Its Screamer series gave the PC its own Ridge Racer, lauded by fan and critic alike. It's the same developer who today, more than ten years later, ready with its bid for the definitive motocross game. Excitement is hard to find this time around.
If you're not be familiar with the motocross world, that FIM licence emblazoned into the titles means that the game's officially sanctioned. So courses are primarily held on European soil, and that the motocross classes consist of MX1 (450cc), MX2 (250cc) and MX3 (650cc). In this game version of the Championships, only the first two are included.
Everything points to the developer taking a realistic spin on the sport. Therefore it's not unexpected to have the first option presented as "Official Mode", where you can choose to run a single race, participate in special events, or start an official FIM tournament. Several of the sport's biggest names can be selected as characters, and if you're already a fan of the sport, should your knowledge of both rides and racers will be able to give you an advantage.
If you'd rather put your own mark on the game, Milestone has also made sure to include a "MUD World Tour" the two-wheeled racer's own career mode. Race, earn cash, and use to unlock the game's content.
The races are categorized into events, all of which are collections of various races and challenges. A typical event will, for example, consist of a race against only one opponent, a checkpoint race, a normal race and a "Trick Battle" where making the most acrobatic tricks and score as many points as possible wins the day.
Before you get this far you must take control of one of the game's four "Heroes" - stereotypical personalities who here look like they were pulled straight out of a cartoon. Each of the four heroes have their strengths and weaknesses in four different categories, and all can be upgraded if you have enough money in the account. There's restrictions on what Heroes you can use for certain events, so spreading the cash is a necessity.
All this seems incidental until you sit on the motorcycle. Contrary to what one might have expected from a game with an official license, this is as every bit as arcade as if you've slammed in a pound into a cabinet and hiked your leg over a replica bike build.
Yet despite having experience with both car and motorcycle games, Milestone seems off with the physics in MUD. You rarely feel that the tires actually hit the ground, and the game never seems to decide how to respond when running into obstacles or opponents - sometimes nothing happens, while other times it's fired several feet into the air. These issues combine to create a strangely weightless feeling, and you quickly begin to realise that chance plays much to large a role in relation to where you end up on the victory podium.
MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship tries nothing original, spectacular or even surprising. Instead you're left with the impression of a perfectly competent but fairly bog-standard arcade racer. It's not awful, but it is disappointing when you take the developer's experience into account.