Jeremy McGrath's Offroad

Barely passable.

By Daavpuke, Posted 12 Jul 2012

Developer 2XL Games is no stranger to racing games. In fact, they’ve been responsible for almost nothing else since the release of Baja: Edge of Control. With Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad (JMO), they’re trying to reconnect with the console audiences, after leaving for iPhone for some time. It seems that the limited platform has not been kind to the subpar overall design for this particular terrain roadshow.

As the name suggests, the game is loosely based on Sir McGrath’s exploit in the racing business. At least, there’s a muffled electronic voice of the man’s likeness in the game. Other than that, don’t expect a lot from sound and visuals alike. While they certainly aren’t the worst, textures across the limited 7 tracks remain flat, which creates an artificial scene predominantly portrayed through a brown mud shape. Life is added through sides of plants or occasional debris, but again those are limited and bland. The audio goes just one peg below this and offers a mix of hollowed sounds and grating engines, as if recorded from afar. Luckily, this doesn’t count as a deal breaker by any means, but the gameplay better step it up to make this seem less noticeable.

First signs of this are hopeful, as JMO offers a decent 23 tier campaign with 5 different cars, each with separate experience and upgrade possibilities. Divided between five different settings such as speed or handling, players can upgrade their car by completing tracks or even just perform feats during races. As the campaign progresses, cars become heftier and each have their own handling that gets noticeably enhanced due to leveling. This mechanic also gives extra pep to the challenge rating, by progressively making opponents drive faster, which spurs the player to make the correct decision regarding the upcoming track. For instance, the upcoming race might involve a ton of sharp turns, so investing in acceleration will do a lot more than going for a good speed rating.

Jeremy McGrath's Offroad - NoobFeed Review

It’s with this excellent use of racing tactics in mind, combined with some excellent tips such as using the clutch to shave seconds off a lap, that the flipside of the game strikes an even harder blow. For all these good ideas JMO presents, it squanders it on a repetitive and floating arcade experience. The 7 tracks aren’t nearly different enough to be entertaining more than once and having to repeat these endlessly becomes old quickly. Once the track is somewhat mapped, simply following paths or the instructions passed on the screen become mind numbing. Challenge steps aside for needless repetition and even switching to a higher difficulty rating won’t help much.

In addition, driving in itself packs too little weight to be thrilling. Cars seem to float or slide through any of the flat surfaces, which doesn’t correspond to the nature of off road racing. What is supposed to be a driving journey defined by even the slightest difference in soil reverts more to a shuffleboard. Even for arcade settings, there is too little consequence given to any of the game’s gaps, bumps and most importantly its actual off road features. Going through the track’s sides is usually a huge short cut, given the slowdown from it is nowhere near as sizable as using momentum to cut out an entire piece of the race. Most takeovers are performed in a similar way, by cutting off the inside of a corner and driving over dozens of plants and rocks with virtually no penalty. Even the classic Super Off Road is more consequent when it comes to this design choice. Unlike other elements, the vital flaw of racing poses a considerable issue for the game, as it lacks any appeal and makes playing a chore rather than a pastime or even a reward of any sort.

Unsurprisingly, this means there is little added value to the other game modes that allow for some free racing or time attacks. There isn’t a concrete reason to once more visit the tracks after the campaign anyway. Yet, the final nail comes from the multiplayer that combines difficulties of creating sessions with an inactive community waiting endlessly for a game to start. With no friends, the JMO multiplayer will be a rare treat of mediocrity.

Jeremy McGrath's Offroad - NoobFeed Review

As a smaller title, Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad isn’t a failure due to some synergy among its design elements, but it’s also barely passable due to the actual racing being its weakest point. An arcade racing game without fringes can’t afford its one draw to come up short and this title does exactly that. Paired with a weak presentation and multiplayer difficulties, this game sees none of its potential truly ever blossom.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): D3Publisher
Developer(s): 2XL Games
Genres: Racing
Themes: Offroad Driving, Rally
Release Date: 2012-06-26

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