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PSP  header logo

ATV Offroad Fury Pro

For: PSP

Stuck in the mud?

Product: ATV Offroad Fury Pro | Developer: Climax | Publisher: Sony Europe | Format: PSP | Genre: Racing, Simulation, Sports | Players: 1-4 | Version: Europe
 
ATV Offroad Fury Pro PSP, thumbnail 1
Sorry, but it's really difficult to introduce an offroad racing game without mentioning the names Rik Mayal or Ozzy Osbourne, both of whom have taken embarrassing tumbles from quad bikes. Does this suggest the sport is inherently exciting and hazardous or that males at the back end of their mid-life crisis should stick to the leather trousers and two-seater sports cars? Probably the latter.

Climax's ATV games are now established as a pretty good brand though; the games have always received decent reviews but never glowing ones. And not to put too fine a point on it, this latest iteration is in exactly the same category. It's okay, but no more.

And we'll tell you exactly why: the handling. While ATV Offroad Pro sports some impressive depth in terms of options, unlockables, online modes and championships the handling lacks the earthy grunt and robustness that makes offroading so thrilling. If Rik or Ozzy were ever to get on a real bike exhibiting the floaty handling that characterises this title then they'd be off every two minutes.

That's not to say the game is difficult, just a bit flat in terms of the responsiveness you'd expect from the respective vehicles. There are over 30 to choose from, including motocross bikes, buggies and trophy trucks, but they give little feedback in terms of handling sensation. It's the equivalent of trying to ride a bicycle after receiving two dead legs.

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Sure, they all hit the bumps and ramps with abandon, powerslide into corners, and spill your rider if you're too aggressive but it's all too loose and samey. And it's the samey part that really begins to spoil what would otherwise be a top-notch game. No matter how many bits and bobs you upgrade and attach to your vehicle the performance never really seems to alter much.

And then there's the cheating AI. To be fair, practically every racing title for the last twenty years had included 'catch up' – a state of affairs where no matter how much time you clip off your fastest lap your rivals remain just behind. Presumably in a bid to make every race 'exciting'.

This is not just true for the first few championships but all through the game. You happily jockey for position on every lap secure in the knowledge that even if you crash the cheating AI will allow you to catch up (because it works the other way round too) so long as you're half competent. But ATV Offroad Fury Pro begins to drag around about your third hour in. The sinking feeling that so long as you don't make too many mistakes you'll win results in a bland experience. And that's the kiss of mediocrity for any decent racing game.

The good news is that if you don't mind the manipulative AI – or are taken in by it – then there are tonnes of options and features to keep you entertained. Our favourite is the track editor, which is a nifty bit of kit allowing you to build relatively expansive tracks by placing features on a grid. While it doesn't allow you to exactly landscape with complete freedom the combinations are pleasing and designing courses is fun in its own right.

There are also plenty of unlockables in the form of cards that you win after races. These can be collected and will open up an array of extra automotive parts and gear. As we've mentioned before though, it's a little disappointing that upgrading the vehicles has a smaller impact than we'd want and expect.

Visually too, there's just something lacking. Perhaps it's the uniform 'brown-ness' of every track but it feels too much like a first generation PSP title rather than a modern one. Sure, we realise most offroading is a muddy experience but more effort could have gone into trackside scenery, more interesting landscapes and the rival riders and vehicles.

In terms of raw options and races there's certainly plenty of game here. There are 64 tracks altogether and over 30 vehicles. Sponsorship dealing also adds depth in terms of maximising your point scoring - yet the fiddly and badly presented e-mail system lets this side of things down. In order to check your sponsor offers you have to keep going into an e-mail menu and scrolling down to open countless envelope icons. Frankly the e-mails are incredibly boring, repetitive and it all ends up feeling like the game is spamming you. We get enough e-mails about penis enlargement pills already, thank you so much.

Ultimately ATV Offroad Fury Pro will entertain the casual race fan for a good few hours but anyone looking for a bit more of a challenge is going to find it all a bit bump and grind rather than thrills and spills. It's not hardcore enough to impress petrol heads but if you're looking for something diverting for short bus journeys it might just fill a spot.

One thing's for sure, Ozzy and Rik would find it far too tame.
 
ATV Offroad Fury Pro
Reviewer photo
Mark Walbank | 16 July 2008
Brown and benign, ATV Pro may have a lot of deep mud but its fails to grip over the long term
 
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