Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageYou may think of 2XL Games as a somewhat unknown quantity, and yet for rally videogame fans it’s quite probably that you’ve already played one of their videogames. There may not be the trademark familiarity of all of Codemasters’ racing titles in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad, nor is there the push-pull aggression of the MotorStorm series, but there is some common ground shared between this and 2XL Games’ debut outing, BAJA: Edge of Control.

Since working with THQ, 2XL Games has concentrated on delivering high quality mobile videogame experiences, retaining their specialisation in alternative racing. Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad builds on this most modern heritage, coming back to console formats with a bite sized rallying experience. This is a videogame which knows Electronic Theatre Image its place: Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad isn’t DiRT, but as a digitally distributed title available for a fraction of the price it’s not a bad imitation.

Though of course, it is a budget priced impersonation of Codemasters’ genre leading franchise; if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then the UK racing studio must be blushing right now. Everything from the handling to the colour palette used in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad screams Colin McRae DiRT 2, but as that’s arguably the finest rally videogame series in the last decade there are certainly worse places for a pocket-money downloadable title to look for inspiration.

The Arcade mode is simply an exhibition style event, with customisable one-off races being the primary discipline. Before each race you select the vehicle class and set-up, then your vehicle before customising the race event. In the rather short Career mode – offering a totalElectronic Theatre Image of twenty three races, most of which last only one lap – the only different is that of experience points used to buy upgrades and a lack of race customisation.

The experience system in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad’s Career mode is welcome, and affects not only the single-player gameplay but online multiplayer as well. As the player overtakes other racers on track, completes laps in first place or score significant air time, amongst other actions, they will earn XP. Before beginning the next race the XP is added to your meter and turned into a number of upgrade points, which can then be used to improve your vehicle’s handling, top speed, acceleration or braking statistics. It’s all under the hood of course – you’ll never get a breakdown of what improvements are being made where – but as you can reassign each upgrade point every race such detail is never really needed.

While the handling clearly has the mark of Colin McRae DiRT 2 on it, as stated above, it does take the forgiving nature one step further. In fact, the handling of vehicles in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad can feel somewhat spongy, and so you’ll be thankful that 2XL Games have given you plenty ofElectronic Theatre Image room to run off the track without any penalty bar a limited top speed. The e-brake and clutch boost are a welcome inclusion, though truth be told it’s unlikely that you’ll use the mechanic until playing on the harder difficulty settings, and even then players with any level of skill can just ignore them.

Online gameplay is present, but little more than functional. Straight races which mean nothing to the player beyond the start and finish line (aside from the online leaderboards of course), Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad lives-and-dies on its single-player gameplay. Other areas of technical capability aren’t too impressive either, with only a handful of vehicles and tracks offer very basic presentation. While the tracks feature commendable draw distances and lots of vegetation, the vehicles are less impressive. No dirt or damage will be collected during the races, with vehicles crossing the finishing line looking like they’ve just come from the showroom floor, and only the most basic particle effects present on even the Electronic Theatre Image dustiest of tracks. A little mud splatter is evident when driving through puddles, but this leaves no impression on the track itself. What’s more, signs and fences that you knock down on one lap will magically be back in place and perfectly stable on the next.

2XL Games show the quality of their experience with the rally racing genre through the immediately enjoyable nature of Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad’s gameplay. This latest release is far from being groundbreaking work, but by the same regard its inoffensive virtual rally racing. It’s not got the depth of SEGA Rally or the longevity of any of the DiRT titles, but it’s a cheap, welcoming entertainment package. If you’re looking for a videogame to keep you entertained on a lazy Saturday afternoon or simply something to pass back-and-forth with a few friends in an evening, you could do far worse than Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad.

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