ATV Offroad Fury Pro is the second game in the series for the PlayStation Portable, developed by Climax Racing and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the successor of ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin’ Trails. The game was released on October 26, 2006 in North America (just five days before ATV Offroad Fury 4 on the PlayStation 2), in Europe on June 20, 2008, and in Australia six days later.
ATV Offroad Fury Pro offers the same vehicles as ATV Offroad Fury 4, but with extra race tracks, vehicles and mini-games. It features both ad hoc (local area network) or Infrastructure (web) multiplayer modes. It offers tutorials in order to master the Trophy Trucks and Dune Buggies. A tutorial mode exists to help players master tricks. The MX Motocross has the same tricks as the ATVs. The championship modes offer stunt challenges, mini-games and races.The game also includes a completely new class of vehicles as Snowmobiles which are exclusive to this game.
With ATV Offroad Fury Pro, Sony Computer Entertainment and Climax Studios’ four-wheeled racer takes its second starting line position on the PSP. Well, four-wheeled isn’t exactly an appropriate descriptor anymore as the series’ available vehicle list has been expanded greatly with the addition of MX bikes, buggies, rally cars and snowmobiles. With more race types, a much better technical presentation and bumps to pretty much every other aspect of the game, the series’ second installment on the PSP is a great improvement over the first.
Being as it ties in not only to the game’s visuals but handling and physics systems as well, we’ll start with the technical aspects. ATV Offroad Fury Pro looks and performs leaps and bounds better than Blazin’ Trails and actually approaches what you’ll see on the PS2 from the series. The draw distance is damn good (though there’s still pop-in now and then) and the game runs quite smoothly for the most part, though every once in a while you’ll see a rare hitch in framerate. Foliage and bits of outdoorsy detail line the tracks, which themselves are rendered with smooth arcs and subtle undulations that keep Mother Nature looking young. Texture detail is pretty good, but, given the game’s size and limited amount of RAM on the system, can be a little blurry at times. Still though, this is a great looking game.
Offroad Fury Pro’s technical prowess goes hand-and-hand with its control system, and this too works quite well. Given the variety of vehicles that are available in the game, it’s not too surprising that none are absolutely stellar, but most all of them handle rather nicely. Bikes turn on a dime and really give you a sense of how light they are, while ATVs feel a fair bit heavier but a little more stable. Rally cars and buggies are quite similar, both having tons of power and able to slide around turns with ease. The main difference between their performance is that rally cars are a fair bit quicker while the buggies feel lighter – other than that, they’re basically the same. The weakest of the bunch are the trucks as they feel sort of “flat”. There isn’t a whole lot of character to their presence on the track, and compared to the rally cars and buggies they’re actually boring to drive.
Track design is generally pretty decent, though for the most part there aren’t really all that many memorable courses. There are plenty of jumps and pretty nice sections to navigate, but there isn’t much to make them stand out on their own. There are a whole slew of tracks to choose from though, so that certainly helps ease the wound.
The computer AI is somewhat lively in its riding style, using the width of the entire track to navigate most of the races. They’ll perform plenty of tricks and are just as susceptible to crashes as you are. Unfortunately, they’re not all that aggressive, generally shying away from the inside of turns. This gives you a major advantage in that cutting a turn sharply can net you a second or so gain each time you do it. On the flip side, they’re usually very well versed in track layout and seem quite good at knowing how hard or high to hit a jump. While you go through the growing pains of learning each of the game’s numerous tracks, hitting jumps too short or long and winding up landing in a less than ideal manner, the computer will nail them most every time.
As is the case with other off-road racing games of late, you’re not simply tied to MX bikes and ATVs in Offroad Fury Pro; you’ll also be turning laps in dune buggies and sturdy Trophy Trucks. Each vehicle category features numerous models to choose from, and each model has unique handling thanks to differing horsepowers and cornering abilities. In addition, new vehicle classes are available–such as snowmobiles and rally cars–which are tied to the new events found in the game.
While the driving model in Offroad Fury Pro certainly isn’t bad–the gravity-defying leaps and responsive controls remain just as fun as they were in the previous game–it isn’t sophisticated enough to convey drastic differences between vehicles in the same class, such as a rally car and a truck or an ATV and a snowmobile. Only the MX bike, with its hyperresponsive cornering, feels remarkably different from practically any other vehicle in the game. Another quirk of the gameplay is the unbalanced nature of the trick point system. On either the MX or ATV bikes, earning points requires you to perform midair tricks using a variety of button combinations. Conversely, when driving a truck or buggy, you’ll rack up points simply for hitting jumps or sliding through turns. As a result, you typically earn far more points in a heavy vehicle than you do on a light-class vehicle, which makes freestyle events (trick-based challenges only open to the MX and ATVs) more frustrating than they should be.
