MUD is a part simulation, part arcade racing game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. MUD is the official game of the 2011 season of the FIM World Motocross Championship with all of the official drivers, teams, bikes, tracks and competitions.
The Official Mode consists of quick race, championship and Monster Energy FIM MXoN events. The quick race feature can be raced with MX1 or MX2 bikes across any of the locations in the game, while the championship can be customised with MX1 or MX2 bikes and anywhere from three to twelve tracks and the Monster Energy FIM MXoN is a championship featuring twelve consecutive races to determine the winner of the MX1, MX2 or Open championship.
The MUD World Tour game mode features fifteen cards worth of unlockable events with each card consisting of three or four events totalling to dozens of events spread across multiple game types. The game types have a great amount of variation to them and consist of races; elimination cups; checkpoint races; head to head races; and trick battles. The cards are unlocked by purchasing them with in-game currency you earn from such factors as your finishing position, team target and talent bonus from every event that you participate in, alongside earning in-game currency in the quick race game mode for the same factors as the MUD World Tour events and earning in-game currency in the Monster Energy trick battle game mode for your finishing position, team crew target, duration bonus and difficulty bonus. It is important to earn as much in-game currency as you can as earlier cards include all of the events already unlocked as standard, while you will find that the further you progress into the MUD World Tour; the harder you will have to work to purchase new cards and events as the events will no longer be unlocked as standard from around a third of the way into the MUD World Tour, resulting in you having to purchase the second event onwards for each card from then onwards.
The quick race game mode includes the ability to select one of your four heroes, ride MX1 and MX2 bikes across any of the twelve tracks as you race against up to seven AI opponents that are set to any of the five difficulty levels with the length of the race from the choice of two minutes and one lap, five minutes and one lap or seven minutes and two laps.
The Monster Energy trick battle game mode includes the ability to select one of your four heroes, ride MX1 and MX2 bikes across any of the six trick battle tracks as you attempt to perform better freestyle tricks than the AI opponents that are set to any of the five difficulty levels with the length of the trick battle between one to three rounds. The Monster Energy trick battles consist of a three minute time limit in which you have to perform various freestyle tricks around courses designed with freestyle tricks in mind as it is covered with ramps. The tricks include back flips and front flips, amongst many more with each landed trick being rewarded with points, such as 2,000 points for the back flip and 2,800 points for the front flip, alongside bonuses for consistency, such as 500 points for a good streak of a three consecutively landed tricks, 1,000 points for being on a roll for landing four consecutive tricks and 2,000 points for an unstoppable streak of landing five consecutive tricks with further bonuses of 2,000 points for every consecutively landed trick thereafter.
MUD features all of the official licenses for the 2011 season, which comprises of twelve tracks situated in various locations around the world including: Glen Helen, USA; Valkenswaard, Netherlands; Indaiatuba, Brazil; Sevlievo, Bulgaria; Saint Jean D’Angely, France; Teuthschental, Germany; Matterley Basin, Great Britain; Fermo, Italy; Lommel, Belgium; Agueda, Portugal; La Baneza, Spain; and Uddevalla, Sweden. There are 84 professional riders; 32 teams such as Aprilia, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, TM and Yamaha; and their specifications of MX1 and MX2 bikes. However, the official licenses do not end with the MUD World Tour; as they continue with MXoN. MXoN is short for Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations and features all of the licenses from the 2011 Motocross of Nations season with all of the official suits and liveries from the 2011 season to create the most authentic experience possible with 16 national teams, 48 riders and bikes.
The handling will initially feel a little twitchy, but you will become accustomed to it rather quickly as you learn such techniques as scrubbing, which is an essential technique to perfectly execute your landing by positioning your bike appropriately, while in mid-air during a jump. However, approach each scrub carefully as a failed scrub will most certainly result in a crash and a loss of time and track position. There are a few gameplay mechanics that may influence the speed and handling of the bikes, such as performing burning starts straight out of the gate by holding the brake and only accelerating as soon as the gates drop to earn a boost to your acceleration off the start line; performing a holeshot by being the first rider to reach the “Love My Time” arch; and using energy drinks to provide temporary speed boosts.
