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MX vs ATV Alive: Clever pricing structure or shameless money-grabber?

Breaking bones, not the bank...

The big thing here is what THQ's marketing drones are calling 'hybrid pricing'. MX vs ATV: Adjective - this year it's Alive - will sell at a 'reduced' price - $40 in the US, £25 (roughly) in the UK - but will it still feel like a 'triple A' title.

The catch? There'll be loads of premium DLC on offer. Ah. So the plan is to hook people in with the low price of the boxed game, then tempt their wallets with loads of fancy, overpriced helmets and bikes. Savvy. Very savvy.

The game has, at least, had a massive overhaul since its predecessor, Reflex. Among the features the developers are excited about are vastly improved, bone-smashing collisions between riders and persistent tracks left in the mud by your vehicle.

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Handling-wise, it's aimed squarely at the casual market; simple, chunky arcade controls and auto-balancing are front and centre, so you don't spend half the race on your arse.

To keep your mind from wandering, the game will constantly be rewarding you - and that means even if you lose. So whenever you so much as enter a race, do a time trial, or customise your bike, you'll instantly unlock a new helmet, or a new mud flap, or whatever.

A pretty cool idea for the most casual of casual gamers, but we can see these 'rewards' losing all meaning when we're getting one every five seconds.

Upgrading your rider and bike will take advantage of an XP system that's consistent across both single-player and online modes.

So if you spend a few hours racing online, the experience you've earned can be transferred to your single-player career, and vice versa. So the hybrid pricing thing might seem a little cynical when you analyse it, but it's a wise move on THQ's part, and we can see other developers following suit.

It's a model already proven to work by MMOs that have recently gone free-to-play on PC, like Lord of the Rings Online. Sucker them in with an enticing initial price-point, then shovel DLC down their willing gobs.

Otherwise, this is a bold and vibrant, if unadventurous, addition to the predictably good MX series, with enough improvements to validate its existence as a sequel.

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