Mad Riders Review

By litepink,
Fast-paced ATV racing on over 45 tracks sounds like an attractive proposition at only 800 MSP. We grip the handlebars tight and take Mad Riders for a spin and find out if this racer is worth your time.

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Arcade stunt racing
Mad Riders is a purely arcade experience. Huge jumps will allow you to pull off and chain together stunts. Performing these stunts fills your boost meter, which is crucial to winning races. There are also boost and shortcut tokens to collect throughout the track. Something that I admire about Mad Riders, is the sense of reward with the boost meter and shortcuts. If you utilize these, you’ll not only move up in the pack, you could also develop a more sizeable lead.

Mad Riders Review

Another aspect I came to appreciate, is the ability to steer your ATV while in mid-air. It’s a subtle feature that I enjoyed; it gives you the luxury of landing on bonus targets on the ground or steering around obstacles in the air. Steering on the ground isn’t so precise, but that can be accredited to the game’s design. You’ll need to utilize the breaks and use your boost meter wisely for maximum benefit. On occasion you’ll slam into a wall or go flying off a jump outside of the racing area. The game will respawn you back into the race with a bit of penalty but nothing that will significantly deter your chances of reaching the podium.

Tournament Mode
The main focus of the single-player experience is Tournament Mode. There are a variety of different race types: traditional, checkpoint, stunt, ghost, and arena races. Do well in these races to earn stars and progress further. There’s a small learning curve to the racing at first, but the game does an excellent job of introducing the new race mechanics through the first few tracks, instead of throwing everything at you all at once. While there is some variety in the race types, it mostly boils down to racing fast, and performing stunts to increase your boost meter.

After getting the hang of things, I was winning races by several seconds, even double digits. The unlockable Off-Road Elite events didn’t provide much extra challenge either. You soon figure out that stunt combos are huge boost bar fillers, and you can lay the boost down to blaze by the AI. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, we want the AI to be competitive to provide some dramatic racing. On the other hand, I should be rewarded for mistake free driving, right? If I’m pulling off mad stunts and hitting all cylinders, I should win by plenty. I’m glad developer Techland took out the heavy rubberbanding feature found so often in arcade racing games.


Customized ride
The offline and online components both have their own separate leveling and experience points. Your incentive to leveling up comes in the form of unlockables (and a multiplayer achievement). There are new quads and new paint jobs to be had, as well as character models. Mad Riders features a fair amount of customization to make your setup feel unique to you. Some of the new rides offer a slight technical advantage in comparison to the original default vehicles, while others may fit your riding style better. There are vehicles suited for speed, acceleration, boost ability, control, stunt capabilities, and more. You can go the safe route too by picking a well-rounded ATV.

Don’t stop to take in the scenery
If I were to describe the graphics of Mad Riders in one word, it would be ‘ugly’. Everything from the environments to the racers have this choppy look to them. The tracks also lack variety. Although Ubisoft touts 45 tracks, many of these are actually altered versions of existing tracks. The tracks look so similar, it feels like there are only a handful of them. There are a few unique landmarks but most of the tracks feel an awful lot alike. The arena and stunt tracks are the exception, but otherwise too many of the tracks stick with the Aztec-like, jungle theme.

Downloadable content is in the works, as an option to download more tracks is advertised on the main menu. I’m hoping these new tracks offer something different over the original lineup of tracks available now.

Multiplayer Madness
The multiplayer in Mad Riders shines. You get all the race modes from single player, and one additional mode, Perfectionist. In this mode you get 8 minutes to record the best lap time among all the racers. If the current lap isn’t going well, you can restart with a press of a button rather than completing each lap. You're constantly trying to one-up your opponents and racing tight to improve your score. Another perk in this race mode is that it's great way to earn XP too. Placing well will earn you a fair amount of XP, but the pot of gold comes from pulling off multiple stunts in the match.


The other modes were a blast too when enjoyed with others. The online community was quite scarce during the review period of the game, but I was still able to get in some races with 2-5 players. If no one was playing online, I’d switch over to single player. A feature Mad Riders has that many other games would benefit from, is a HUD notification during single player that a multiplayer match is available. You can hit a button to pause and join a match in progress. If you can’t get connected for whatever reason, you return right to where you were in that single player race. The benefit of this feature will be greatly appreciated when the online community thins out a bit. The HUD message isn’t very intrusive at all, but if you want you can turn this feature off in the options menu.

I had a few minor issues connecting straight from single player to multiplayer, but otherwise regular matchmaking was a breeze and there were no lag in any of my races. There is support for up to twelve racers, and I’m confident that the netcode would hold up just fine. I look forward to trying out multiplayer with a full race card now that the game has been released.

Assuming Microsoft enforces the new gamerscore requirements, Mad Riders will be one of the last arcade titles to feature only 200 gamerscore. Most of the achievements are cumulative and easily earned by progressing through Tournament Mode. The other two are for multiplayer, but even during pre-release, I was able to knock them off and progress to Level 10 with just a bit of a time sink.

Overall, this is quite the easy achievement list. How easy? Check out the release day walkthrough for Mad Riders.

Final Thoughts
The graphics and repetitive tracks made it difficult to warm up to this racer at first. However, after learning the ropes and enjoying the spectacular multiplayer, some of the game’s faults can be forgiven. The core racing mechanic is solid and quite fun. More subtle features like the multiplayer notification help bolster the game’s credentials as well. The game will please fans of ATV racing, but it’s very accessible to others too. Top that off with a fair price point and you have yourself a decent racer. Maybe you’ll run across me racing online, I’ll be sure to wait for you at the finish line.

The reviewer, litepink, completed the single player Tournament Mode, divulged time in the multiplayer to get above Level 10, and earned the full 200 gamerscore for the title.