Mr. McGrath returns to video games with the appropriately titled Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad. How much can you honestly expect from a ten dollar racer nowadays? How about 6 different locales, 5 different vehicle classes, a career mode and online multiplayer. This title is no retail release, but there is some fast and dirty fun to be had.

The standard modes greet you when firing this title up. You can go Arcade, Career or Online to get your off-road fix. Arcade mode equates to choosing a car and racing ghosts of your previous laps. Career guides you across 23 different races featuring every car class in the game. Multiplayer is online only and features up to 8 players. Racers have the choice of buggies, rally cars or trucks.

Time for some air.

You will travel from Ecuador to the Netherlands and even do a little racing on country farmland. There is an XP system in place across all game modes. Players gain experience for almost anything, including smashing signs, drifting a corner, passing another racer or destroying a fence. XP is used as currency in the game allowing vehicles to be upgraded to increase speed, handling, acceleration and braking. As you progress though Career mode, additional vehicle classes unlock and can be used in Multiplayer and Arcade mode.

All of the tracks are colorful and bright. Environmental hazards, like avalanches, are a neat touch helping to make tracks feel alive. Most debris or objects on-track are static and free of any movement. I do not need the world to sway with the wind, but at least have an animation when my truck runs down half of a forest. Going off course did little to slow my vehicle and even helped to cut a few corners and gain the lead.

We have balls on the track.

This game uses rally style cars, but at the core is an arcade racer. Everything here is about jumping, passing, drifting and all out speed. If you’re looking for the next technical off road racer, look elsewhere. The controls are loose and don’t seem to change much when choosing a different preset, like high speed and loose suspension or great handling and ok speed. I am not saying the game is super easy, but the accessibility will be appreciated by even the most novice racers.

As a virtual racer who likes to use mini maps, the absence of one kinda bummed me out. Instead, you have a monotone co-driver spouting directions as you race. This type of guidance is appreciated in games like Dirt, but here it’s down right annoying. Thank god for the ability to turn Mr. Monotone off. Once the voice was gone, I noticed another issue. There is no music while racing. Listening to the same engine and environment sounds over and over is bland. The menus have decent tunes, so how come the races got the shaft? Again, it’s not a deal breaker but it is worth mentioning.

That must suck.

Going online with this title is fast and furious. No quicker than selecting multiplayer, I was in a lobby about to start. Up came the starting lights and off we went, or should I say they went. Little did I know that only racers with fully upgraded rides went online, or so it seemed. Once I went back into Career and upgraded my ride, then I could compete. Online games are fast and fun with minimal lag.

What is with the crazy crash animations? At the start of a crash the camera pulls back, and vehicles flip wildly, as if someone hit a fast forward button. Following my exaggerated flip, the camera would pan for a few seconds before resetting the vehicle. This setback led to my fellow racers easily expanding their leads. This happened regardless of vehicle, type of collision or track. I appreciate the pitch control when the vehicle is airborne, and this saved my ride more than a few times.

Sorry about the fence.

There is some big air to be had in Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad, and a lot of players are finding it. The game is a fun arcade style racer that anyone can enjoy. Most players will finish this title after a couple of hours. Career mode is short, and beyond that there is not much to keep players coming back. With a $10 price tag, one cannot complain about being entertained for a few hours.

 

Here’s the Rundown:

+Levels and vehicles look good.
+Fun downloadable racer at $10.
+Fast and accessible online play.
-Crash animations are odd and take too long.
-Outside of Career there is not much to bring players back.
-Hardcore racing fans may be put off by the arcade-like controls.
-Co-driver is super annoying.
-No in-game music?

 6 and 6.5 represent a game that doesn’t do anything spectacular or drastically fails to meet the high expectations people had for it. These scores are for games that you would only recommend to diehard fans of the series or genre, something that the average gamer wouldn’t miss very much if he/she skipped it. A game in this range has rental written all over it.

Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad was developed by 2XL Games and published by Reverb Publishing/D3 Publishing for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game is available via PSN and XBLA for $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points. A copy was supplied to RipTen for review purposes.