Mad Riders PSN review: cheap downloadable racer wins us over
Mad Riders PSN review
I hate things that assign themselves the moniker of ‘mad’. It’s generally that aunt who shows up at a family reunion shouting “I’m mad, me!” before flashing her oversized undergarments at the rest of the party as she clumsily sashays on to the dancefloor bellowing Whigfield’s Saturday Night. When actually it’s much more appropriately applied to that second cousin who lives alone and pushes a porcelain doll around in a pram saying, “Look, I’ve had a baby.”
But, personal bugbears aside, this downloadable quad racer from the makers of Dead Island actually is maaaad. Or, at the very least, it possesses such an overwhelming sense of break-everything speed that it’s liable to send you mad.
For the first few races this takes you on a one-way trip to Nauseaville, but once you adjust it steadily transforms into something seriously enjoyable as races become stern tests of your reflexes – particularly the first time you thrash round a new course.
There’s an impressive range of these – 45 in total – and each is essentially a muddy rollercoaster of sharp bends, insane dips and enormous “Look I can see my house… if I hadn’t got my eyes clamped shut with terror!” jumps.
On the surface, it’s reminiscent of 2010 game Nail’d, but far superior. Quads handle super responsively and are much more satisfying to drive, the course design is better, even if it does start to get repetitive after a while, and again it all plays out at a tear-inducing pace.
As with any ‘extreme’ [downs energy drink and flashes the metal horns] racing game there’s obviously a boost mechanic, which – as well as sending things into ‘I’m having a seizure’ overdrive – is nicely tweaked by the fact that, if you have the racing skills (not to mention courage) to use the whole bar in one go it keeps refilling itself. You can also collect blue icons scattered around the courses in order to temporarily open up very worthwhile shortcuts with a tap of triangle, or lay down a row of boost-filling icons for you to hoover up.
As with the stunts you can perform – using X and the left stick when you get enough air – these are organically introduced into the main mode, and as the difficulty ramps up through the perfectly paced learning curve you need to make use of all the tricks at your disposal more and more.
The gameplay is all contained within a super-simple but extremely friendly setup – nothing is over-complicated and, at the risk of sounding like an iPhone promo video, it just works. There are quick races and intuitive drop-in, three-mode multiplayer, but the core game is the Tournament mode. Here you find eight sets of five events, which range from simple races to arena sprints to stunt competitions.
Mad Riders’ only real problem is a lack of originality, as most of its makeup is borrowed from ATV games that have come before. But it’s tweaked and mixed these ingredients together so well that it deserves to be called the best of them – and at £7.99 there’s more than enough value on offer to appeal to anyone out there… as long as they don’t suffer from motion sickness, that is.