Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad PS3 Review
Jeremy McGrath, known for his illustrious supercross career, decided to ditch the motorbikes for his latest, swapping it instead for a new passion: off-road 4×4’s. Offroad may have time to rev its engines on Xbox Live for a while now, but in March 2013 the racer finally appeared on the European PlayStation Network.
So, has this cut-price downloadable run out of grip, or is this PSN release worthy of a fresh set of tires?
Offroad’s main focus, its Career mode, challenges players to win races across a number of varying vehicle categories. It’s a very simple set-up, and one that is only likely to keep you busy for just a couple of hours at best. However, the XP system offers a modest incentive, possibly increasing the potential playtime for completionists. This XP system awards you for winning races, drifting, jumping and, oddly enough, smashing into the barriers that flank the tracks. This XP can be used to upgrade your vehicles handling, top speed, acceleration and braking — yet, in practice the upgrades don’t seem to make much actual difference, resulting in a feeling of wasted effort and some serious missed potential.
Outside of the Career there’s an Arcade mode which allows for any track to be raced with your own rules. There’s also the obligatory online multiplayer mode for up to eight players, complete with leaderboards and invites to get your friends in on the action.
As with all racers the handling is paramount to your success, thankfully this is one area that Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad really excels. The vehicles are very responsive, all running at a silky smooth 60-frames-per-second. This adds-up to an incredibly satisfying experience as you tackle the jumps and corners that the tracks throw at you. There is no bigger thrill in the game than powering towards a hairpin and drifting expertly round it, overtaking numerous opponents in the process.
Visually, Offroad is something of a mixed bag. Environments, despite the small numbers of locale styles, can look pretty impressive with lighting and intricate details making them a pleasing place to race through. Sadly, they aren’t as interactive as you may hope and despite all the mud, snow and sand that makes up the track none of this is shown splattered on the vehicles as you progress. Your car is forever clean. The only attempt to add an extra bit of danger comes in the form of boulders, hay bales and the like that awkwardly roll into player’s paths. These feel very out of place in an otherwise serious off-road game.
There are numerous vehicle types to drive, including rally cars, buggies and trucks all with their own set of liveries to choose from. Naturally they all handle differently, with manoeuvrability and acceleration being the main noticeable changes. Lighter vehicles are able to speed up faster but lose out in the control department, whereas it’s vice versa for the heavier end of the spectrum.
While Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad may have nailed one of the most fundamental aspects of a racing game in its handling, the rest of the package doesn’t really reach those same heights.
The variety is lacking, the graphics are inconsistent and there’s very little incentive to keep playing beyond the main career.
It’s certainly not the worst way to spend £9 but off-road racing fans may want to save their money for a more substantive full retail game, such as Codemaster’s DiRT series perhaps?