This is a first for us here at DailyJoypad, our very first iPhone/iPod game review. And what better way to start than with 2XL’s ATV OffRoad? Gaming on a handheld device like an iPhone or iPod can often be a tough thing to get right for many designers and developers. This is due to the pick-up and put-down nature on these types of platforms. So a rather hardcore off-road racing game, which is also priced highly for an App Store title at £4.99, was always going to be a gamble for the team at 2XL. But is it one that paid off and should you be downloading this to your iPod or iPhone? Read on to find out…
ATV OffRoad is the follow up to 2XL Supercross, also available on the App Store, which is a great iPhone/Pod game but did come with a few ever so slight issues. But 2XL have listened to the feedback, taken that on board, and designed a game that takes the best of Supercross and then added a host of new features. These include some cool tracks, an impressive carer mode, and multiplayer racing to name but a few. As well as racing on the standard Supercross tracks there are outdoor National tracks, and Freestyle arenas to whizz about and pull some huge air.
All of the racing environments look stunning, even more so when it comes to the outdoor courses. With the amount going on on-screen I would of expected a slight drop in frame rate at times, but the game never shudders or trips over. Mud and dust is kicked up by your fellow racers, both riders and quads react to the terrain, and a draw distance that seems to go on forever makes the game look more like a full-priced PSP title than a simple App Store game.
The carer mode spans a set of eleven leagues, with each league featuring a number of events and tracks. Do well enough in each league and you can move onto the next one. The carer mode is deep and certainly a challenge around about the halfway point. But beware, when you do master a league it will certainly make you let out an audible whoop noise, something that will get you some rather strange looks when playing on the bus or train. During each race if you pull off skillful maneuvers or some impressive stunts you will get awarded with an achievement, this becomes stupidly addictive and keeps you coming back for more and more. Although the game does get pretty tough, and you will have to replay certain leagues a couple of times, the game never becomes frustrating. It only makes for an experience that will have you wanting to play it again and again.
For those that just want a quick race you can dive into the Arcade mode. This allows you to choose any of the available tracks and either play alone or over a Wi-Fi connection in multiplayer. After getting to grips with the game I decided to jump into a bit of multiplayer mayhem, again not expecting that much. However ATV OffRoad performs better online than many full retail priced titles do, and also includes online leaderboards for those that like to see their name in lights. Over a Wi-Fi connection each of the games I played was smooth, simple to get into, and lag free.
I found the Freestyle mode to be the most addictive and the one I continue to play with the attempt to improve my score. These are played out in huge bowl like areas, which again look visually jaw dropping. The basic idea is to tear about the area, performing stunts and tricks to earn points, which in turn will earn you medals ranging from bronze to gold. The most impressive part of ATV OffRoad however is the physics engine, which uses a fine balance between realism and heightened physics. The quads feel weighty yet also light enough to through around, skidding around in the dust and dirt also feels spot on and not floaty or to arcadey like many racing games on handhelds.
ATV OffRoad uses the accelerometer tilt control to steer the vehicle, however there is an on-screen left and right control for those that prefer it. I only found that out after playing the game for many hours since the thought of having a directional control option never even entered my mind. This is evidence on just how well 2XL have tuned the tilt controls of the game to make for a better overall experience. Acceleration is handheld buy two decent sized buttons on the bottom right corner of the screen which are comfortable to use and non-intrusive. A number of views can also be selected by tapping the small camera icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
Obviously while tearing about the track on your ATV you will want to pull off some stylish stunts, after all it’s not only about racing but looking good too! Simply tapping the spring icon in the bottom left corner of the screen will cause your rider to compress the suspension on the ATV, which will lead to more air. Once in the air you simply tilt or flick the iPhone/Pod in a chosen direction, or tap one of the tabs on the right side of the screen to pull off a crazy trick. It all works very well and is a total joy to use.
Overall ATV OffRoad is one of the best handheld racing games I have ever played, and that includes the DS and PSP too! It may be high priced for an App Store title but when you take into account at just how complete a package the game is then it no longer seems so. In all honesty, 2XL could of released ATV OffRoad on PSP and charged in access of £20 for it. If you’re a fan of racing games and own an iPhone or iPod you seriously need to grab this on the App Store. It has tons of replay value, great visuals, solid and chunky sound effects, stunning physics, and quality multiplayer. If you have just a passing interest in racing, then ATV OffRoad will still offer many fun hours of gaming with the Arcade mode. This proves that the iPhone/Pod is certainly a contender when it comes to handheld gaming!