The only experience I’ve had of off-road vehicles has been with a Quad Biking trip in Wales when I was 18. There is definitely some satisfaction to be had tearing up part of the countryside with a powerful engine. Still, it did scare the crap out of me at one point when the thing nearly toppled on top of me! Best to stick to Climax’s latest methinks, a much safer option.
Not having played any of the other games myself, it was a surprise to see that we’re now on to the fourth incarnation of the ATV Offroad Fury franchise. New additions include a Story Mode, increased vehicle types and a simple track editor.
The meat of the game is to be had with the all-new single player story mode. The plot is Tony Hawk’s-like with your character (male or female – your choice) trying to win their way back into the Fury Motorsports team after losing their bottle at a crucial race in the past. It’s all very ‘daytime TV’ and the voice acting and basic cutscenes do little to add anything other then link the races together, but it gives you a little more drive to compete in the later races.
The real fun is to be had with the wealth of different vehicles. Where as in the past the main staple of the game was with the ATVs, now there is the opportunity to grapple with MX bikes, trucks and buggies. All handle differently and depending on the track they skid and slide, as you’d expect them to. The ATVs I found to be particularly challenging to control initially, which isn’t helped by the constant ‘Off the Track’ warnings. Basically if you stray too far off the pre-set route you’ll get a warning, fail to get back on track and you’ll be placed right back to the point where you left the circuit. Still, once you manage to do a few laps and learn the route things get much easier.
One gripe I have is with the AI. On one occasion I could get round the track, easily keeping ahead of the competitors but play the same conditions again and the AI somehow manages to screech ahead of you in a totally unrealistic fashion, but I guess you could say this is keeping whole thing competitive. I suppose it wouldn’t be much fun if you could win easily EVERY time.
When you start to win races or pull off tricks during them, you’ll earn credits, and as you’d expect these can be turned into upgrades for your vehicles. These either change the look with a snazzy new facelift or more usefully allow you to tinker under the bonnet, increasing speed and acceleration for example. It’s basic but easy to play around with.
Multiplayer is decent enough with both online and offline racing modes along with a few mini-games, which are fun for a couple of minutes. I only tried the splitscreen mode but this worked well - as a ‘pick up and play’ title this scores highly.
As I mentioned earlier the developers have thoughtfully included a track editor. It’s a simple matter of placing blocks of track onto a grid and then tilting and tweaking it until you’re happy with the end result. These can then be saved and shared with friends. It’s simplistic but it helps finish off the complete package.
ATV Offroad Fury 4 is an entertaining ‘pick up and play’ title which never tries to be anything more than it is. You can spend an hour or just 10 minutes with this game, and still enjoy yourself. The graphics are distinctively PS2 and don’t push the hardware, and there are no surprises with the gameplay, but if you’re after an easygoing and fun racer to have a dabble with, or maybe something to play with a couple of mates after a few beers, this could be one to have a look at.