[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”2XL Games” publishers=”D3Publisher” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”June 27, 2012″]
For many there is nothing like the smell of dirt and exhaust mixed with the sound of a revving engine drifting around a hard right kicking up a dust storm. Offroad racing has a huge piece of the subculture of the racing scene. Races are decided as God intended, on Mother Earth. There is no asphalt. There is no concrete. There is just good old earth with all the dips and bumps we know and love. 2XL Games brings us Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad to Xbox Live Arcade. It is strange that they have Jeremy McGrath, a Supercross star, manning their offroad racing title. It would be similar to having Michael Jordan’s Golf Classic game. Strange frontman aside, can Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad bring us the racing experience or are we stuck with a game about as fun as a pile of dirt?
Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is all about the four wheel style of racing despite the title man’s claim to fame being of the 2 wheel variety. You will be driving Trophy Trucks, Rally Cars, Sportsman Buggies, Prolite Trucks, and Pro Buggies not that there is much of a difference in the vehicles themselves other than speed, acceleration, and how they take a turn. All of the vehicles handle on the track the same even where there would be obvious differences. There are a couple different vehicles for each type but they all seem to only be reskins of each other.
The scant offerings are not limited to vehicles. Career mode is limited to 23 different races with only six different tracks. The environments range from dirt and mud to snow. The tracks are designed well with a nice range in difficulty of turns and length. The tracks actually look great too, something one might not expect from an XBLA. There are 3 different difficulties that affect the aggressiveness of the AI and the percentage of experience gained.
The 23 races are split up among the different classes of vehicle which leads to a rather annoying design issue in regards to upgrades. As you race, you get experience for doing racing type things like passing, winning, clean laps, and drifting. You gain upgrade points from the experience and you apply it to the vehicles four different stats; Handling, Top Speed, Acceleration, and Braking. The problem is that due to the low number of races split among five different types of vehicles, you end up switching vehicles every 4 or so races and lose the upgrades you put into the lower tiered vehicles.
Outside of career mode, there is also arcade mode that has local multiplayer, exhibition, and time trial races. Online multiplayer is also available for up to 8 racers and has the usual mix of options. The controls are tight and arcadey with all of the expected buttons for a racer. The controls create a low skill entry point that the more sim like big brother games don’t have. The low number of vehicles and tracks really make the game feel barebones. With a completion time around two hours, Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is a bite sized portion of a retail title.