Dirtbike racing games have been around since Excitebike as long as I can remember. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Motocross Madnesswas released, which took dirt bike racing to a whole new level and then evolved into the MX Unleashed. ATV Offroad Fury was launched at about the same time the players were driving their ATVs. It wasn’t long before the games merged into a single game that would become the MX vs ATVfranchise. The legacy of these games will last for decades. Now, the latest iteration of Rainbow Studio called MX vs ATV All Outlands on the Nintendo Switch. How has the game evolved in 20 years and continues to lead the off-road racing genre?

MX vs ATV All Out is a semi-arcade off-road racing game where players race, jump and perform stunts on motorcycles, ATVs and tools in the new UTVs (Utility Terrain Vehicles). As a teenager I spent countless hours playing MX Unleashed and ATV Offroad Fury. I loved breathing in the huge air, doing aerobatics and hoping for a landing. These games fit perfectly into the category of extreme sports that flooded the industry at the time. I admit it’s been a while since I learned any of the new games. So when All Out was announced, I thought it was a good time to see how the franchise had developed after all these years. When I plunged into the game, I was immediately struck with nostalgia, but unfortunately not in a warm, fuzzy, and good way.

When you start the game, you begin a learning phase on an open access property called The Ranch. It serves as a hub for event submissions, as well as other fun and random things to do. In manual mode, I immediately noticed a terrible frame; it looks like I’m in simple numbers, making the game unplayable. Nonetheless, I walked around doing the tutorials on riding, jumps, tricks, etc. Then I was a little confused about accessing gameplay from the ranch, and instead used the pause menu to navigate to the championship. Thankfully, the frame rate improved by an order of magnitude over the course of the race, but it’s still far from locked at 30 frames per second.

I competed in some championships with my MX bike and the standard ATV that was at my disposal. To my surprise, the All Out does not look like a product developed over decades. The drivers’ animations are as sharp as I remember, and the physics are also very spongy, which can certainly be considered a positive to allow for greater use of arcade games. The rider’s clothing floats with the speed, which is a nice touch, but I personally expected a more cautious ride.

The environment, both on the ranch and on the track, is lifeless and as empty as the first game I remember. The textures are medium sized at best, but worse, many rocks have severely distorted and stretched textures often seen in the days when the procedural terrain was poorly laid out. Also, the lighting seems very flat and shadows are clearly absent, giving me the impression that the car is floating a bit above the ground. I’m willing to forgive a little given the platform specs, but after watching some videos on other consoles, they don’t look much better. Visually, the game seems to be stuck in the past for 15 years.

Outside of training, the ranch is a rather useless and missed opportunity to do something cool. There are 25 cogs scattered around the area that you can collect if you make the right jump, but there’s no indication of why you’re trying to collect them or what they might unlock. The past, there’s nothing to do here. This would have been a great opportunity to do some sightseeing, but instead it’s just a normal site with some nice hills and jumps and a built MX park, but that doesn’t justify spending much time here anyway.

Also new in the All Out version is the inclusion of UTVs like the Polaris RZR. These side-by-side utility vehicles are highly suspended and fun to drive in the real world. However, you will experience understeer issues in the game, as well as unnecessary physics problems if your UTV flips over in any way. Besides, the days of monster trucks, buggies, and dirt tracks that existed in these games and offered something new to ride and play are long gone.

Which brings me to the next absolutely outrageous thing I found in MX vs ATV All Out. At the beginning of the game you get two MX, two ATVs and two UTVs, which are called Rainbow or THQ in the story. This is the big bang…. Every vehicle in the real world is linked to a CSD transaction. Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Yamaha, all the major manufacturers that make SUVs in these categories have a $3 per vehicle price. If you’re only buying vehicles, you’ll have to spend more than $92. That’s not all, you’ll also find that there are several championships attached to CSD transactions, as well as a total of $17 extra.  While I expect some of the premium content to be tied to game purchases, it’s like a slap in the face when the entire inventory of brand name vehicles that are usually the defining factor for fans of these games is tied to DLC after the base game price of $40. It looks like a bait and switch, and it’s not really user friendly.

However, for the vehicles you wish to purchase, you can spend your profits in game currency on upgrades and some cosmetic changes. As in the previous games, you can certainly customize your route. Fortunately, no CSD is required to customize the runner, and you can use your winnings to buy all the gear from well-known brands like O’Neal, Fox, Alpinestars and more to make your runner look pretty impressive on the slopes.

Once you have your favorite driver and car, All Out offers several game modes, including Career Mode, Arcade Mode (which acts as a local head-to-head race), Time Trial, Single Event (for quick play), Local Multiplayer and Online Multiplayer (where I couldn’t find another player to leave me alone in any way).

Unfortunately, the Switch version suffers from performance issues every time. Aside from the terrible frame rate on the Ranch, the user interface is slow to respond to input, making interacting with the menu awkward almost every time. There are serious sound problems that can easily occur as well, such as when one of these examples was near the ranch pond, the surrounding birds and the sound effects of the water suddenly jumped out of my little switches at about 200% volume. Eventually, my game crashed several times and at different times, causing me to lose some of the progress at one point.

I wanted to like MX vs ATV All Out. Seriously, it was one of my favorite shows when I was a teenager, and I remember enjoying it for countless hours. Unfortunately, there are too many omissions, so my nostalgia is better remembered. To be fair, I could probably forgive some of the performance issues and poor graphics sometimes found on Nintendo platforms, but almost all of my favorite content locked behind a separate DPC has made me hate the game as a whole.

MX vs ATV Full Review
  • Charts – 4/10
  • Sound – 4.5/10
  • Gameplay – 4.5/10
  • Late complaint – 4/10

4/10

Final thoughts : AFDB

MX vs ATV All Out is a continuation of the decades-old franchise. Unfortunately, it looks bad on the Nintendo Switch, looks outdated, and has serious performance issues that affect many areas of the game, both visually and audibly. Worse, all amateur content is linked to paid CSDs. If you want to get into this game, you will have to pay almost $150 in total. However, my suggestion is to follow the name of the game and get as far away from it as possible.

Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.

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