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Jonny Moseley Mad Trix (PS2) Review

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Let's cut right to the chase: Jonny Moseley Mad Trix is one of the worst action-sports games available for the PS2. 3DO--a company that has produced few quality titles since abandoning its game console in the mid-'90s--obviously attempted to make Mad Trix look and feel like SSX on skis, only it failed miserably. Every area of the game, from the poor audio/visual presentation to the shoddy gameplay, is disappointing. Whether you are a fan of freeskiing (a.k.a. "new-school skiing") or enjoy playing action-sports games, you will find very little, if anything, appealing or worthwhile about Mad Trix.

Presentation/Graphics : 50
While most developers are striving to push the PS2 to its graphical limits, 3DO seems content on doing the exact opposite, delivering PS2 games with generic and lackluster graphics. Mad Trix is no exception and simply looks like a 32-bit game hastily ported to the PS2. The sad truth, however, is the game was developed specifically around the PS2. Unfortunately, the game's sloppy environments, slow frame-rate, mediocre lighting and special effects, and numerous graphical glitches contradict this fact and show how truly little effort 3DO devoted to the graphics. That's not to say the graphics are a complete mess--the character models and motion-captured animations are serviceable, albeit unimpressive, and the menu screens are presentable.

Presentation/Audio : 10
Stock sound effects, lame voice samples, horrid announcing, and some of the worst music ever make Mad Trix's audio presentation utterly abysmal. The most shocking thing about the game's audio is that someone thought the second-rate music--consisting mostly of tracks from obscure rap and rock groups on the Palm Pictures label--was worthy of its own soundtrack, which is sold separately. Worse, the two biggest songs on the soundtrack--Saliva's "Click Click Boom" and Alley Life's "Out with the Old"--have been recycled from other action-sports games, namely, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x and MX 2002. Luckily, you can disable the repetitive music. But you are then left with sparse, low-key sound effects and a dry announcer, whose blatantly stuffy and overly annoying voice does not fit the theme of the game.

Interface/Options : 30
Mad Trix's menus are bare-bones, its options are few, and its control scheme is merely a clone of SSX's. (Another thing Mad Trix has in common with SSX is dreadfully long load time before levels.) The game features four pros (Jonny Moseley, Tanner Hall, Evan Raps, and Vincent Dorion) and five fictitious characters, all of which have specific stat levels and three unique tricks. You cannot create your own skier or customize any of the available skiers' stats, but you can earn extra outfits and better equipment. There is no auto-saving/loading, forcing you to save and load your data manually. Furthermore, the game limits you to one Mad Trix save file per memory card. You can adjust individual sound levels and choose among a few control schemes, the differences between them being negligible. Although a training mode called Ski Camp enables you to get a handle on the game's controls and trick system, it does not actually teach you anything.

Gameplay : 35
The two basic gameplay modes in Mad Trix, Freeride and Competition, have you skiing through various real-life locations, doing tricks and combos to earn points. Competition mode makes you earn medals and meet specific scores to advance, while Freeride removes the time limit and competitive nature of the Competition mode. Both modes contain the same events: Slopestyle and Big Mountain. The difference between the two events is one is set in untraditional skiing spots (including San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Rome) and features man-made obstacles, such as kickers and rails, while the other is set on mountains and contains natural obstacles. Moreover, the Slopestyle event forces you to earn medals, whereas the Big Mountain event challenges you to beat preset scores. You pull tricks the same way as in SSX; that is, you use the shoulder buttons to do grabs, the square button to tweak tricks, and the D-pad to prewind and execute spins and flips. In addition, you can collect special power-ups that, among other things, multiply your trick score and let you do your skier's special tricks.

Sounds okay so far, right? The only problem is the game lacks fun and excitement, especially when compared with other snow-based action-sports games, like SSX. And because Mad Trix tries so very hard to deliver an SSX-like experience, its failure to do so is all the more disappointing. The game's clumsy and greatly exaggerated physics (your skier jumps several feet in the air, has perfect balance, is magnetically attracted to rails, and can do flips on level ground and ski uphill) will obviously turn off freeskiing purists, yet its simple trick system and lack of speed and arcade-style frills will bore almost everyone else. In other words, very few gamers will enjoy this game.

Adding to the monotony, you are forced to ski each dull and badly designed course by your lonesome, as there are no AI opponents, nor is there a multiplayer mode. Competition mode contains little challenge, mostly because your only "opponents" are the environments and the clock. Doing tricks and stringing together combos is simplistic, and the wacky scoring system rarely reflects your performance. Overall, the instantly forgettable gameplay experience of Mad Trix is barely worth $5, let alone $50.

Replay Value : 25
Well, you can unlock extra skiers, slopes, equipment, and outfits...but most likely you will be pressing the eject button after 10 minutes' worth of unexciting gameplay. Thankfully, the lack of a multiplayer mode prevents you from subjecting others to this lousy game.

Overall : 30
There is no need for repetition; reread the opening sentence of the review for the final word on Jonny Moseley Mad Trix.

By: Cliff O'Neill 2/13/02



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