ATV Off Road Fury 4
- Developer: Climax
- Publisher: SCEE
There's clearly something alluring about the whiny buzz of a quad bike, since they keep popping up in games despite what would seem to be enormous apathy from the vast majority of gamers. After all, once you've razzed around one set of muddy tracks, what else is there to do?
Well, woah there. Stow away your jump-to-conclusions mat. This latest in the didn't-even-know-it-was-a-franchise Off Road Fury series actually shows remarkable evolution for a genre that could quite happily burble along doing much the same thing as always. Most notably, it's no longer just about the quad bikes. Perhaps taking a none-too-subtle cue from MotorStorm, you can now also saddle up on motocross bikes, buggies and beefy trucks. Courses are split into light and heavy to cater for the strengths of each vehicle type but considering the focus of the game's past has been so narrow, this new array of vehicle options can only be a good thing. All vehicles can be tuned, tweaked and customised using an impressive upgrade system, while new rider outfits and decals can be unlocked as you advance through the leaderboards.
There are now point-to-point races across open terrain for a more realistic off-road experience, while the game works with ATV Offroad Fury Pro on the PSP to swap vehicles and circuits. There's also a story mode, but it's a bit naff and the cut-scenes are best skipped. Best of all, there's now a track editor. The options are fairly limited - it's a basic 2D "put the pieces on the grid" affair - but there's enough scope to ensure that you'll be able to keep yourself amused after you've grown tired of the existing courses.
And as with previous Off Road Fury games, the handling is fun and accessible while the competitive AI supplies a surprisingly tough challenge right from the start. Add in a decent online multiplayer mode, and you've got a commendable example of a last-gen game that's still willing to evolve and offer more for your money.
- Developer: Razorworks
- Publisher: Xplosiv
The flipside to the evolution of ATV Off Road Fury, of course, is this dreary, lifeless effort. Although the title has been changed, it's the latest in the inexplicably tenacious Ford Racing series and continues that product line's tradition of bland design, minimal excitement and technical under-achievement.
The Land Rover brand joins Ford this time, making for a roster of eighteen off-road vehicles. All of them look cheap and fake, with lazy modelling that looks like the basic chassis shape has simply been dipped in whatever vaguely shiny paint texture they had to hand. It's surprising that Land Rover and Ford signed off on the game at all. If their vehicles handled as sluggishly in reality as they do here, both companies would go out of business overnight.
Most damning of all, not only is there no deformation or damage, but these off-roaders can't even get dirty. Not a speck of muck adheres to their plasticky frames. If the lacklustre circuits don't turn you off, the sight of these rigs still looking showroom fresh after three laps round a muddy quarry should demonstrate just how basic this game really is.
The generic can't-be-arsed title says it all. It's the sort of thing you might consider buying for your Dad, should you spot it in the GBP 1.99 bin at the supermarket two days before his birthday, even though you know he doesn't really play games all that much.