The bike and rider upgrades are essential to your progression in the MUD World Tour as they genuinely make a difference to the handling and acceleration of your bike and are purchased with the same in-game currency that is used to purchase entry into new events and cards on the MUD World Tour. There are four heroes in the MUD World Tour called: Lars Keller, Koji Hayasa, Zack Brooks and Ivan Prelli, which all start off with their own skill sets in regards to favouring a particular type of event over enough due to their strengths and weaknesses. The skills are split into four separate categories including: endurance, instinct, agility and strength with each skill set having ratios of one to ten and starting at various figures depending upon the initial strengths and weaknesses of each hero. The endurance represents the length of the boost effect provided by the energy drinks with each upgrade increasing the length of the temporary boost to acceleration; instinct points provide more of a boost when performing a scrub; agility allows a rider to turn their bike faster; and strength presents the rider with more of a chance to keep their bike on the ground even when they are on the bumpiest terrain of tracks. There are equipment upgrades too that improve your team, helmet, energy drink and trick crew and are purchased with in-game currency. The team upgrades allow you to purchase your position in a new team from a selection of thirty-seven teams with each team having their own perks consisting of your target position and reward bonus for successful performances; the selection of twenty helmets are purely for decorative purposes only and do not provide any additional benefits; energy drinks provide a temporary speed boost with nine types of energy drinks resulting in the availability of between one and three energy drinks and the percentage representing the duration of the drink; and the trick crew allows you to make your selection of a particular trick crew from fifteen separate trick crews with each trick crew having their own perks consisting of your target position and reward bonus for successful performances.
The Trick Shop is presented in the same way as the bike and rider upgrades for the four heroes in the MUD World Tour, but relates to the tricks that you can perform in the Monster Energy trick battles. There are a total of twenty-nine tricks with five star difficulty ratings for their executions; the combo required to perform the trick; and the amount of points that are earned for performing the track and while some of them can be unlocked, most of them have to be purchased with in-game currency.
There are unfortunately only two camera angles with one placed directly behind the rider and the other positioned further back with no option to re-position the camera angle to move the viewpoint closer or further away. I was hopeful for more than two camera angles as it is important to cater to different preferred perspectives and as I usually choose the first-person camera angle in racing games and there are a lot of gamers who do so, so I thought it was a rather odd omission to not have a first-person perspective. I also believe that the first-person camera should have been mounted to the front of the bike with an additional first-person perspective from the eyes of the rider with a reduced field of vision created by the crash helmet and the sound effects of the rider’s breathing that would become more intense towards the end of the event based upon the endurance of the rider or reflecting upon crashes and the difficulty of the event to create the most immersive first-person perspective.
There are no video tutorials, although there is a how to play guide. The how to play guide introduces the game, so you know what to expect from MUD, while the race start guide covers the techniques required to perfect burning starts and achieving the holeshot; another very important guide teaches you how to perform a perfectly executed scrub and how to avoid scrub errors that may lead to crashes; and providing advice on the purpose of energy drinks.
The controls are well mapped with a combination of a face button and touch screen control scheme. The combination of the face buttons and touch screen control scheme consists of pressing R to accelerate; pressing L to brake; holding L and pressing R at the appropriate moment to perform a burning start that provides a boost off the start line; pressing X to scrub when in mid-air during a jump, which provides a speed boost when perfectly executed; pressing square to use an energy drink to provide a speed boost; pressing select to change the camera angle; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer the bike or adjust the rider’s weight distribution when in mid-air during a jump; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to look around you to see where the nearest opponent is; and pressing start to display the pause menu, while the touch screen provides an alternative to pressing square for the use of energy drinks by tapping on the energy drink icon on the bottom right of the touch screen and holding your finger on the touch screen to respawn your rider and bike.
Graphically, MUD is pretty good with deformable track surfaces that include mud being flicked up from the track surface as the bikes drive over it and sprays onto the camera with excellent crash dynamics that see your rider seriously falling off his anytime you have a stray jump or fail to perform a good scrub when in mid-air. The draw distance and graphics are mostly pretty good with a solid frame rate even when there are eight bikes closely bunched together, although the very occasional background detail will pop up as you get closer to it and the trees sometimes look a little flat, but other than that MUD performs well from both a graphical and performance standpoint.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface that is navigated by the face buttons with support for the left analogue stick and directional pad across various menus such as the main menu, Official Mode menu, MUD World Tour menu, online multiplayer menu, options menu and various gameplay menus, although there is no support for navigation via the right analogue stick, touch screen and rear touch pad. The background of the main menu screen features a rider on a bike in mid-air as he is performing a trick with the MUD logo in the top left corner with Monster Energy sponsor boards in the background and stylised background effects with trees, mud and logos presented as though they were drawn on ancient scrolls. The loading screens are just as good in their presentation as the menus as they contain hints and tips for you to read about gameplay mechanics and the game in general with pictures of courses and bikes that you can cycle through by pressing L or R to keep you occupied during any loading times.
The audio consists of sound effects and music with the sound effects playing an essential part of the experience as you will hear the revving of the bike engines and crashes, although the ambient sound effects are lacking as they are too low in the audio mix with only the occasional applause from the crowd at the start of the race and to a well executed scrub and the possibility of an announcer overheard on a rare basis, while the music covers such genres as rock and metal.
