This is a rejected review I wrote for Gearedforgamers.com. The reason the review was rejected is because I’d never played an off road racing game in my life before, so my evaluation of the game was rather crap without any contextual knowledge of the medium as a whole. Also, I was really harsh on this poor game that probably didn’t deserve this kind of treatment, I guess I just felt like destroying something beautiful. I’ve replaced instances of the game’s name with [this game], not because anybody asked me to, but because I really think that I pulled a total bitchface on this game.
In [this game], players race four-wheeled, 800-horsepower off road race trucks, rally cars, pro buggies and pro lite trucks. Career mode follows [some guy’s] bid for the Pro2 championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Players can race up to seven friends or strangers over XBOX Live. The title costs 800 Microsoft points, or $9.99 on the XBOX Live Arcade.
The reason I wanted to review this game is that, in the trailer I saw a lifted green buggy that reminded me of my very favorite childhood toy: A pink Micro Machine VW Bug monster truck. At the time, I was disappointed by its pinkness, my least favorite color next to yellow, but enamored by its truckness, and the almost-an-engine sound it made when you drove it over stuff. I’m pretty sure the bug burned up in a wildfire that overtook my father’s house in the middle nineties. Would that it were this game instead!
I think I would have more hours of constructive, interactive fun with that old Micro Machine than [this game] any day of the week. But let’s be fair, comparing a favorite toy to a ten dollar XBLA title is a little like comparing my grandma’s handmade tortillas to any other food on the planet. There are just some things that nothing will ever be better than.
Pink Micro Machines aside, there are some things I should say before launching into this review full-boar. First, I’ve never played an off road race game before in my life. When I went to review this title, I did some research and read a couple of other [this game] reviews, and it seems like my fellow game critics are saying that this is actually a fairly good showing for the genre. It looks like we may be dealing with a case of what I like to call ‘least pregnant teen mom at night school.’
Do you get a gold star for sucking less than the pile of suck you find yourself in? That depends on how desperate you are for an off road racer. Personally, I’m sticking with my old friend, Trails Evo. It’s not like the fact that I’m fake driving a car instead of fake driving a motorbike is worth so very much that I’d give up the amazing graphics, awesome settings, sweet soundtrack, fun game mechanics, a babillion user-made tracks and thousands of people to play on live at any time of day or night.
But that’s just me. I’m weird like that.
First, let’s talk about the most glaring issue I had with the game, which is that of the three available camera views, the one I like doesn’t actually work. A player can have the camera behind the car, in the car, or in front of the car. If you recall, the whole reason I wanted to play this game is because I saw a car that looked like my favorite childhood toy, Pink Micro Machine Monster Bug. So, when I was playing the game, I very much wanted to chose the camera angle where I could see the car, also because I enjoy cars, and like watching them drive over and around things. But the camera doesn’t stay anchored to the back of the car, rather it floats around drunkenly as the player navigates the track. Sometimes, it doesn’t even focus on the car or the track, but more up in the air, or off in the distance. The good news is, there are two other camera angles that work perfectly fine.
The driving mechanism is totally standard, handling is normal. I wish that the game supported haptic feedback, but it doesn’t. I do like that the player can chose how they want the car to handle overall (average speed, sticky tires or very fast, soft suspension.) Another perk on [this game] is that, unlike my BFRG (Best Friend Racing Game) Trials Evo, [this game] lets you completely customize your car’s stats using game experience points to allot upgrades to the categories of handling, top speed, acceleration and braking.
The tracks aren’t bad, they’re fairly well designed, but again, Trials Evo runs [this game] completely off the road (so to say) on the track for track awesome. Not only does Trials have the aforementioned babillion user generated tracks, they also have about three times as many original tracks, and a much more slick track picker interface.
Enough about the best racing game ever, let’s talk about this [this game]. While racing, the sound can be a problem. You have a co-driver that warns you of upcoming road obstacles and who sounds like he’s yelling at you through a paper towel tube pressed up against your helmet. For at least an hour, I thought he was saying “overdressed” instead of “over crest.” I just thought it was some off road racing term I didn’t know about. Other than that, the car sounds are basically standard, which is nice because that’s the only soundtrack you get. Unless you count [some guy] repeating the same handful of helpful tips at random while the track loads, other than the paper towel cheer-leader and canned race car engine, there is no soundtrack whatsoever, which can get really dull after a couple of tracks. Although, you won’t have to endure it for long, since the whole career takes about four hours to complete, less if you quit once they start repeating tracks.
I’d like to tell you how the multiplayer works, but there’s no local multiplayer and when I went on Live to try and get a game, there was nobody online to play with.
From what I’ve seen of this game, it’s just too expensive for what you’re getting. Spend the extra $5 and buy Trials Evo, don’t mess around with [this game] unless you are a die hard off road race fan and nothing close will do. If the game was 400 points, I’d give it a much better review, but if you’re already spending $10, you might as well spend $15 for a game you’ll really enjoy that has everything you might need for months of gameplay rather than hours.