Mad Riders is an arcade ATV racing game from developers Techland and publishers Ubisoft. The game involves high speed arcade racing fuelled by the use of stunts to gain boost. During the game you will be using ATVs on the most part, but you will have a selection of unlockable Buggies to ride in for a different experience.
The game has a variety of modes which sometimes use their own specific tracks; the single player and multiplayer experiences are separated but you will be prompted continuously during the singleplayer to join a multiplayer game.
The single player revolves around a tournament that is split into eight events; each of which contains five races. Each race has a three star rating and you will earn stars depending on your position in the race from 1st to 3rd. To unlock the next event you need to gain 10 stars in the previous events races, hitting 10 stars will also unlock a special Off Road Elite challenge for that event. Completing Off Road Elite races, will net you new vehicles outside of the ones unlocked via the levelling system.
The major differences between the multiplayer and the singleplayer are: the separate but identical levelling systems, the respawn penalties and multiplayer begins with all stunts and game modes unlocked. During singleplayer, stunts and game modes become unlocked as you progress through events and you will not be able to perform any stunts you have yet to unlock. Multiplayer also has unlocks occur at a different rate to singleplayer, rewarding those who spend longer playing it.
There are six race modes: Race, Stunt, Race the Clock, Arena, Ghost Challenge and Perfection. Perfection is a mode like time trials where you can try for the best single lap time that you can; always starting at the beginning so that you can’t boost through the finishing line for a quicker time. In multiplayer multiple people can compete, with you being able to see them only as ghosts, letting you pass directly through them; the winner is the fastest lap after the time runs out.
Arena is a circular map which leads you from one checkpoint to another; the winner is the first person to get to all check points. Ghost Challenge pits you against the Ghost playthrough of a Pro, who the Pros are I don’t know but either way they are tough to beat. Stunt is possibly one of the more difficult modes, as it requires you to play on a track with many jumps but most are small, so timing your stunts is a major part to gaining points. Race the Clock is race where you alone have to get through checkpoints before the time runs out, it lasts for 3 laps, same as a normal race but the times leave very little chance to redeem yourself. It is easily the hardest mode and you are rated by how long you have left on the clock if you manage to complete the track in time.
The controls are generally good, with handling being quite easy to get used too; with the exception of the stunts. Boosting can leave you out of control if you use it too wildly but that is down to the play, stunts leave you quite open to an assortment of problems due to the control layout. Air based stunts are performed using “X” and normally the left analogue stick but you also need the left stick to control movement in the air. It leaves the stunt performing feeling cluttered as making jumps higher or lower is also controlled by the left stick. Trying to get maximum height on a jump will sometimes cause you to start a backflip when you are trying for other stunts. Due to the large amount of obstacles that litter the airspace on some tracks it becomes more than a little frustrating.
Respawns can occur quite frequently and some will even be a little unfair. The tracks are quite narrow at points, so sometimes a slight deviation will result in it resetting your position. It does catch some mishaps really quickly leaving you with little downtime but the sensitivity for some respawns is too high. In singleplayer it isn’t quite as much of an issue but the (generally) longer multiplayer respawn times can be quick to damage your chances of winning. Also there are a few respawns which will save you time on the track, but they are few and far between.
Across the tracks there are red boost pins to collect; they count as stunts so they can be parts of larger combos, mostly in the air though. There are also blue pins to collect (up to three at one) which can be used when a prompt appears for either a recharge or a shortcut. Recharges are normally small areas where boost pins will appear but sometimes will raise a jump platform to get to them. Shortcuts are self-explanatory but some aren’t quite as good as others and only shave a small amount of time. They do however contain a line of 3-4 boost pins to collect as well so shortcuts will at least give you boost to get ahead. It is worth noting that both shortcuts and recharges can be used by other players as well for however long that particular thing lasts, so anyone behind you will be able to reap the benefits too.
As an alternative to the ATVs there are also a few unlockable buggies. While buggies have better acceleration and a recharging boost; they are also much heavier and can’t perform aerial stunts. Because of the weight, you have a much lower jump height and handling isn’t quite so fluid. It makes some jumps very risky and it isn’t a vehicle that makes winning easy at all.
Presentation and Audio
Almost everything about the game screams Arcade Cabinet as the sound effects and sometimes overly bright colours can be found in many Arcade racers. Player and vehicle customisation is purely cosmetic but even though you can customise individual parts on your vehicle, you can’t carry it over to any other vehicles; which is a shame when you change to a stronger vehicle.
Fast, fluid and some great track design make for some adrenaline fuelled racing and when there are people online to compete against, the odds change greatly for some better gameplay. There is plenty of variation in tracks due to different starting positions and routes, the Arena mode is brilliant and is a great variation on normal races. Unfortunately the respawns can be awkward and the controls can be fiddly when you need to perform stunts with precision.
The game is really fun but the separation of singleplayer and online progression will leave some people far behind in the multiplayer, as it isn’t all that populated so progression can be slow. A couple of things need to be tweaked in order to make it less frustrating but it is generally a good game. The single player does offer a lot of challenges though, despite the slow start and AI doesn’t have rubber banding so you won’t feel cheated.
While I’m not a huge racing fan I have a massive soft spot for ATV racing games; maybe it’s the more arcade-like gameplay but the tracks tend to be much more interesting and full of jumps. While it doesn’t quite have the weight behind the movements that I like from racers, it still packs a punch with some of the courses and the speed that you hurl down some of the slopes and through the dips.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.