ATV: Offroad Fury Review
Yet another racing has been added to the ever-growing PS2 library. At the moment with the release of ATV: Offroad Fury, a little over ten racing games have seen the light of day on the PS2, a console that already homes nearly 50 games, and is only 5 months old. As I recall, the only other ATV game that exists on a console today is ATV: Quad Power Racing for the PSOne. Acclaim's effort at an ATV game turned out poor, the graphics were sluggish, the frame rates were horrible, and the gameplay downright slow. ATV: Quad Power Racing was definitely a rushed title, and it was a bad way to start off the ATV racing genre. To those people who have screenshots on the back of their PS2 boxes (some PS2 boxes don't have anything on the back of them), you will see a little shot of game called ATV: Offroad Fury, sometime after the PS2 launched, Sony announced their partnership with Rainbow Studios and that they will be developing ATV: Offroad Fury, and the skepticism was nothing but positive. And why shouldn't it be, after all Rainbow Studios utilized the PCs best racing engine when Motorcross Madness 2 was released sometime ago. Ask anyone with a high-end PC that has played Motorcross Madness 2 on it, and he/she will tell you that it is certainly one of the prettiest and best racing games. So now that Rainbow Studios is behind ATV: Offroad Fury, they will take the MM2 engine and use it on the PS2, and my, oh my what a success it turned out to be.
When I first glimpsed at the screenshots of ATV, I wasn't so pleased, mainly because they never showed me any landscape detail such as trees, and other important background textures. But after playing this game for several hours every day, I came down to the conclusion that the game's graphics are sovereign. Aside from the draw-in distances when you are in a completely open road, (I.E. not a race or track, just a 'go anywhere you want area', a lot like Smuggler's Run), the pop-up is pretty much not existent. When you are tossed into a real race in the Pro-Career mode, you will be treated to a milieu full of trees, dirt, gravel, and other typical off-road material. When eyes first make contact with the game, they will instantly be treated to some of the smoothest polygonal textures and characters in a videogame to date.
With the PS2's ability to crunch 25 million polygons with effects on, it seems like Rainbow Studios was able to get deep down into the core of the PS2, and bring out some exceptional vehicular detail. While I'm uncertain of the polygon strengths of each ATV, I'll make note that they look phenomenal, the amount of detail poured into one ATV is amazing, everything from the body, to the wheels picking up the dirt as they travel along the road, is wholly astonishing. The rider detail takes the same praise as the ATV detail. The bodies are super smooth, they execute tricks very realistically and the falling animations, although a bit too exaggerated, definitely up the "wow factor". The track details like I mentioned before are sweet, the picture doesn't get much cleaner than this, Rainbow Studios must have really gotten a lending help from Sony, not since SSX have I seen detail as good as ATV's. ATV being a four-player game and all, you would be surprised that that the game still runs at a crisp 30 frames per second, and 60 frames per second during a one player game. Another nifty little extra includes the dirt being kicked around by the ATVs as they make their way around the course, every area of the course is interactive with the wheels of the ATVs, what would have made it all better is if the tracks were temporarily left behind. ATV Offroad Fury suffers from one plague, in fact this flaw was found in NBA Live 2001 as well, at times the screen may distort on the top or bottom when you make a sharp turn, albeit its occurrence, this won't affect your gameplay at all, rather it just makes me wonder why this effect happens.
Where ATV shines the most bright is definitely gameplay, simulated physics and prodigious track design is only scratching the surface of this brilliantly executed all-terrain racing game. The game will greet you with an FMV (not CG, there is a huge difference), of ATV racers going all out performing stunts and jumping over huge mounds of dirt. It all opens up during a 'phat' rock song, performed by Strawhorse and it's called Atlanta. I had no luck at all trying to find it on my soon to be defunct "music search engine". But let's get back on track shall we? After the intro the main menu appears, it will allow you to select seven different options including; Training, MAXXIS Nationals, Stadium Supercross, Freestyle Competition, Cross Country Enduro, Pro-Career and Options.