The trophy list includes forty-eight trophies with thirty-two bronze trophies, thirteen silver trophies, two gold trophies and one platinum trophy. There are quite a few easy trophies that will guarantee you a good haul of trophies pretty quickly, such as the Getting to know your new Heroes bronze trophy for buying the second level in the MUD World Tour; The Gladiator bronze trophy for visiting one of the arenas available in the MUD World Tour; the You like it different bronze trophy for customising a championship in Official Mode; the Homeboy silver trophy for completing a Monster Energy FIM MXoN race in Official Mode; the Take a course of MUD bronze trophy for falling a total of ten times in any game mode; the Ready to get MUD bronze trophy for entering the main page of the MUD World Tour for the first time; and The last starting Trophy bronze trophy for entering the main menu; amongst other easy trophies. There are eight online multiplayer trophies, which should take most likely just over 100 online multiplayer races to complete as the Multiplayer Maniac silver trophy requires you to complete 100 online multiplayer races, while the someone is getting better silver trophy requires you to reach level 50 and as you may not necessarily reach level 50 before or as you reach 100 completed online multiplayer races, then you may have to race on for another few more races beyond 100 online multiplayer races until you have reached level 50. You will most likely achieve the rest of the online multiplayer trophies as you progress towards achieving level 50 and 100 completed online multiplayer races as you will more than likely win a quick race, earn 450 experience points in a quick race and win a Monster Energy FIM MXoN event within the 100 or so attempts that you will have at achieving them.
However, there are also some skill based trophies, such as the Enough silver trophy for winning all of the events on all of the levels of the MUD World Tour; the What A Record bronze trophy for passing through 45 checkpoints in a checkpoint race; the Conquest of the throne silver trophy for winning an MX1 Official Championship in Official Mode; the Do NOT like the ground trophy for finishing in one of the first three positions without falling off your bike when playing in the Official Mode; and the Firestarter bronze trophy for performing 25 burning starts in any game mode by perfectly timing your start. Setting the difficulty level of your AI opponents to the rookie difficulty level will certainly provide you with more of an opportunity to win races and freestyle events much easier than in comparison to the harder difficulty levels, which will be to your advantage in regards to earning the platinum trophy in a shorter period of time. I would estimate depending upon skill, a friend or anyone to play against online to attempt the online multiplayer trophies and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between twenty to twenty-five hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are five difficulty levels including: rookie, easy, normal, hard and extreme. The major difference between the easier and harder difficulty levels is simply that the harder difficulty levels will produce riders with more difficult AI that are harder to pass, less likely to crash and are harder to catch during all disciplines of races after they have opened up a lead ahead of you. Whereas the easier AI suffer from random bouts of consecutive mistakes that will see you catch them fairly quickly; the harder difficulties effectively eliminate the rubber banding effect that many racing games suffer from. The harder AI also applies to the freestyle events as they are less likely to make mistakes and are therefore significantly more likely to heavily score points from consecutively landing their tricks. My advice would certainly be to keep the game’s difficulty level to a lower difficulty level, such as rookie or easy until you have became a better rider in regards to having more control of the bike and until you have eased your way into the game having experienced multiple race disciplines and freestyle events.
There are online multiplayer features and online leaderboards. The online multiplayer includes a quick match game mode that allows you to quickly enter a lobby and if there are no populated lobbies available at that time, you will be entered into your own customisable lobby. The quick match includes the ability to ride MX1 and MX2 bikes across any of the twelve tracks and multiple race disciplines against up to five opponents including human and potentially AI opponents of any difficulty level.
The custom match game mode provides a quick and efficient way of searching for the online gaming environment that best matches your preferred settings including: the selection of the track from any of the twelve tracks available; the category of the event with a full range of bikes from MX1 and MX2; the inclusion of AI to pad out the field in the scenario that you want five opponents, but do not have five human opponents to race against and the ability to select the difficulty level of the AI opponents between rookie, easy, normal, hard or extreme; the maximum number of players ranging anywhere from two to six players; the length of the race from the choice of two minutes and one lap, five minutes and one lap or seven minutes and two laps; and the ability to select for collisions to be on or off. If you have very limited time and none of those options matter to you, then you can just leave the options on their default settings, which are set to not important and search with a simple press of the X button.
The create match game mode provides the ability for you to create your own customised lobby with a choice of the following: the quick race or Monster Energy FIM MXoN game mode; the selection of the track from any of the twelve tracks available or a random track; the category of the event with a full range of bikes from MX1 and MX2; the inclusion of AI to pad out the field in the scenario that you want five opponents, but do not have five human opponents to race against and the ability to set the difficulty level of the AI opponents between rookie, easy, normal, hard or extreme; the maximum number of players ranging anywhere from two to six players; the length of the race from the choice of two minutes and one lap, five minutes and one lap or seven minutes and two laps; and the ability to turn collisions on or off.
