Jeremy McGrath’s Off Road is the newest racing game to join the Xbox Live Arcade family and an average one at that. As one who is not a big fan of the racing genre, I found myself enjoying the game.
Let me start off with the maps. The maps in the game look fantastic the full HD does wonders for the environment. There are only a handful of maps and some of them look almost the same. Some of the maps have an interactive part, like a rock slide coming down a mountain into a track to give you a chance to get ahead if you are having difficulty catching up. The interactive parts are fun, even though by the time you get there you may already be in first,so it won’t matter as much. For an XBLA game though, this has to be one of the most visually impressive ones I have seen.
The cars in the game leave little to behold, you get four different car classes, each one having different skins to put onto the car. This is where the RPG elements mentioned before come in. As you race you gain experience points from things such as passing cars, breaking fences or signs, or from being in the air for a while after a jump. As you gain enough experience points you get to add them to the stats of the car, so now you can improve on things like handling or acceleration. This was a great idea, the only downside is that the applied points are attached to the skin of the car, so wanting to use a different skin would mean having to start the experience gain over.
The biggest thing I found really annoying was the assistant that you have with you in your car. He basically sits there and tells you what the next turn is going to be so you can prepare ahead of time. This problem can be easily remedied by going to the options and turning it off but it still annoyed me for the first couple races. With so few tracks and cars that try to add an RPG element to make the game a bit more fun, the game does lack in that essence that makes you want to keep playing after half the game.
Other modes in the game include an arcade mode which you can do time trials and try to perfect your time on the varied courses. An online mode that allows you can race against friends and other people. This game was surprisingly entertaining for someone who isn’t huge on racers. I can however seeing racing enthusiasts having a problem with it. I would still recommend it for the people who are looking for a cheap fun racing game. The game is out now for the XBLA and PSN for $9.99 or 800 MsPoints.
Review by: Jeremy Kratka