Mad Riders is a new downloadable racing game from Techland, the makers of Dead Island and Nail’D, reminiscent of old arcade games. With over 45 levels and online multiplayer this game is full of content considering its $10 price tag.
Mad Riders, as the name implies, is an off road ATV racing game. It's not overly complicated. The handling model looks to be inspired by old arcade games like Hydro and Artic Thunder. As you race around the track, you earn boost for hitting powers and performing stunts. The concept may be simple, but it has its merits and can be quite entertaining. When Mad Riders is at its best, you are hurtling through tracks and pulling off neat tricks. Occasionally, the handling model becomes too loose for its own good. The respawn system is also strange, occasionally not activating when it feels as though you are far off the track and other times it will activate as soon as you bump into an obstacle.
As you win races, you gain experience and gain access to new event types, such as trick attack and time trials, as well as new bikes, skins, and tricks. The game has more than 45 different maps, but there are too few environments too choose from and you will notice the same sections over and over again. It almost seems like they were made with a block editor similar to Trackmania’s, only with bigger blocks.
The game is also ridiculously easy. You seem to be gaining powerful bikes at a much faster rate than the AI. Even on the last set of tracks, I was easily earning 1st place finishes. There is a hard mode but this makes little change to the overall challenge. Once you finish the fairly lengthy tournament mode, you can move on to the multiplayer. Unfortunately, there is no split screen, which would have been a fantastic way to play this racing game. The player count online seems low. I struggled to find a game and never had one that was full. Human opponents are much more challenging than the bots, which does make the game more fun, but playing through similar looking jungles over and over takes its toll.
For a $10 downloadable, Mad Riders actually looks pretty good. The lighting and textures are solid, but the sense of speed is incredible and covers up any weak parts in the presentation. You will race through ruined temples, massive dams, sandy beaches, destroyed airplanes, and more. It isn’t quite as crazy as I would have liked, but it’s still more interesting than the standard mountains and dirt tracks, though there are some of these standard locations, that inhabit these sorts of extreme racing games. Though the environments look solid and seem really interesting at first, they are repeated ad nauseaum. As I mentioned before, it feels like the designers had a limited number of track pieces to work with and the lack of diversity actively detracted from my experience with the game.
Racing around at top speed past crazy scenery can be a ton of fun. I have a lot of nostalgia for old arcade style racers, but the ease of Mad Riders makes it hard for me to get excited about it. Pulling off crazy stunts can be fun also, but the occasional frustrations from controls that aren't quite precise enough can ruin an awesome string of tricks. If there was local multiplayer, it would be easy to grab a few friends and play for an hour or so, but instead there is only online and LAN support, severely limiting your options.
Mad Riders is not a bad game. It has some truly fun moments that remind me of the best arcade racers. The unfortunate part is that there are a lot of games that are simply better than Mad Riders. The game is cheap enough, at $10, that those who are interested in off road racing should consider checking it out. All others should probably look elsewhere for their racing needs.