The XP system allows you to earn points towards levelling up in online multiplayer, such as awarding XP points for finishing the race as high up the field of riders as possible with a higher finishing position resulting in a better position bonus; the quality of your scrubbing from not scrubbing at all to performing good scrubs and excellent scrubs; being the first rider to reach the “Love My Time” arch to earn the holeshot; performing a burning start off the start line; being the lap leader; and not falling off your bike throughout the entire race.
The online stats consist of your current level; the amount of races you have participated in; the amount of races you have won; the amount of well or perfectly executed scrubs; the amount of holeshots you have achieved; the amount of laps you have completed; and the amount of times you have fallen from your bike. The online stats are a positive design choice as anyone within the lobby can press triangle on your PSN ID and view your statistics for your online multiplayer races, which allows everyone to know the kind of skill level they are going up against before the online multiplayer race commences.
The multiplayer component lacks a hotseat multiplayer feature, which would have been ideal for the Vita for players to be able to compete with each other on the same Vita to see who could set the fastest lap time around a track, who could pass through the most checkpoints in a checkpoint race, who could set the highest score in a race including additional points for successful scrubbing and position bonuses and who could set the highest score in a trick freestyle event and is hopefully a feature that will be implemented in a future sequel as it would certainly add even more entertainment to what is already a rather fun online multiplayer mode.
The only problem with the online multiplayer depends upon how much of an accurate rider you are; as I feel that the bike resets far too much in online multiplayer due to venturing out of bounds. The issue here though is that you are looking at the equivalent scale of about the width of a bike were the front tyre is actually in bounds and the rear tyre is barely out of bounds, so I found that this rule was breaking up the fun of racing online far too much, especially considering that it rarely happens in single player.
The online leaderboards focuses on world results, tracks records and arenas records. The world results leaderboards cover the online rankings and Monster Energy Trick Battle rankings, while you can compare your positioning on the leaderboards with players that occupy the top positions, your friends from your friends list, globally with players from around the world and to immediately find and display your position within any given leaderboard with each leaderboard containing the overall amount of players within that particular leaderboard; each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); level; score and races. Meanwhile, the track records rankings cover all of the twelve tracks across the MX1 and MX2 bike categories with each leaderboard containing the overall amount of players within that particular leaderboard; each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and the best time set by each player. The arena records rankings cover all of the trick freestyle courses with each leaderboard containing the overall amount of players within that particular leaderboard; each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and the highest score set by each player.
There are a few improvements that I would like to see from MUD’s sequel MXGP or any further future sequels as MUD lacks any form of weather conditions and a day-night cycle, which could have provided further replayability to be able to play the same tracks with various weather conditions to create unpredictability regarding the grip from the track surface and at different times of day to provide the tracks with a different look to them, which would also be provided by unlocking reversed tracks were clockwise would become anti-clockwise and mirrored tracks were a left turn would become a right turn and vice versa. It would be great to see a free camera mode from the pause menu that would allow you to take pictures of the race and save them as your Vita’s wallpaper background, along with the ability to share them via Facebook and Twitter, while a replay feature is certainly missed and there definitely needs to be more camera angles and a better sense of ambience in the audio. My most requested improvement would most likely be for the inclusion of cross-save and cross-play functionality with the PS3 version of the game, although hopefully this level of compatibility between the two versions of the game and at least some of my other suggestions will be implemented in MXGP or future sequels.
The replayability of MUD is quite significant due to the amount of content on offer across all of the game modes and categories. The MUD World Tour, MXoN Championship and freestyle trick battles in single player, alongside the online multiplayer and online leaderboards are all sources of vast replayability that will be entertaining you and providing fun even long after the twenty hours or so it will take you to have experienced everything the game has to offer, while the implementation of unlockable content via in-game currency is another form of replayability and reward for achieving great performances in multiple race and freestyle disciplines.
Overall, MUD: FIM World Motocross Championship is a great first entry of what I am sure will be an exceptional franchise of Motocross games with an immense amount of potential for where the franchise could progress to. While there are a number of features that could have been included that were not; it is a testament to the game that the content that is there in the MUD World Tour, Motocross of Nations, freestyle trick battles and official licenses is enough to keep you coming back for more and always feels fresh and full of vibrancy with all of those potential features left over for the sequel. With a debut in the Motocross franchise that is this well crafted; I am certainly looking forward to seeing how much of a step up MXGP can provide.
At A Glance
- Title: MUD: FIM World Motocross Championship
- Publisher: Milestone
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PS Vita Card/PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: Yes (2-6 Players/Online Leaderboards)
- Memory Card Space Needed: 2Mb (PS Vita Card) / 576Mb (PSN Download)