ATV Offroad Fury
Does Glu's licensed ATV experience live up to the high standards set by SCEA? Our final verdict...
ATV Offroad Fury from Glu Mobile shares more in common with Nintendo's classic Excitebike (albeit with significantly more modern graphics) than the console & PSP ATV Offroad titles from SCEA. As far as I'm concerned that's a big plus, not a negative. The choice to go with a 2D viewpoint keeps the action fast, fluid, and easy to control.
It's the use of distinct racing "lanes" that conjured up the Excitebike memories from my childhood. The lanes can be moved between using the up and down buttons when your ATV is grounded. Forward accelerates, and back brakes. Rounding out the controls are six trick hotkeys (mapped to 1-6 on the keypad). The system works well, and allows the game to be played with one hand, as long as you aren't trying to chain tricks for a high score.
The meat of the game (Classic Mode) houses 30 unique events that must be completed in sequential order, although you can revisit completed races to earn any bonus objectives you missed (more on that in a bit). The primary objective, and the only one that needs to be completed to move on, is to come in first or second out of the field of four. This is my biggest issue with the game, overall. I know it's a little unfair to criticize a racing game for being too focused on, well... racing, but in the case of ATV it sucks out some of the fun factor.
You can technically win the entire game by never pulling off one trick - just come in first place over and over. But actually playing the game that way gets incredibly monotonous. The focus on "preloading" (hitting the jump button at the proper moment before a jump) helps, but I still found myself constantly pulling off tricks that in no way helped me, just to keep the game interesting. There are four side-objectives in each mission, and most are trick-oriented, but the only benefit you receive from completing bonus objectives are a couple more points to upgrade your ATV's stats.
Although it is a little bit of a downer, it isn't a huge issue. Generally, playing a scenario once to win the race and a second time to earn the trick objectives works out fine. I just wish you sometimes had to come in first and earn a certain score, or achieve a certain combo, etc.
The ATV upgrade system is simplistic, but it still works well. You'll unlock more powerful ATVs as you progress, but your own custom souped-up ATV (you can adjust stats in top speed, acceleration, stability, and tires) will probably always be your best option. The upgrades are so subtle that I never saw them at work, but when I replayed the original missions with my end-game, super-powerful ATV, it was hilarious. I had so much speed that I could regularly jump over huge sections of the track. Even small jumps would net me ridiculous (in a good way) air.
ATV Offroad Fury doesn't really have much actually wrong with it. It's super accessible, but still provides a good challenge in the final few events. The courses are varied, and come in several flavors (desert, arena, snow, jungle, etc). It's just a little bit more of a missed opportunity, as opposed to a failed opportunity. ATV fans who pick the game up are likely to get many hours of enjoyment out of title, but here's to hoping we get a sequel to this solid base that includes a little more variation.
What's Hot: Good single player progression. Nice variety of tracks and locations
What's Not: Gameplay can get a little dull. Neutered trick system.