Attention all dirt-junkies: the wait is over. Sony and Climax have finally unleashed the latest game in their ATV series, ATV Offroad Fury 4, and while the series seems to be slowly exhausting itself (seriously, how many times can you milk such a concept?) this newest entry into the series provides enough content to please diehards and newbies alike.
In addition to loading the game with several gameplay options, such as single event races, championship races, and a new career mode, the dirt gods have also given us over thirty different vehicles to race with. Branching out from ATVs, we're tossed into dirt buggies, trucks and motocross bikes, amongst others. And while the overall handling for each unique vehicle is solid, some work better than others.
But the real star of the game is the ATV, as should be expected, and once you really get into the swing of things and anticipate another round of ass-kicking goodness, your mojo is drained when you're forced to switch vehicles.
Speaking of draining mojo, the non-playable racers have a habit of rubbing you the wrong way. When they're not landing on top of you or pushing you into a bale of hay, they somehow manage to sneak up on you at the last possible second and leave you in their dust.
But these are minor quibbles. Overall, the game works brilliantly, and the other racers do manage to stay out of your way most of the time (with an emphasis on most ).
Major credit has to be given to the track designs, which are always innovative and never boring. The crew over at Climax really outdid themselves when it came to designing and laying out the tracks. While a few do offer your basic, boring 'round and 'round design, most sport sharp turns, sweet jumps and enough shoulder-hazards to keep you gripping the controller, sitting on the edge of your seat and playing round after round.
And with beautiful, crisp graphics (some of the tracks look amazing, considering that this is current gen hardware) the sense of speed and danger is always prevalent.
Offroad Fury 4 is simply a solid racing game that offers up enough varied styles of racing to keep you coming back for more, and with the inclusion of several gameplay modes, the replay value gets upped tenfold. Chief among them is the new career mode. Casting you as an up and coming rookie, the game charts your progress from wet-behind-the-ears slacker to race-track-god.
Beginning with a lengthy cut scene introducing you to your character and his (or her) rivals, the story mode throws you into race after race, allowing you to snag sponsors, make cash and customize your ride. Unfortunately, the story mode turns out to be a dud. It may start strong with fun and well-produced cut scenes, the story dies out pretty quickly, leaving you to devour the long and varied amateur races before offering up more story. In the end, the career mode is nothing more than a slight variation on the racing experience.
If the career mode isn't your cup of tea, you can concentrate on championship races without the occasional cut scene, participate in single races, or go head to head with buddies and strangers online. Competing in head to head action or tournament races, the multiplayer mode is THE reason you will come back to this game time and again. Once you beat, or get beaten by, smack talking cats like yourself, you’ll find that racing against computer-controlled characters is simply no longer any fun.
Track editor is another fun mode that allows you to build the craziest racetracks you can think of and if you own ATV Offroad Fury Pro for the PSP, you can upload and download tracks you've built onto that system. By connecting your PSP to your PS2, you can also exchange and upgrade vehicles, and access chat rooms and newsgroups, giving you plenty to do with both systems and both games. (If you do own both games, it's worth giving it a try simply to see what your PS2 track looks like on the PSP; there’s a certain odd, awe-inspiring factor to the whole switcharoo.)
There's simply so much to see and do here that you'll keep coming back. The only question that remains is, with four games in this series and countless other similar titles, how much longer can this engine be revved? Still, by offering up plenty of vehicles, racing styles and gameplay modes, ATV Offroad Fury 4 is a solid racing experience.