- It’s not too expensive
- Doesn’t look bad
- Awful collision detection
- Doesn’t feel like an off-road racing game
- No damage model
- The whole package just feels boring
Make no mistake about it, Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad wants to be DiRT. Even the title alone rings synonymously close to that of Colin McRae’s brilliant racing series, and that’s before we even delve into the game itself. And to an extent, it is actually a lot like DiRT. If you remove the brilliant handling, interesting events, addictive multiplayer and just about everything else that makes Codies’ racer what it is, then you’ve got Offroad.
It’s a budget racer with budget gameplay to match. The Career has 23 races which last a maximum of two to three hours, which cover five different vehicle types that feel as though they’ve been cloned with different models. While a short career isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s the fact that it has nothing to make you want to play again that’s the issue. There are no online leaderboards with best lap times, and the only online feature is an 8-player multiplayer which is about as much fun as it is learning the periodic table while stood in a queue in Tesco.
The real problem is that it just feels very boring to play. Vehicles don’t possess any sense of speed or power, and the impact from crashing could be faithfully recreated by smashing two custard puddings together. There’s no damage model so vehicles stay shiny no matter what, and hammering into a rival at a hairpin results in a little tinny tap.
It never feels like an off-road racing game. Even the Rally vehicles themselves barely drift around in the dirt like they should be doing, and you’re more or less constantly glued to the track. On the odd occasion where you take a wrong turn you’re kept on by some kind of invisible shield that sits just behind the scenery, and that’s before I even mention the ridiculous flips that occur from big jumps when you don’t orientate your car correctly. The first time it happened to me I expected to crash land in the Whomping Willow, we’re talking levitation and around six spins for the tiniest of skewed landings.
The track design doesn’t fare much better either. There are just six on offer, with the longest one clocking in at around 3 minutes long. To be fair they don’t look terrible for a download title, there’s nothing distinctly wrong with them, and they’re supported by a framerate that’s consistently smooth. But like the gameplay, they’re dull. Environmental “hazards” are few and forced (for example, rocks fall on you at the same point on one track on every single lap), and they’re just too predictable and easy to navigate.
It’s all underpinned by an XP system that makes no sense. 1000XP allows you to upgrade one attribute by one point, which sounds fair enough. What makes no sense at all however, is how the XP is earned. Apparently crashing through a sign once is as good as winning a race, and smashing a fence down is worth five clean laps. There’s no consistency with the system, and the upgrades don’t feel like they make enough of an impact to even matter a great deal.
The saying that you get what you pay for rings true with Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad. For a little over eight quid you get a racer with its fair share of bugs, limited content and lacklustre gameplay that’s presented to a reasonable standard. You can pick up any DiRT game you like for cheaper than the asking price, and what’s more they’re actually fun to play. As it stands Offroad is a dull, lifeless racer that lacks any kind of personality and one that’s extremely hard to recommend.