ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails
Looking for some high-flying ATV action? The PSP launch has you covered, but how well does it play? Full review here!
Sony and Climax Studios are kicking up mud and boring me to tears with ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails for the PSP. Essentially a collection of the same old stuff we've been playing on the PS2 for the last few years, Blazin' Trails fails to tantalize the senses but rather frays the nerves with a sloppy frame rate and awkward controls. If you're willing to make a few concessions you'll take some enjoyment from this extreme racing title, but with several higher quality games on the shelf, it's recommended that you pass up this lackluster title.
If you've played any of the previous ATV games then you already know the drill, as Blazin' Trails feels very similar to its PS2 counterparts. You'll select whether you want a male of female rider (or another odd character), and then choose from over 20 ATVs, all of which can be customizable to a degree. Then you hit one of over 30 courses that feature a bevy of different road types including mud, snow, and grass.
There are a host of different events and modes you can check out, including Single Event, Nationals, Enduro, Short Tracks, and Freestyle Events. It's in these modes where the meat of the game lays - brutal competitions where you'll make sharp turns, fly off dirt hills, and perform crazy tricks in mid air. Unfortunately the game stumbles just a bit.
The biggest problem I have with ATV is its frame rate. Other launch titles such as Ridge Racer run at a brisk pace, but Blazin' Trails is sluggish. It doesn't matter as much if it's the first PSP racing game you play, but don't expect to be amazed after popping out your copy of Wipeout Pure and firing up ATV.
Also, it's sometimes difficult pulling off some tricks. Doing the wimpy ones is easy, but when I really needed to bust out a crazy stunt the PSP's buttons turned against me. It feels like Climax just tossed a PS2 ATV onto the PSP with little regard for the differences in controller design. To make matters worse, actually controlling your rider is sometimes annoying. After some practice you may get the hang of things, but there may also be a rather long period where you're swerving all over the place. For me, staying inbounds was a huge challenge. One wrong slip and I flew right past the barrier and lost the race.
After the graphical honeymoon period is over (you know, the oh-my-god-I-can't-believe this-is-on-a-portable-system phase), you'll notice that ATV isn't really that impressive-looking a game when compared to other PSP launch titles. I hate to bring them up again but it's absolutely necessary. If you look at Ridge Racer and Wipeout Pure and then study ATV the difference in quality is very clear. The riders in Blazin' Trails and the graphics in general are a bit pixilated and don't feature as good a sheen as other titles in and outside the genre.
What is cool about ATV is with all its faults it's still fun - to a point. The AI is really competitive, there's a wide selection of ATVs to select from (including the Mohawk Swift Python and the Wolf Trekker), and as you progress in the game you'll earn credits that can be used to purchase new ATVs, parts, and outfits for your rider. Also, the game has multiplayer that's provided by the PSP's Wi-Fi superpowers and it runs very smoothly. Bottom line: if you buy this game you won't be wowed but you won't necessarily have a bad time.
Unfortunately, ATV Blazin' Trails isn't a must buy PSP launch title. That's not to say that you won't have some fun with it because its many game modes/options as well as its online play make it a somewhat enjoyable experience. However, its overall lack of polish keeps it in the junior leagues of videogames, and it somewhat mars Sony's otherwise great PSP launch lineup.
What's Hot: Lots of options and great Wi-Fi play.
What's Not: Not as visually impressive as other titles.