It's all-terrain, but is it all that?
If you ever rode one of these as a kid, or remember when this was considered futuristic, then you may be able to guess about how long it's been since I was on an ATV. If not, think Members Only jackets and strategically placed combs in the back pocket, a time when Sugar Smacks was an acceptable title for a breakfast cereal. Get the idea? It's been a while.
Since then, the pastime of us country-boys has blossomed into a very lucrative offroad sport, which in turn has slightly bubbled into a modestly profitable two-game series. ATV Offroad Fury 2 is fun, full of tricks and has plenty of game modes. It just never reaches the truly exciting mark set by the real-life sport.
The gameplay is in typical offroad racing fashion. Pick your rider and his boots, gloves and goggles. Now choose from one of the game's 20+ ATVs, though not all are initially available. You must bust tricks to rack up points, which can be spent purchasing other ATVs and more rider equipment, so you stay color coordinated.
The best place for this, as in most racing games, is the Champion mode. Nationals, Supercross, Enduro and Freestyle circuits come in both wimpy Amateur and seasoned Pro flavors. You get a lot of racing challenges for your buck. The four other NPCs race you hard and the terrain is unforgiving. However, I found myself wishing for more company on the road to spice things up.
Players trek through the game's 40 expansive environments, across the hills, over the river and, at times, through the woods. You will slide over snow and ice, plow through sand, wade through waist-high streams and negotiate slippery mud patches. The different terrain will affect your driving ability and require you to stay on your toes. As a nice touch, the terrain will also come home with you as it cakes up and adheres to your bike and clothing.
But that is the extent of the game's graphical wonder. It doesn't look bad, but it could look a lot better. Textures are flat, there is not much detail on the ATVs in-game, and the water effects don't impress at all.
The game desperately tries to make up for its marginal looks with lots to do. Other game modes include Single Race, Practice, Freeride, Freestyle (bust your best tricks here) and a decent Waypoint Editor. Freestyle and Freeride are great for unlimited offroad romping. Plus, in Freestyle you can pop off tricks for more points. But keep your style fresh - you will score lower points for repeated stunts. Both modes are interesting for a while, yet not very captivating.
In lieu of a map editor or creator, ATV Offroad Fury 2 offers a Waypoint editor. Each of the game's wide open Enduro environments has waypoints that can be rearranged to create new routes through existing areas. This ups the replay value a bit and is pretty simple to use. You even have the option to do a test run, and then bounce right back into edit mode if you encounter a problem.
ATV Offroad Furry 2 also features four mini-games. There's Tag, where a ball is attached to your ATV, which impairs your speed and makes you an easy target for other riders who will attempt to ram you for the ball. The longer you hold it, the more points you will earn. You can also play Hockey, King of the Hills and Treasure Hunt. The mini-games aren't bad and breathe new life into the otherwise bland exercise of rounding tracks lap after lap.
The game is even online enabled for up to 5 players. Providing you have the Online Adapter, it's definitely something to check out. Live competition always provides the most thrilling and unpredictable challenges, although the game types are pretty standard.
And the easy, intuitive control will make victory more certain. When analog steering works, it's a dream, and it works very well in ATV Offroad Fury 2. Since tricks play a pivotal role in your progression, you're given several different camera options to better view yourself busting skills. Tricks come off smoothly as well - just hold Triangle or Circle and press one or a more directional buttons. But make sure you hit those jumps clean and have your ATV angled appropriately. Smooth landings pile on tons of speed that can decide a race...
...which brings me to the game's impressive physics system. Shocks absorb...er, uh...shock and impact very well and you bounce accordingly. It's cool to watch the rider bend his knees and elbows in response to jumps and landings and sway back and forth on turns.
When it all gets moving, ATV Offroad Fury 2 works very well. It never really crosses the threshold to thrilling gameplay and an absent replay doesn't help, but it does kick up a lot of dirt and will leave racing fans satisfied.