu. Single race gives players the option to get to grips with the various tracks and vehicles, getting a general feel for the game in a one-off non-competitive race setting. During my experience, I realised this is something that all player must try first should you wish to be at least challenging for a podium spot come the end of each track showdown. There are five different options to choose between and with each of the racing disciplines – National, Supercross, Waypoint, Rhythm Racing and Free Ride – open from the start, the option is there to pick from whatever you may want to do without having to make any game progress whatsoever.

The second option available is Career. This is where the vast majority of gameplay will take place, and it’s here that all the practice put into perfecting those horribly bumpy ‘Whoops’ and the mastering of every tail bending ‘Whip’ in the Single race mode is really put to the test.

Career is presented as quite an open event with players able to choose between a number of championships. These are split into various different stages with regional events and specific engine sizes in place, as well as the option to run through mixed vehicle championships. For example, I chose to start of my mud flicking experience with the ‘250 West’ series, taking part in an eight event championship, with the goal of finishing with enough points after all events were through to obtain a top three finish! This is the task for every championship although some of the later championships such as the ‘450 Championship’ require you to master your menacing mud mangler through as many as seventeen races of jumps and bumps. If your efforts have been deemed good enough, then you’ll pick up the deserved Bronze, Silver or Gold trophy that accompanies a successful outing afterwards.

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The final racing option is the multiplayer offering. Multiplayer is split into two options with Xbox Live and Local both offering a different challenge. But for me, the experience wasn’t really that great at all.

When racing online, you are given the choice of discipline in which you fancy showing your skills before being placed into a lobby to start, however what became quickly noticeable was that instead of being greeted with a nice full lobby of players to go metal to metal with, I was instead placed into an empty lobby and forced to wait for the odd soul to pop their head up for a challenge. With just a handful of players online, the few races I was able to take part in would only consist of a maximum of three players, including myself. For a sport that sees the slightest mistake punished with ragdoll effects, throwing you over the handlebars and into the dirt, most races would end up with me driving around the track on my own, with no competition, due to other players rage-quitting before even reaching the second lap and prior to hitting the collection of small bumps in the track!

As for Local Multiplayer, the issues are rather similar, whilst rage-quitting wasn’t present (I know how to pick my friends), the awful game mechanics were and the slightest wrong move, throwing you over the handlebars, can be the deciding result. No matter whether it’s the first lap or the last, the experience is predictable and dull.

The other options found within the menus include vehicle and rider customisation along with the ‘Motoclub Depot’ – a store from which to buy new content. However, one thing that I felt was truly abysmal was the lack of vehicle manufacturers available without purchasing extra content. Whilst the vehicle and rider customisation options are more than acceptable, there are only two fictional manufacturers available named after the developers and publishers respectively with Rainbow and Nordic Games being the in-game manufacturers. Other well-known manufacturers are available such as KTM, Yamaha and Kawasaki among others but not without the required DLC purchase beforehand. With each vehicle costing a small fortune and bundles mounting up to more than the cost of the game, should you decide you want a bit of everything, the cost involved makes it feel rather short changed. Vehicles aren’t the only thing restricted by DLC either, a vast number of tracks and championships are also locked behind the doors of a mountain of paid content. That said, with the large number of tracks and events already available, it doesn’t feel quite as much like you need to purchase these in order to enjoy the game.

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But for those of you who don’t mind paying out a little extra for a more realistic experience, don’t race to the store just yet!

That’s because the gameplay and graphical features on offer in MX vs ATV Supercross Encore leave a lot to be desired. Despite being a remaster of last year’s 360 release, the textures on offer are hardly worthy of a place on a current gen console, and with hard to handle controls and terrible physics in place, racing comes down to luck rather than any real skill. With the before mentioned ragdoll physics either too sensitive or non-existent each time you misplace a landing, many races become unfair and near impossible to play properly. The highly unwanted ‘rubberband A.I.’ is ever present throughout the game too, so even perfect laps can see you fall at the last corner and lose to an opponent who has bailed multiple times.

On top of this each and every trick in the game requires much more air-time to pull off than is achievable on any track and it seems like there hasn’t been any real time put into the core mechanics of a once solid series. Encore feels like it has been rushed out to add some competition to the market, instead of focusing on what the true fans of the series would want.

Although a lot of the extra content series veterans will be interested in sits behind a number of paid transactions, there are two new race types for fans to sink their teeth into without paying any extra. These come in the form of Waypoint races and Rhythm races.

Waypoint races are my favourite race type within the game – these are point to point races along long and dusty trails that really allow for freedom, bringing a pleasing cross-country type racing experience. However, Rhythm racing is not one I found myself enjoying so much. For those of you unaccustomed to the ins and outs of competitive dirt bike racing, Rhythm Racing is the Supercross equivalent of a Fast & Furious drag race with the addition of a constant flow of bumps and jumps in the tracks.

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Despite my numerous attempts, each race was met with the same outcome; either the A.I rubber-banding off into the uncatchable distance or the controls deciding to choose their own input and send my rider hurtling over the handlebars for the nine-hundredth time. With game mechanics proving a stumbling block every time I hit the restart option, it became apparent that more work is needed to balance out the gameplay to ensure a truly enjoyable experience is available.

Overall MX vs ATV Supercross Encore is a poor remaster of a game that simply offers a lesser experience than that found in older titles from the series. And with poor mechanics and shoddy textures offering nothing more than a basic experience, this is one remaster that will quickly go down as a waste of time and resources rather than the engaging experience it really should have been.

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