20/02/2017

☆Review: Miniclip's First Ever Console Release Hits With MX Nitro ☆ #GameDev

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MX Nitro - PS4

Miniclip, a company most well-known for browser-based Flash games and, more recently, mobile games have decided to take on the console gaming market with their first release to the platform, MX Nitro.

So how has it turned out?

Well, I got my hands on it for the PS4 to review so here we go..
The game opens with a silent splash screen, one half red and the other blue with the MX Nitro logo in the middle with a jagged white line running the width of the screen. I’d be lying if I said this screen didn’t also make me think of a certain fizzy drink when I looked past the bright orange of the logo text. Upon pressing X I was taken into a tutorial of how to handle the game. The control style is pretty simplistic, requiring you to only really use the triggers, face buttons and left stick. Your first tutorial shows you how to get your bike moving, a couple of simple tricks and how to use the titular Nitro. You also get introduced to the game’s customisation options during the tutorial stages. I did notice a couple of names in here for helmet and armour variants that sounded a little familiar (N8 and Spartan) but, at the time of writing, I haven’t unlocked these yet to confirm my suspicions on this nod to other franchises.



At the end of the tutorial section you’ll meet your first boss racer. This is where you start to see the difficulty curve in the game kick in. This first boss encounter took me a few attempts to get past as I just couldn’t quite seem to keep ahead of him without coming off my bike at some point when trying to pull of the stunts  needed to build up Nitro. Eventually I managed to beat him and got to move on to the next section of the game which moves you to a new location and adds in a few more complex elements to the stunt trick system.

By this point I’d started to notice the music in the game wasn’t incredibly varied. It’s pretty much all guitars as you’d expect for this sort of themed game and there only seem to be about 5 or 6 music tracks that I’ve come across so far. I also noticed that there was a bit of variance in the subtitles from what was actually being said by your narrator/coach but there I am just nit-picking. The majority of sound in the game is made up of the music that I’ve already mentioned and the sound of your bike engines roaring. You also get some elements of speech in there from your narrator/coach and the boss riders you encounter. The bikes sound good and have a variance in the sound of their engine depending on which one you are riding at the time. The voice-overs are good but the accents on the boss racers can seem a little cartoony at times.


Visually I really enjoy the game. The environments look good and have a little bit of action in the background so that it actually feels like you could be a in a real place. There are even people stood watching your races at barriers in the background too. The courses themselves are well-designed and you can tell that a lot of time was put into the art of the game. The riders and bikes are solidly designed with plenty of customisation options to unlock for both. Admittedly, they just come down to picking a style and colour pallette but those designs are well made so it doesn’t feel like it cheapens the experience of deciding how your rider and bike will look. A nice touch in races is that if you take a spill off your bike and roll through snow or mud then your rider will have it on his outfit for that race and end screen when you finish that run.


The loading screens are very simplistic with a plain black backdrop, a grey stunt biker image on the middle of the screen and a text hint that changes every time. These text hints can sometimes be quite frustrating but also offer helpful tips too. One that I’ll repeat is here “don’t rage quit”. The reason I say that is because this game gets hard. You will lose a lot and get frustrated but when you finally beat that race you will feel so good about doing it. I actually referred to it as “the Dark Souls of MX” to a friend when I was discussing it with him. Most of the events I’ve played have lasted about 30-40 seconds each, from the starting line to the finish and, if I tell you that in an hour of play time, I only managed to beat 3 events you can tell how much I struggled and had to restart some. On the PS4 pressing the touchpad is the quick restart button and I honestly think I’ve used the touchpad more in 7 hours of this game than in the entire time that I’ve owned the console!

I’m writing this review now, defeated and with a deadline looming. As frustrating and rage-inducing as I’ve found playing this game, I’ve still really enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone thinking of giving it a try. I hit my wall on it with a boss race that was a point scoring match. You’re in a small arena in front of a big crowd and have to outperform your opponent with stunts to earn a higher score. After the race before being an elimination race (lowest scorer eliminated after each set time period) I didn’t think that I could get much further through the game in time to write this review.

The online component of the game is not a live head-to-head race with other players, more a case of taking on the ghosts of other players for the best scores/times on that particular track. I’m glad of this in a way because it means that you can still use the quick restart button to begin the race again if you make an error. At the time of writing I had got into the top 100 players on the scoreboard for the first online course and was back in the 200s in a matter of minutes.



Summary
"Overall this is a well-made game and Miniclip should be proud of what they have made here. You can feel their history of online Flash and mobile games in this one and it makes MX Nitro a tight little package. 

I did notice that there was no stats screen in the game so you can’t see how many times you’ve crashed or how far your rider has flown without his bike and I feel they missed a trick there. 

In closing, looks good, sounds good, plays well but gets frustratingly hard quite quickly. Well worth the time and energy for those after a stunt riding challenge."

RATING: MELTING
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)


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Eddie
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