STAFF REVIEW of Jeremy McGrath's Offroad (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Friday, July 27, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Jeremy McGrath's Offroad Box art In the world of off road racing on the Xbox 360, there are few games that standout as iconic staples that produce years of success, and days and months of enjoyment. Retail games such as DIRT aim to provide the most realistic off road experience and have worked hard to do so. Now though, there's a new driver in town from 2XL Games and they decided their game should be a downloadable arcade title instead of a retail release, and on top of that, 2XL Games decided to slap on the name of a racing legend, Jeremy McGrath. So is this new game for the Xbox Live Arcade, Jeremy McGrath's Offroad, worth the 800 MS point price? Well let?s start our engines, buckle up, and see what highs and lows befall this latest off road racer.

Now throughout this review I will be throwing in actual quotes from the official "review guide" given to reviewers of this game. You may ask yourself, "why would I do that?? well you're about to find out. Going into the game I was excited as I enjoy off road racing games (secretly I'm a huge F1 and WRC fan) and the more I progressed through this game, the more I wanted to stop, and let me explain why. In normal off road retail games they provide a vast selection of tracks and areas to race on, and in Jeremy McGrath's Offroad, you don't even get a handful of tracks. This tends to make the entire weight of the game fall squarely on the shoulders of these limited tracks and it may just be a bit too much. Throughout these limited tracks you'll find yourself racing through desert terrain, jungle forests, snow covered mountain paths, and a bit more, but what the game does is break up the same few tracks into different segments thus trying to make it feel like you're racing in more than one track in the same region. Now this works up to a point because after constantly covering familiar ground you start to become very bored with the game, and that?s not something that bodes well for this off road racer.

There is another problem though with the racing environments. The "Official Review Guide" for this game says: "Environmental obstacles, such as breakable fences, falling trees, massive rock slides and more, you?ll have to be quick with your thumbs to avoid disaster on the tracks." The problem with this statement is that all these obstacles do absolutely nothing to destroy or ruin your race; instead they just simply slow you down from say 95, to 90. This is where another big problem lies within the game for you would think that hitting a boulder the size of a small house would be the defining moment of a bad day, but instead you can actually push this said boulder. Oh I have to mention that all of this damage does nothing to your vehicle in terms of affecting handling and overall performance. So I ask you dear reader, what is the point of trying to stay clear of these obstacles? Just put your foot down, power to the max, and since nothing is affected negatively outside of speed, fly into it without any regard to your own safety. Oh and it gets better.

According to the "Official Review Guide" it states: "More than just an arcade racer, Jeremy McGrath?s Offroad features some deep RPG elements as well with four categories of vehicular upgrades and an experience-based leveling system. Take names on the course to improve your rig to fit your exact needs and driving style!" I'm sorry to burst your bubble dear readers, but saying that this game has "deep RPG elements" is like trying to lose weight by being of a diet of only McDonalds. The upgrade system involves you earning XP by performing various tasks such as passing, clean laps, big jumps, high speed overtakes, 1st place laps, and more. Then you take your newly acquired XP into the garage and upgrade your stats such as handling, top speed, acceleration, and braking (this one is pointless in my opinion because proper throttle control is all you need, and in most cases you can just keep your foot pinned to the floor constantly). If by upgrading statistics makes your game have "deep RPG elements" then by that standard 98% of all games provide that too, so there's nothing really special in saying "hey we're doing something that everyone else already does." That?s like saying "Hey look at us, we have a title screen!"

That?s not to say however, that Jeremy McGrath's Offroad is a complete failure. The racer does look beautiful and the courses themselves are done to pristine condition. Waterfalls, foliage, sun sets, and more look breathtakingly gorgeous and incredibly smooth when it's running at 60fps. Your eyes will enjoy all the scenery as you blast around corners at 100+ mph and launch over crests that will send your car flying hundreds of feet through the air. While the graphics of this arcade racer feel stunning, the audio does not. The load times are fairly long, but the most annoying part of the game's audio is in fact McGrath himself. Have you ever stopped to notice loading screens before on various games? Most of the time we are inundated with text that provides tips, hints, and various other messages on how to perform better in the game. Jeremy McGrath's Offroad is no different, except for the fact that that the messages are only a few that gets recycled quite often, and the fact that they are spoken to you. So now you're waiting through this load screen and you'll hear roughly 4 audio messages BEFORE EVERY RACE. Here's the last thing that stood out for me. On the "Official Review Guide" it states as one of its key features: "Name Recognition: Featuring arguably the sport?s most well-known champion, Jeremy McGrath?s Offroad is the definitive offroad title and the only game featuring seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath." Let me tell you that it took every ounce of strength I had not to put on my headphones and listen to music instead of Jeremy McGrath constantly talking and repeating all five text messages on the loading screens.

So let?s recap what we've got so far. We have a racer that looks beautiful on the outside, but inside is littered with pointless mechanics, fabrications of dangers that haunt your cars, imaginary RPG elements, and a lack luster feel for what an off road game should be. There are plenty of other games that offer you a tremendous off road experience, and unfortunately Jeremy McGrath's Offroad isn't one of them. If you're really looking for great off road racing games, pick up a copy of either: Dirt, Dirt 2, Dirt 3, or scrap the cars and go for quads in Pure. Any of these games I just mentioned provide a better off road experience than this 800 MS point hole in your wallet. If you're a fan of off road racing, pick this game up if it's under 600 MS points, but it makes about as much sense to pick up Jeremy McGrath's Offroad for 800 MS points, as it does trying to skydive without a parachute.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10


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