The good news for the uninitiated out there is that there is still a solid game underneath all the extras.
Display Artist: Left Field Productions, Inc.
Platforms: Xbox (also on PlayStation 2)
Number of players: 1-2 s (up to 8 with Xbox Live)
ESRB rating: Everyone
US release date: 2007-07
Sometimes I buy a DVD just because I just want to own the movie, and sometimes I really want all the extra stuff they throw on there. We all know that the true fan will not settle for the Platinum Edition of a film if an Ultra Collector's Edition Director's Cut is scheduled for release a couple months down the line. The flip side, of course, is that most of the extra content on a special release will be completely wasted on the layman who rents it just to watch the movie.
MTX: Mototrax is the Ultra Collector's Edition of motocross games, and I am that layman. Left Field Productions, the same folks who breathed new life into the long extinct Excitebike franchise, have packed this disc to the brim with extras. Left Field went out and got the likeness rights (or so I assume, based on the absence of lawsuits) to about a dozen pro riders. Although we'd never heard of him before, my roommate now has a standing rivalry with "Cowboy" Kenny Bartram (if you are as ignorant as I was, he's pretty much the freestyle champion of the universe). They weren't content to slap some names in with simple customized uniform skins, though -- there are actually promo videos you unlock for each rider, a "free ride" area modeled after Travis Pastrana's (apparently the Tony Hawk of motocross) private backyard track, and probably all sorts of other goodies I didn't even recognize.
Meanwhile, I had no idea what the difference between Supercross (an arena race) and Motocross (an outdoor race) was until I picked up this game. Needless to say, the joy some drooling fans no doubt experienced at seeing Pastrana interview inside his own house was completely lost on me. No, to me, this was really just a racing game with cars that are much easier to crash.
The good news for the uninitiated out there is that there is still a solid game underneath all the extras. Left Field wasn't content to rest on the star power by any means. MTX features four different modes in the single player "campaign": both Supercross and Motocross racing, free style (performing stunts for points), and a "free ride" mode where you can explore a few larger areas looking for assorted tasks to accomplish. Although the portion of my gaming appetite which likes open-ended non-linear games was drawn immediately to the free ride areas, there's a real absence of content there that couldn't keep me occupied for too long. The racing modes, on the other hand, provide plenty of challenge, and enough content to make that challenge interesting, to keep most players (even us ignorant types) engaged for quite a while.
The soundtrack is pretty much restricted (appropriately) to the hard-rock fare such as Slipknot and AFI that seems to go hand in hand with "extreme" sports. I was surprised the first time a track from The Misfits came on, though. Left Field at least went to the effort to include a chronological variety here, while still maintaining the proper atmosphere. And if you've got an aversion to particular bands (as I definitely do), you can always edit the track list yourself to prevent certain annoying anthems from repeating themselves.
While MTX is technically well-built and the gameplay is engaging, it's also a little uninspiring. There is a good racing game here, but not a great one. It's not that I have any major complaints (I do have a few minor ones), rather, there's just very little to make this game stand out. This is not a title I imagine myself looking back on fondly (or probably even remembering) ten years from now. In a market with racing games that fill all sorts of niches from the utter silliness of Mario Kart to photorealistic representations of actual cities, MTX just doesn't call out to my particular cravings. But then, I suppose, I'm not exactly their target buyer -- I still can't tell you exactly what it means to go "hard on the binders."