REVIEW: Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad
Jeremy McGrath returns once more to the world of video games with the aptly titled Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad. This downloadable title has quite a few things to offer up for its 10 dollar price point. With five vehicles classes, six tracks, a career mode, and even multiplayer for up to 8 people on its surface it’s a well rounded downloadable game. Sure it doesn’t have nearly the amount of content as a full retail game, but it does make for an adequate romp through the mud for a few hours.
I was surprised to see that this game forgoes a serious approach to racing and instead offers up a much more arcade like experience. The tracks themselves feature bright locals and vary from middle of the country farmlands, the ice cold landscape of the Netherlands, to the hot tropical jungles of Ecuador. Just like in arcade racers of the early 90s the tracks have numerous things happening in the background from airplanes buzzing directly over you nearly missing you, to the occasional avalanche capable of knocking you completely off the track. I was even attacked by a runaway combine tractor at one point!
The gameplay itself is also very arcade like, while the game offers different vehicle classes each with their own setups to pick from and the ability to upgrade them, they all seem to feel loose and fast on the track. Even as you gain XP from each event and use that XP to upgrade your vehicles the changes were so subtle that I would almost say they made no difference at all. One really annoying fact was that when it comes to spending your XP on a vehicle the process seems to follow the paintjob not the car itself. If that sounds confusing that’s because it is. For example if you are using the buggy class and spend XP on the Monster Energy livery buggy and decide the Lincoln Welders one looks cooler even though it’s the same car with a different paintjob, you will find that the XP spent stays with the previous Monster Energy livery. The good news is gaining XP is rather easy as almost everything you do on the track, like passing opponents and making clean laps and such count for it. Also everything you do off the track, like catching air or taking out signs and even fences along the track edges count too. However, as I mentioned before I wasn’t able to notice any real difference in the upgrades that I put on my vehicles. By the middle point of my career I simply stopped spending my XP as I felt it just wasn’t necessary. No matter which vehicle I picked or setup I selected they all felt pretty much the same. I was able to power slide and pass my way into 1st place each race with ease.
There is no mini map in the game; instead all of your approaching turns are called out in a rally inspired manor by your navigator. This is helpful since taking your eyes off the track even for just a moment will often see you in bushes. One of best aspects of this game is the sense of speed and air you get when making jumps. With some of the later more powerful vehicles you are capable of catching some really nice air time! It’s essential to try to keep your pitch just right so that you land evenly when hitting the ground. If you don’t you might find that you land face first sending your truck toppling head over heels. While there is no damage or any real repercussion from this, it’s a bit annoying and can sometimes lead to your opponents passing you.
The real downside to the game is that fact that it is rather short. I was able to finish the entire campaign in less than 2 hours. With 23 events across 6 tracks you will find the same tracks being raced on in the same pattern over and over again with a different vehicle each time. The graphics leave a lot to be desired as well. While the tracks and background looks more than adequate enough it’s the vehicles ironically that lack real detail. When using the cockpit view the front of your vehicle appears very outdated, it’s a small issue really and is easily fixed by picking a different camera angle but stood out enough that I felt it needed to be mentioned.
The Summary: While Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad doesn’t offer up the experience of a full retail title it certainly makes for a nice little romp through the mud if you are looking for one. It’s a fun enough offroad arcade racer however its lack of tracks across the career mode will have you falling asleep at the wheel by the end of the short single player portion of the game. Its arcade like physics and gameplay are fun at first but lose some of their charm near the end. At its price point of 10 dollars however, hardcore arcade racing fans will enjoy this but the casual gamer might feel otherwise.