ATV Offroad Fury Pro

  • Developer: Climax
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

What gives me fury? Electrical goods packets that refuse to be opened without hacking at them wildly with a pair of scissors. People talking on their phones when they're being served in shops. Everything after the first season of Heroes.

Actually, that's not fury, that's mild consternation. Which is just as meaningful a tag for this, the latest in a stream of ATV games. After Unleashed, Untamed and the awfully-named Blazin' Trails, one more pointless subtitle isn't going to fool us.

Having previously woken up to the fact ATVs aren't enough for an increasingly passive audience, the series has been steadily expanding, going from one vehicle to several. It's not just ATVs this time, there are bikes, buggys, trucks and even snowmobiles locked away for you to scoot around on. Each can be raced in their own disciplines, but you can also stick them all together for a fender-bending race of thrilling proportions.

At least in theory. The racing isn't entirely heart-pounding, despite improvements over the last PSP game. Your competitors are a motley bunch who don't seem to react at all when you bump and nudge them. Instead they act like the rubber-banded automatons they are, always right on your tail no matter how far you try to zoom ahead. The handling never feels right either, and even the stunt elements fall flat.

There's plenty to do, at least, with a ton of bump-strewn tracks to race around as well as a track editor. The main campaign has you winning races for sponsors in exchange for credits, which can be used to buy new vehicles or upgrade them in comprehensive detail. So the depth is there and the game is pretty, performing without noticeable drops in frame-rate. It's just a shame the races lack bite. Character is more or less draped haphazardly on top by the way of loud rock tunes from screaming men with guitars, but all it ever does is drown out the buzzy noise of the vehicles.

It's hard to be extreme when your engine sounds like a wasp in a washing machine.

Infrastructure mode seems to have vanished between the US and European versions too, but at least there's ad-hoc. You can also connect your PSP to the PS2 version (which we actually liked a fair bit more than this) to unlock new things if you're so inclined. With all that in mind, there's enough content to plough through, and it's all tolerable, but it's not enough to hide the fact that Offroad Fury Pro is a pretty decent but ultimately average racer.


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