The thing that excited me the most about Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad was the chance to hark back to the days of a wired controller and some good old fashioned off-road racing. It’s true to say that Jeremy McGrath doesn’t have the depth of the Dirt series or the the shiny graphics and physics of Motorstorm but it more than makes up for it with nostalgic accessible fun.
When you first boot up Jeremy McGrath you’re faced with the arcade mode where you can race, time trial or just practice across the different maps you unlock. There’s also career mode which features 23 different races across 5 different vehicle classes. And finally there’s up to 8 player multiplayer via Xbox Live or PSN. It seems on the whole a decent amount of content for the $9.99 (800MSP) price tag.
The game features the vocal talents of Jeremy McGrath but quickly become repetitive when traversing through the menus. It becomes apparent that McGrath hasn’t recorded too many different phrases. It is a nice touch though having McGrath narrate your way through the tracks as it keeps you on your toes to what kind of corners and hazards to expect.
Graphically, McGrath does the job. It isn’t the best game you’ll ever see but it does enough to keep you engaged. As you race across the dirt tracks you’ll see helicopters and planes flying over head and you also have to watch out for different hazards such as boulders dropping down on to the track. Disappointingly most of the hazards often look quite cartoon-y and can distract you from the racing at hand. The maps do get a little bit repetitive with a lot of stock animations re-used but they vary enough to keep you going. You can also customise the skin of your vehicle with a few different paint jobs to chose from but these are pre-set skins as opposed to an in-depth customisation option.
Career mode is fun but limited. You’ll breeze through the career with ease on amateur difficultly. Whilst on Professional you have to work a lot harder. There is a bit of a learning curve to McGrath but once you start to pull off clutch boosts and power slides it’s becomes rather satisfying. As you progress through career mode you unlock new maps and new vehicle classes. Sadly unlike previous McGrath games there are no motorbikes to be seen with developer 2XL Games focusing on McGrath’s newest passion – four wheelers! It means you get to try out Sportsman Buggies, Prolite Trucks, Pro Buggies, Rally Cars and Trophy Trucks. The difference between some of the classes feel fairly subtle but the bonus of been able to do a race against all the classes soon makes it apparent it’s not so straight forward. Across the game you earn XP which you can use to upgrade your vehicles. It’s a really simplistic mechanic, if you earn 1000 XP then you earn an upgrade point which can be used to upgrade handling, top speed, acceleration or braking. The upgrade system is rather redundant for the easier difficulties, if you use a basic upgraded car you’ll finish miles ahead of the opposition but flick it onto a harder difficulty without any upgrades and you’ll struggle. It’s worth noting that you don’t just gain XP for your finishing position, you get it for pulling off different techniques, smashing into signs and more. It means whilst anyone can cross the finish line only the best players will rack up XP.
This has to be one of the most accessible racers I’ve played in a while, I was expecting cheap and shabby controls but to my surprise my vehicles always moved at relative ease and very rarely did I find myself flying off into the verges of the maps. The only real downside is that on a sharp corner the camera can be a little slow to follow you around the corner but it is a forgiveable gripe.
Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is a fun arcade-y racer and is fun enough to warrant a purchase for fans of the genre. McGrath’s doesn’t claim to be anything too flashy but instead delivers an entertaining package at a cheap price. The cheap thrills may not be enough to convince fans of Motorstorm or Dirt it is worthy of their time but the game is addictive enough to keep you coming back for more. McGrath may not be the king of offroad racing but he has done to enough to deserve to be one of the royalty.
|Accessible, Addictive fun||Graphics can be hit and miss, Not much depth to the career mode|
Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is available now on the Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Store priced 800MSP and $9.99 respectively.