ATV Offroad Fury 4 - PS2 - Review
It's not every year that we get to play a new game in the ATV Offroad Fury series. Nearly, especially if you count the PSP versions, but not every. The frequent updates were likely one of the reasons the series' creator, Rainbow Studios, is no longer on board. Though this news came as a surprise, the new developer, Climax, proved they had what it takes to fill Rainbow's shoes with the release of ATV Offroad Fury 3.
The latest iteration, ATV Offroad Fury 4, is almost certainly the final sequel that will be made for the current PlayStation. If there's ever been a time for the developers to maximize content and gameplay longevity, it's now.
70+ tracks (including some repeats)
New story [career] mode
Dozens of upgrades
Online multiplayer (for you and up to seven of your closest adversaries)
The ability to control more than just ATVs...
ATV Offroad Fury 4 does not teeter from tradition. It does not explore the unconventional, or examine the possibility of a series reinvention. The game sticks to what it knows, and what the fans know, to be the best off-road racing experience available.
Four years ago the series was king. Today it's starting to show it's age, but don't let that deter you from what is still a great sequel. ATV Offroad Fury 4 is as good as the series has ever been – albeit with the exception of newness and innovation. But if you're still playing the last game and have been longing for another, you won't be disappointed.
With no significant, instantly noticeable changes to the main portion of the game, ATV Offroad Fury 4 at first appears to be less of a sequel and more of an update. That's not a complaint, but it's not praise either. I've loved this series from the beginning. The original team at Rainbow Studios were beyond genius in their creation of the game. Their work was so well done that after three sequels, the same style of gameplay is still a blast – even when carried on by the new developers at Climax. Still, I doubt I'm the only one who wanted something more.
This year, Climax gives us "more" in the form of MX bikes, buggies, and trucks. The first new edition is not unlike the ATVs you currently control. They're a tad faster, a little looser, and not quite as stable. But the general feel is the same. Many of the moves are the same as well – at least in the way they're performed. Hold the square or triangle button to put the game into trick position. Follow that action by pressing any of the directional buttons and your biker, or ATV rider, will perform a trick. Tricks earn points – points increase your credits – and credits increase your upgrade buying power.
Trucks and buggies are the biggest change, and also the greatest mixed bag. Neither vehicle was designed for steep hill-climbing or high-flying trick performance. They were made strong to last long. Flipping upside down won't be an automatic re-spawn to a lower spot in the race – if you're lucky you'll keep rolling. If not, there is still a way to rock the vehicle back and forth until it's back on its tires.
The truck and buggy controls are vastly different from the traditional ATV gameplay. Trucks are a tight, smooth ride. They're a little unstable when speeding through uneven terrain, but you're not going to flip over too often. Buggies have looser steering mechanics and can power-slide more freely, ranking up extra points (and extra credits) for the player. Buggies are the slowest vehicle in the game, but have a better time withstanding poor driving conditions.
Due to the handling differences among vehicles, trucks and buggies have been given their own set of courses. You'll see fewer bumps, fewer hills, but many more sharp turns. There are a lot of straightaways to pick up speed, and a couple of cool areas that'll let you gain air. This varies by course, but the general themes do not change.
A very basic course editor is included, adding to the game's potential replay value. However, none of the homegrown courses look or play as good as the ones the developers make. That's to be expected – after all, they are the professionals, not us. Taking that into consideration, the unintuitive editing and awkward track placement system – which were supposed to be designed for inexperienced game developers like ourselves – are unacceptable. Only the most diligent players won't be turned off, but they'll certainly be frustrated.
ATV Offroad Fury fans can get down 'n' dirty for one more PS2 outing. The tiered-based Story mode is great, allowing players to decide how many additional events they wish to enter once a certain point has been reached. The truck and buggy gameplay, and its course design, will need to be overhauled before it'll be groundbreaking in the next generation. They're moderately amusing, and are not emphasized nearly as much as the ATV races. But you can choose to use an ATV throughout most, but not all, of the game.
If more of the last game (and the two before that) is what you've been waiting for, ATV Offroad Fury 4 will be a solid edition to your collection.
Review Scoring Details for ATV Offroad Fury 4
It’s ATV Offroad Fury 1, 2, and 3 with more track options. The implementation of new vehicles adds unexpected variety to a game that started out with only ATVs. The series has been working with ATVs since the beginning, so it’s no surprise that it’s still the best vehicle in the game for controls, speed, and maneuverability.
ATV Offroad Fury 4 has some cool visual tricks up its sleeve, just as it did five years ago. The graphics haven’t evolved much since the original, leaving the player with a game that, at first glance, appears to be a rehash.
Disappointing. I applaud the game’s use of rock music, and its huge list of tracks from a wide range of artists. From mainstream bands like Audioslave to many you’ve probably never heard of, the lineup is one of the best around.
Unfortunately, these songs – no matter how good they are – do not have the rotation value of other rock soundtracks. You’ll like most of what you hear the first couple times you hear it. Then the songs, for a reason I can’t quite explain, lose their appeal. Likewise, the sound effects in this game are dated, repetitive, and lost their appeal with the original. Real-world Supercross events might sound like this game, but that doesn’t mean the constant engine revs are good for the ears.
The later ATV/bike races should be fairly challenging to those who are out of practice. If you’ve been keeping up with the series, your skills will turn the game into a wad of cookie dough. The new truck and buggy events do not add to the challenge.
Same idea for the fourth game running. It’s polished, yes. The story mode’s voice acting is actually impressive – I never saw that coming. But the plot is as generic as they come: a rookie, shot down from victory, fights to become the world’s greatest athlete. Pardon me while I yawn.
For the next generation of ATV Offroad Fury games, I hope they can take the series to a new, groundbreaking level comparable to what the first game did upon its debut. And no, I’m not referring to a more immersive story mode. Developers are better off scrapping the script in favor of innovative gameplay.
A solid, highly competitive experience to dive into once you’ve gotten all you can get out of the single-player modes.
A great way to say goodbye to the current run of ATV Offroad Fury games. It’s exciting, has a wonderful trick system, excellent courses, and all the addictive content the series is known for. It’s more of the same, and for the third time running. But unlike other series that just love to repeat themselves, this one is still really good.