Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Store just welcomed Jeremy McGrath's Offroad, the latest game from 2XL Games, the developers behind Baja: Edge of Control. Unsurprisingly, this is a racing game taking place on dirt tracks where four-by-four vehicles are kings. Before deciding if this new title is worth its price (800MP/$9.99), why don't you take a look at our quick review?
In addition to an arcade mode (including races, time trial or practice events) and a multiplayer mode, Jeremy McGrath's Offroad features a career mode in which you have to race around the world and discover Michigan, Utah, but also places like Equator or the Netherlands. All in all, 6 locations and 6 tracks (only), with no reverse or mirror versions of them to add to the total. Content may seem a bit light in that respect, but the presence of several types of vehicles offers a bit more variety than first expected. There are actually five different classes, among which Sportsman Buggies, Pro Buggies, Pro-Lite Trucks, Rally Cars and Trophy trucks. Each category only includes one car, but there are obviously a bunch of different liveries. The only downfall is that the game does not really incite you to change once you've settled for one.
Indeed, for some strange reason, all the upgrades you can add are linked to the paint job you were using when you purchased them. What is means is that you basically have to start from scratch every time you want to select a new livery. Races allow to win experience points, the amount depending on your driving skills and the difficulty setting you choose. Contrary to most games, you don't need to finish first to gain experience, which means the game never gets frustrating, even if you are a terrible driver. A bunch of things can be upgraded, like the car's handling, its top speed or acceleration, but the brakes can also be tuned to be more effective. Three different set-ups are also proposed before you start a race, so you can adapt your car to your driving style. It's not much but it is a nice addition anyway, especially considering that upgrades really bring new sensations.
Once on the track, you will need to make a good use of your E-brake in tight corners, but the boost clutch can make a difference too - or so they say, since we did not particularly understand how to use it properly. Jeremy McGrath's Offroad is clearly an arcade title which is quite reminiscent of the old games of the genre, so don't expect to find a very realistic physics engine. That being said, if you enjoy jumping and drifting on bumpy roads, you should have your fun here. We were surprised to see random obstacles - giant snowballs or bales of hay - roll down the hills sometimes, as Jeremy McGrath's Offroad does not look like that kind of arcade racers. They are obviously supposed to slow down the cars, but it feels rather out of place and it does not look very good either. Aside from that, the handling of cars is pretty fun once you know the tracks, making the game an enjoyable racer in the end.
Technically, it would be quite unfair to claim that Jeremy McGrath's Offroad does not look great for a $9.99 digital release. The environments are very nice, with quite a lot of details and an almost photo-realistic look. Lighting effects are also praiseworthy overall, but expect no rain nor night races in the package deal. If you are into racing games, you will agree that a 60 frame per second framerate makes a huge difference in terms of sensations and playability. Well, good news, 2XL Games managed to deliver a title running at 60 fps in all circumstances, whether you're racing against the clock or opponents. Now, it comes with a price of course, so car models look really poor when compared to those of the Dirt series for example. Cars cannot be damaged either, nor can they get dirty, which is a bit of a shame considering that this is an offroad racing game.
Even though not everything is perfect technically speaking, Jeremy McGrath's Offroad is clearly one of the best looking games on Xbox Live and Playstation Store. The only problem it has really is that there are very few tracks to race on, and we all know that players are very demanding when it comes to content. With only two hours to complete the career mode, the success of Jeremy McGrath's Offroad will mostly depend on its multiplayer mode. If you have some friends to play with online, then you probably won't regret paying a few bucks. If not, we advise you take the trial version for a drive so you know what to expect.