Sitting down with a simplistic racing title was always entertaining in a nostalgic way. But as time progressed, basic nostalgia took a back seat to other innovative features, and many entries not from the Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport series were simply labeled “other” within the racing genre.
Jeremy McGrath’s offroad falls under the latter, basically making it another friendly neighborhood racing game. Now this doesn’t mean it’s flawed or broken – you just won't jump up and down with joy over the new (car) game smell, or likely return for any longer than a couple of hours.
You’re initially greeted by Jeremy McGrath himself, who shoots out winning statements like “This is Jeremy McGrath, let’s get ready to race some offroad” to make your experience seem cooler (spoiler: it doesn’t help). Aside from his initial appearance, McGrath pops up with obvious hints throughout the game. In addition to these hints, there’s even a voice describing approaching curve types as you drive. Luckily, if you’re not fond of McGrath’s pro-tips or the chatterbox of a co-driver, both can be disabled in the options menu. The only real flaw in the sound department is having no music on the track, which is a shame since it's nice to have generic tunes while you race.
You’re offered three AI difficulty options to improve your gathered experience rate, but increasing them only seems to enhance the speed and acceleration of every other racer. Even in a higher setting, your competitors don’t seem any more aggressive, and are basically exploitable moving obstacles. Of course, Jeremy McGrath’s AI is probably the hardest to pass, and almost always winds up in second if you win (or first if you don’t).
Overall there are five vehicles and eight different patterns to play with. If you start with an arcade race, you’re given one vehicle – the dinky sportsman buggy – to select from until you unlock others in career mode. As you progress through the campaign, you’ll collect vehicle upgrade experience by ranking higher, passing other opponents, and wrecking some farmer’s fence. Though visuals are rather impressive at first sight, playing through the same exact maps – there are six of them – in the career mode becomes dull. It is, however, entertaining to see how you handle courses after changing vehicles, as you may have to adjust your general setup (a simplistic option promoted before each race) and reprioritize your upgrading options.
The only true replay experience in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is in the form of basic repetition, which involves either scoring higher on a ranked leaderboard or milking every last achievement. Most achievements are simply awarded by playing through the entire career mode, and the last simply requires you drive a combined total of 1,000 miles in the game. One particular achievement may actually be unobtainable to some, as it requires you win your very first race – arcade or otherwise -- when booting up the game.
Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is no Gran Turismo or Forza, but it’s a game that works. The general control scheme is no different from most other racing games, and wonky camera issues are rare (and easily fixed). 2XL wasn’t looking to reinvent the genre with a $10 price tag, and it’s quite clear within the first few minutes of the game. Regardless, off-road racing fans can still have a blast without feeling they invested in an overpriced nightmare.
Three.Five out of Five Hadokens