Games like MMX Hill Climb live and die on their progression. They’re tough, they’re supposed to be, but if you feel like you’re getting stuck too early on then you’re unlikely to keep pushing through. And MMX doesn’t quite manage to strike the balance that it needs. Which is sort of ironic, since it’s essentially a game about balancing. Albeit balancing when you’re driving a monster truck along ridiculously bumpy tracks. But it never quite manages to pull everything together. You don’t get the excitement of a Trials game, or the feelings of speed and control of more casual racers.
You’ve got two buttons to control everything with, the accelerator and the brake. When you’re in the air these control the tilt of your big-wheeled vehicle, when you’re on the ground they control how fast you’re going.
Using these simple inputs you need to navigate a series of tracks. You’re always racing against the ghost of another player, in an attempt to beat their distances or times and climb the leaderboard. Get to the end of the track and you open a new one.
But here’s the kicker – actually getting to the end of a track is a real chore. There are no checkpoints, so if you explode – which you will – you’re forced back to the start. And a fuel system means you can’t take things slow and steady, because you’ll run out of gas.
There are red orbs around the levels, and collecting these gives you points you can use to upgrade four attributes on your car. You’ll get faster, stabler, have more control, and stick to the road better. But even after several upgrades, you’ll find yourself struggling to get to the end of the first track.
You’ll start off enjoying yourself. Your car will explode a few times and you’ll think it’s all part of the learning process. But when you’re run the same section 20 times in one play and keep blowing up on a particularly annoying hill, the fun will quickly ebb away. And that’s a shame, because it feels like there should be a lot more to like here. The game looks great, and the idea of racing against your friend’s ghosts to show them who’s best is one that should have plenty of legs. Or, I guess, plenty of wheels.
But what you’re left with is a slightly frustrating experience. It asks a little too much of you, and doesn’t give you enough in return. And sometimes you’ll feel like the destruction of your car was far from justified. The whole thing starts to leave a bad taste in the mouth.
MMX Hill Climb has its moments, and when things are going well it can compete with some of the best games in the genre. But all too quickly you’re back to the grind, bashing your front bumper into the wrong part of the track and watching your dreams go up in a puff of digital smoke.
Even if you’re up for a challenge it’s likely that you’re going to find it all a bit too much, especially when the frustration inevitably kicks in.There are far better examples of the genre out there, that are kinder to you and ease you into the carnage. Unfortunately MMX Hill Climb just doesn’t manage to get it right.