2XL ATV Offroad delivers a first-rate racing experience

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Racer

Racing games tend to appeal to broad audience because of the exhilaration and adrenaline rush that come with them. Developers 2XL Games first introduced us to their visual mastery with 2XL Supercross, a supercharged motorcycle racer. Their latest title 2XL ATV Offroad continues that tradition delivering an ATV racing experience with visual appeal, challenging gameplay, and a ton of depth. Easily considered one of the top two racers for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform alongside Real Racing, 2XL ATV Offroad is well worth a spot on your device.

Visually, the graphics are near PSP quality and further demonstrates the possibilities of the platform. Even if you disagree with the near PSP comparison, 2XL ATV Offroad easily outdistances most other racing games. The different terrains and environments are well rendered with visual depth, and the attention to detail is apparent. You can literally see dust trails from competing bikes or the shadows from dunes and trees, and the animation is smooth although with an occasional lag on my iPod Touch 2g. Animation will be smoother on next generation devices such as the 3GS. While the high energy soundtracks are designed to pump up the experience, about the only shortcoming on this front is the sound effects which are decidedly on the weak side. The revving of engines and cheering crowds tend to be on the low and generic side.

As for depth, 2XL ATV Offroad offers two game modes: Arcade and Career. A local wi-fi multiplayer mode is also available, but I was unable to try that out. Arcade mode is similar to a quick race mode where you can select from among 18 different tracks in 3 categories: FMX, MX, SX. A visual overview is provided for each that you can conveniently scroll through before making a selection.

* FMX
Corona
Ridgecrest

* MX
Seneca
Little Scout
Diablo Pass
Rubicon
Blackhawk
Shadow Ridge
Castlerock
Pine Knob

* SX
Anaheim
Toronto
Daytona
St. Louis
Dallas
Philadelphia
Boston
Pontiac

In addition, there 15 different drivers each uniquely outfitted along with 15 ATVs to choose from. The presentation is rather innovative since the scroll menu allows you to view how riders match with the vehicles.

Within each event, you have several options including 3 levels of difficulty—easy, normal and hard; type of race—Time Trail, Race, and Practice; and number of laps ranging from 3 to 20.

Unlike 2XL Supercross, 2XL ATV Offroad has a career mode which frankly increases the replayability of this game. There are 11 leagues each consisting of multiple races with points awarded based on finish. Mixed in are 2 freestyle levels where stunts can be performed in a limited amount of time for points. RideNow is the only unlocked league start, and finishing in the top 3 will unlock subsequent leagues.

RideNow
MotoWorks
ONeal
Troy Lee Designs
DWT
ProTaper
HMF
Quad
Kicker Car Stereo
TrophyLite
2XL Games

Career Mode also has an extensive achievement system that provides recognition for a number of things including miles driven, races won, tricks performed, and points scored.

In terms of controls, 2XL ATV Offroad offers a good variety of customization. Steering can be controlled either by tilt or virtual steering wheel with red brake and green accelerator buttons. Stunts are performed via a set of six buttons—3 down the left and right sides. Tapping one button will initiate a trick while tapping more than one will initiate more complicated tricks. You also have customizable options such as Auto Throttle, Brake Assist, tilt sensitivity, tilt dead zone and steering sensitivity. In general, I find turning on Auto Throttle (also known as auto-acceleration) to be quite useful since it removes the green accelerator button. The placement of the red brake button and green accelerator button can be a little clunky since the red button sits right above the green one which makes inadvertently tapping the wrong button likely. If you can’t decide on the control set-up, 2XL ATV Offroad includes 8 preset control schemes so there’s bound to be one that works.

2XL ATV Offroad can be quite challenging and adjusting tilt sensitivity and using Brake Assist can help a great deal. Brake Assist will automatically slow down your ATV if it approaches a curve for example too quickly. Overall, the controls take some practice, but are rather easy to handle.

Besides the visuals, the intense gameplay in 2XL ATV Offroad is really where the game stands out. The races can be challenging with an AI that is pretty tough. Competing racers do a nice job of jockeying for position, and they don’t have any issues with taking you out. If I had one complaint, it’s that it can almost be too easy for competing bikers to knock me off my bike especially when I’m in the lead. The screaming of agony that accompanies collisions can either be painfully funny or just painful. Crashes that take out riders tend to have them in fetal positions on the track before they magically appear back on their bikes.

The controls are highly responsive, so making quick turns work well, although this also puts you at risk for overcompensating and oversteering. If you ever end up of the beaten path or track in this case, the game will automatically throw you back on the track albeit further behind the other racers.

The physics behind the jumps and collisions other bikers tend to play out realistically. However, crashing into objects such as trees and barriers tends to be a mixed bag where my ATV will either crash or go right through an object. It’s a minor issue, although there is no rhyme or reason behind what is solid and what is vapor. You can always go back to previously completed leagues to improve finishes and of course, the achievement system and the arcade mode provide plenty of replay value.

2XL ATV Offroad delivers an intense and more or less realistic ATV racer that has all the bells and whistles you’d expect. Sound effects aside, this game provides an immersive and punishing experience that not only shows the effort put in by the devs at 2XL, but also further demonstrates the full potential of the platform.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (visually among the best on the platform; intense and challenging game that should provide hours of play; responsive controls and a ton of customization offset mediocre sound effects)

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