MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
- Written by Sm1tty Sm1t
Racing games are always difficult to step into. Will you be facing a simulation, where every acceleration and corner requires lifelike movement to master? Or is it an arcade racer, giving players nitro boost and insane corner drifting? There are benefits to each, of course, depending on the type of player you are, but rarely does a game pull off the happy medium of both. Jeremy McGrath Offroad mixes realism with arcade, but blends it together to create an XBLA game well worth its price.
The foundation of the gameplay itself is simple: race fast, pass cars. Although, for anyone who knows anything about offroad racing, it’s never that simple to execute. Thankfully, the design of the game allows users from all skill levels to get behind the wheel and immediately feel like they’re the best driver on the track. Players can change their skill level on the fly, earning experience based on the level you play at -- more earned at higher difficulties of course.
That XP is then used to level players up, with each level earning a skill point that can be distributed into acceleration, top speed, handling, or braking. As you increase skill in any one ability, on-track performance is affected. Unfortunately, the skills you use to increase a particular trait stays only with that car, so players moving their way through the vehicle ranks (there are many) find themselves pinned to the vehicle they upgraded, unless they’re willing to race at a disadvantage. Another disappointment is that the handling and braking skills seem to be unimportant, translating to little benefit on the track -- at least, little noticeable benefit. Instead, dumping points into top speed and acceleration are clearly the easiest way to victory.
Visually, Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s not bad either. Tracks are easily identifiable whether you’re racing on a frozen tundra, speeding through northern forests, or drifting through dangerous canyons. Car designs and distant terrain is clearly rendered, but lack real depth and damage sustained throughout the race doesn’t transfer to vehicles, resulting in easy passes simply by ramming into fellow racers. The tracks themselves differ in length and location, but as your career progresses you’ll find that each track location is used and reused to the point that you’ll start memorizing exactly where ‘traps’ are sprung. Falling rocks, hay bales, and enormous snow balls will roll into your path, but after a few races they become easily avoidable and more annoying to watch than nuisance to get through.
Online is...for lack of a better explanation: dead. In each instance of attempting to play online against human racers, I was unable to join or host a game.
Overall, Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is a good game and certainly worth its price tag of $10.00 (800 MS Points). It combines the fun of arcade with a touch of simulation to create an experience that will provide hours of fun. Players have the option of leveling up multiple vehicles, racing against friends (or themselves), and can see the results on an online leaderboard. Career, Arcade, and Online mode is available, though to play online you may need to find some friends to purchase the game. While the tracks become redundant, the gameplay itself is good and will appease most racing fans who are awaiting the next installment of their favorite retail title.
Overall Score: 6.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: Reverb Communications provided a copy of this game for retail purposes