Also On: Xbox 360, PS Vita, PC
Publisher: Black Bean
I hate to harp on one game's failings in a review for another, but here's how I know that Fuel Overdose was terrible: it makes MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship look like one of the best racing games ever by comparison, when the objective reality is that MUD isn't anywhere close to being that good.
Not to say that it's a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, MUD is a solidly above-average racer whose positives make it easy to recommend. I just wouldn't say that it's going to be gracing many GOTY lists for anyone other than people who really love motocross.
But enough about what MUD isn't. Let's focus on what it is, since it's got quite a few things going in its favour. The graphics, for example, are fantastic, and make the game far more colourful and bright than you'd expect from a game where you're racing around in the dirt. This vibrance, in turn, means that the tracks each have their own unique personalities — again, no small feat, considering that the racing surfaces themselves don't differ all that much.
Most importantly, though, the motorbikes handle extremely well. MUD's tracks are filled with sharp corners and jumps that require pretty precise timing, and the controls never once let me down. Maybe it's just easier for developers to make motorbikes that aren't too drifty or prone to flipping out (as compared to, say, racecars), but I was consistently impressed by the fact that my drivers (cyclists?) always did exactly what I wanted them to do.
As I said, though, MUD is far from perfect — though I should acknowledge right away that some of the game's flaws are only really flaws if you share my ideological outlook. Case in point: I'm kind of appalled by the amount of advertising splashed throughout the game. I understand that that's the nature of modern sports, and that any true-to-life sports game almost has to have ads in it by necessity, but when the very first screen in the game has a Monster Energy Drink ad prominently placed, that seems like it crosses some kind of line.
Another ideological problem I have with the game? The fact it's so overwhelmingly male. I mean, I get that males are probably an overwhelming majority when it comes to both motocross participants and MUD's target demographic, but, like the advertising, it seems a little excessive. All four of the characters available in career mode are male, and all the music is by male artists. A quick Google search reveals that female motocross racers do exist (heck, the FIM half of titular MUD-FIM apparently even has a female division), so it seems kind of needlessly exclusionary that it's not even an option to race as a woman.
There are also a few issues with the game that have nothing to do with politics. First and foremost, every so often the game seems to hiccup. It doesn't happen so much that it could be considered a game-breaker, but it still happens often enough in both online and offline modes that it seems fair to label it an annoyance. My one other minor annoyance: it's really easy to lose sight of your racer when you're in a crowd. All it takes is one or two other racers crowding near you, and suddenly you're racing on blind faith for a few moments.
Neither of these things, though, is enough to take away from my overall enjoyment of MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship. As I implied way back at the beginning of this review, quiet, solid competence is a severely underrated commodity, and MUD-FIM gives you that, and then some. Once you get used to the graphics, it's probably not going to dazzle you much, but at the same time, it's not going to let you down. Motocross action is what the game promises, and motocross action is precisely what it delivers.