Motocross Madness (Xbox360)

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Join the army, they said. See the world, they said. Yeah, and probably come home in a body bag… If I’m going to go out, I want to go out in style! I don’t want a medal, I want fame! Medals are for bookcases and mantles but fame is for the real blood and guts heroes. Medals get you face time with the President but fame puts hair on your chest and outfits on your Avatar.

Motocrossing is undoubtedly the cleanest fun you’re going to have with a helmet on your head and mud on your pants. It’s fast, challenging and just plain awesome. From start to finish you’ll be flying like an eagle and performing aerial pirouettes like a Russian skydiver. They say motocross is aerial ballet with spokes and chains++ and you’ll certainly feel like a young Mikhail Baryshnikov on Red Bull when you’re ramping your bike over pyramids and kangaroos.

Motocross Madness Screenshot 3

Aerial Ballet? Are You Wheelie Serious?

It’s been nearly fifteen years since Motocross Madness first fixed our insatiable need for two-wheeled high-flying stunts racing and now it’s making a comeback on Xbox 360, only this time to keep its youthful gleam Microsoft has given it a facelift.

Anyone familiar with the original 1998 Motocross Madness or its sequel will remember them as games that focused on realism. With this new Xbox 360 version any attempts at realism have been tossed to the side with the inclusion of Xbox Avatar FameStar and it’s now clearer than mud that it’s not the developer’s intention that this racing game should be taken too seriously, and yet anyone hoping for some decent racing will still be pleasantly surprised.

Motocross Madness Screenshot 2

For most it is simply impossible to take any Xbox game with Avatars at all seriously and yet despite this new version of Motocross Madness possessing some infantine charm, under the hood it offers some serious gameplay. It’s certainly not the next evolution in realistic racers but for a game intended to rev up the fun it has covered all the bases and thankfully the classic adrenaline-filled gameplay has been preserved even if the realistic graphics have not.

Look Ma, No Hands!

Motocross Madness is easy to pick up and has a well established progression curve for you to master the basics before proceeding to the more challenging tracks and fancier motorbikes. All the way along there is plenty of cash to be earned and burned to upgrade your bikes or buy new ones, slowly but surely growing your modest fleet into a formidable and eventually nigh-unbeatable armada. Of course, you will need to pull off some pretty impressive tricks to earn the XP necessary to unlock the extra tracks and upgrades but this can easily be achieved even just by crashing and bailing really spectacularly.

Racing along an offroad track is plenty of fun at the best of times but to really spice things up racers are rewarded with extra boost for entertaining the crowds with death-defying stunts, slides, and wheelies – the real challenge is determining when to pull out your heart-stopping triple scrub jakaranda mothball, knowing all too well that an impressive stunt easily becomes a woeful crash when timed badly.

Motocross Madness Screenshot 4

When your Avatar isn’t busy on the offroad, there’s maintenance and fiddling with bikes to be done to upgrade their speed, acceleration and stunt capabilities so you can get back out there and earn even more cash.

If the stock standard race is no longer proving to be a challenge for you then there’s always rival mode, free-roaming exploration mode, and stunts mode to try out and use to boost your XP, earn even more cash and show off your two-wheeling prowess on the social leaderboards. For a more challenging experience involving live human opposition (as opposed to the time trials or ghost races) jump online or get cracking in two-player split-screen – there’s something for everyone’s taste!

What’s the Deal? Buy This Game? Do, or Doughnut?

Avatar goofiness notwithstanding, Motocross Madness remains a great racing game for anyone looking for an interesting and entertaining title that will keep you coming back for more. The controls and physics remain demanding for even the more avid racing fans so don’t let the outward appearance fool you: This is a really great game and for the asking price of 800 MS Points it’s a real bargain. Join the Army? See the world? I’d rather be Motocrossing!

(++ by ‘they’ I of course mean ‘no-one’)

The Good: Timeless racing game experience; Tactics of when and what stunts to apply; Great value

The Bad: Avatar FameStar