If you can get past the straightforward nature of the driving, you’ll find a game that is absolutely loaded with different race types. Events include the standard supercross, rallycross, national, freestyle, and circuit events; as well as more unusual events such as the endurocross, rally, and snowcross races. In some cases, events can be run by more than one class. For example, to fully complete the nationals events in championship mode, you’ll need to run it four times, once for each default vehicle type available in the game. Completing race events will earn you credits and unlock new race events in the game’s championship mode. Using these earned credits, you can upgrade your vehicle with new parts for practically every aspect of your ride; brakes, clutches, engine internals, and exhausts, as well as a number of cosmetic additions such as new spotlights or wheels, are just a few examples. Just as differentiating the feel of the various vehicles is tough, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice a massive difference between how your ATV handles on default settings compared to how it feels with every upgrade available installed. The most telling detail, then, is how easily you are keeping up with (or beating) your artificially intelligent opponents.
Your on-track foes are distinguished mainly by their refusal to give even an inch at any time on the track. While you really shouldn’t have any trouble beating any race event in the game (provided you’ve kept up with your upgrades), you quickly learn to stay out of the way of your opponents, as you’ll usually come out on the losing end of any collision. For example, should you get T-boned in a corner by a competitor, the opposing car will make zero effort to remove itself from you. Instead, it will be up to you to untangle yourself, usually losing valuable seconds in the process. The game’s rubber-banding can be a pain, too; there will rarely be a moment in the game when you don’t have an opponent barreling down your tailpipe, no matter how perfect a lap you drive.
Another wrinkle to the gameplay system is the various sponsors you can earn in the game. As you perform well in race events, you’ll attract the attention of various sponsors as you go. If you choose to sign a sponsor to your team, you can earn items like prototype parts for your vehicle or cash bonuses for placing high in a race. Conversely, some sponsors will penalize you for not living up to your end of the bargain (that is, coming in last place), so you’ll want to weigh your sponsorships carefully.
If the massive single-player championship mode isn’t enough for you, there’s always multiplayer racing to keep you occupied, both via infrastructure and ad hoc. So far, the game hasn’t exactly enjoyed a glut of online participants to race against, but should you manage to find enough folks to compete with, you’ll enjoy competition against live opponents with smooth, lag-free performance the entire time. The developers at Climax threw practically everything they could think of into Offroad Fury Pro’s online play. Though you can only race against three other racers online, the game lets you create race, freestyle, and minigame events; run championships in any series found in the game; and even compete on tracks created in the game’s easy-to-use track editor. With community features such as bulletin boards (for both PSP and PS2 players), buddy lists, and, eventually, downloads, the online component of Offroad Fury Pro is impressive. Here’s hoping the population grows enough to take proper advantage of it.
There is little to complain about, or laud praise upon, in ATV Offroad Fury Pro’s graphics. The vehicles are scaled-down versions of the same models used in the PS2 ATV Offroad Fury games, and the trick animations are identical, as well. For the most part, the environments themselves look fine, though you’ll notice frequent draw-in of some roadside objects, as well as the occasional curious warping of some of the track textures. It isn’t enough to screw you up while racing; it’s just odd to see. The vehicles kick up a cloud of dust or mud behind them, but unlike in ATV Offroad Fury 4 for the PS2, your ride won’t accumulate dirt as you go. Frame-rate problems are few and far between and never last long enough to be of major concern. The sound in the game is defined by the decent variety of engines found across all the different vehicle types found in the game. Some sounded a bit too “buzzy” for our tastes (such as the MX and ATVs), but the larger vehicles were appropriately beefy. Your enjoyment of the game’s soundtrack will depend upon your tolerance of angry rock and up-tempo hip-hop tunes that compose the track list. Finally, despite a wealth of content in the game, the menu presentation does a good job of keeping everything organized.
Though ATV Offroad Fury Pro features a ton of content, the game feels largely the same as previous efforts. If you are new to the series, you’ll enjoy much of what’s available in Offroad Fury Pro. If you have played these games before, however, you’ll likely feel as if you’ve already been down this road. Only this time, the trip is longer and there is more to do along the way.
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