Let me explain what each mode does. Training is the very first option on the screen, it will put you through a few test drills and an [annoying] announcer will teach you how to pull off many necessary moves such as higher jumps. MAXXIS Nationals is where you select an unlocked course that you raced on in Pro-Career mode and an ATV, then head off into that course against four other riders, under a certain amount of lap setting. Stadium Supercross is quite explanatory on its own, you basically pick the supercross track and an ATV, and ride on an incredibly bumpy surface against four other riders. Freestyle Competition is where you pick an open road and you ride on it with any vehicle, pulling off tricks using the directional buttons, Circle and Triangle. This is the mode where gamers will most likely put most of their time in. Cross Country lets you race on any of the open roads but with checkpoints present and a cursor to guide you, a lot like Smuggler's Run or Midnight Club. And Pro-Career will take you through 11 different races, on 11 different tracks, you will pick an ATV and stick with it through out the whole time, every race won will unlock you a new track.
That does it for the modes, but now let me discuss how many tracks are available in total. You have 11 normal ATV tracks, with one checkered area to cross in a loop like fashion. 7 supercross stadiums, 5 go anywhere areas for tricks and air, and 5 Cross Country settings taken from the 5 open road areas. In total you've got 28 locations to either race on or perform stunts on or go supercross, all with different environments; snow, mud, sand, gravel or night time, what else do you need? You are given the selection of 11 ATV units to select from, the manufacturers include; Honda, Yamaha and Polaris. I can't stress it enough, but I just can't help but love the addictive gameplay that ATV offers me. I don't know if it's the sheer amount of replay value, the high air stunts, the multiplayer modes, the speed or all of the aforementioned, ATV: Offroad Fury is simply an amazing game, no-one and I mean 'no-one' should miss out on ATV. I could keep on writing and writing about ATV all day long, on how amazing the gameplay is, how the sense of speed is present, or how cool the tricks are, but I won't, I'll just end the gameplay right here.
The sound deserves all the attention possible. Sony signed up some great and talented bands to ATV: Offroad Fury's soundtrack, while many of you haven't heard of, one or two may stand out. Alice in Chains (Them Bones), Anthrax (Crush), Strawhorse (Atlanta & Fishbowl), Primus (Jerry Was a Race Car Driver), Ultraspank (Click & Crumble), Sevendust (Denial), Bender (Isolate & Superfly), Strung Out (Mephisto & Scarecrow), Soundgarden (Spoonman), Cirrus (Stop and Panic), and Appolo Four Forty (Yo! Future) all make the cut in the soundtrack, and my what a soundtrack this is. Not since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has a soundtrack build up my adrenaline like ATV does, there may be one or two songs that I dislike, but never the less Sony did an excellent job of constructing one sweet soundtrack. And as for sound effects, you just have your basic engine noise and rider grunts as he/she would take a hard fall to the ground, the soundtrack is where it's at really.
This being a simulation game and all, the controls are superb. Controlling ATVs is nowhere near being a chore, instead it's a whole lotta' fun. The vehicles respond smoothly, making sharp turns with ATVs is cake, using the analog is the preferred way for maneuverability, it just feels more realistic when you use the analog, and controlling the ATV is a simple task. Steering wheels are compatible with ATV as well, if you have that comes with a gear shift or has a gear shift attached to the wheel, then you're all set to go. The up and down buttons can be used for the gear shift, you need the up and down buttons for ideal landings so that you can land parallel to the ground and have a safe landing. Honestly though the controls are no big deal, they take absolutely no time to get used to.
In the end I must admit, at first glance I was not expecting ATV: Offroad Fury to be as good as it actually is, but after going one on one with this game for a couple of days, and more than two dozen hours, I was pleasantly surprised... no I was thrilled [there you go] at how amazing the game plays and how great it looks. I haven't played a game as enjoyable as ATV: Offroad Fury for months, the replay value and the gameplay alone makes this a must have title for all PS2 owners out there. With the four-player races, I urge you to go grab yourself a PS2 multi-tap, three friends and some sleeping bags, 'cause your party may take all night. I praise Sony and Rainbow Studios for pulling off one of the best racing games to hit the PS2 so far. Definitely a must have game for your Playstation 2 collection. Did I mention that Offroad Fury is four-players?
2/19/2001 Arnold Katayev