ATV Offroad Fury Blazin Trails – PSP – Review

Proven fact: any first-party
game that was released on PS2 within the first 12 months of its release must
be released on PSP within its first 12 months.  Who cares if it’s good for the
goose or the gander, ’cause it’s good for gamers, especially those who realize
that these aren’t merely a bunch of thrown-together ports.

ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin’
Trails is a semi-sequel with a lot of tracks, both of the racing and the
musical kind.  If this was an RPG they’d call it a side-story.  The speed is
high and fairly intense; opponents are surprisingly fierce and rarely relent;
and the air combo system has been carried over for your combo-ing pleasure. 
To sum things up quickly: yes, this game has its share of launch window
blunders, but overall it’s a solid racer that doesn’t disappoint.

Whenever I play a game in
the ATV Offroad Fury series, I can’t help but think of the Splashdown series. 
They both feature physics that are very similar (the way in which you maneuver
your ATV or watercraft is uncannily close).  That’s because both series were
started by the same brilliant developer: Rainbow Studios.  Nintendo may have
started it all with Wave Race 64, but Rainbow Studios kept it going and took
both the watercraft and the off-road racing genres to a whole new level. 

Forget James Cameron, I’m the king of the world! 

Sony owns the ATV Offroad
Fury series, so once Rainbow Studios got scooped up by THQ, it was time to
look for a new developer.  "Should they really do this?" I wondered.  "Should
they even bother?"

Lucky for them and the
new developers they approached, the groundwork had already been laid.  All the
new developer had to do was expand on it and not screw up.  Easier said than
done, but that’s just what Climax, the developer of Blazin’ Trails, has done.

Climax’s new tracks are
medium in size and large in the number of hills, turns, and chances for you to
crash your four-wheeler.  Driving isn’t easy when you’ve got to jump a hill,
land smoothly into another hill, launch into the air and land safely just
before turning.  But that’s the nature of the series; fast jumps, faster
drops, and turns that can turn you into a total loser.

I’m not sure if it’s the
game itself or the PSP’s flat analog stick, but Blazin’ Trails seems quite a
bit slippery than the previous ATV Offroad Fury games.  I don’t think it would
be much tighter with a traditional analog stick, so chances are the game is
the cause.  Regardless, this will be an obstacle that stands in between you,
your goals, and the amount of fun you could be having.  We’ve played and loved
slippery games before, and given all that’s included with this package, it’s
impossible to write the game off just for that reason. 

Don’t you just love the wide screen? 

One of the things that
makes this a great portable game is the Championship mode.  It’s lengthy, and
although all tracks are repeated, the difficulty is always increasing, as are
the challenges and the expected success rate.  Winners get extra points. 
Perform stunts and you’ll have the chance to double those points.  Lose the
race and not only will the game prevent you from continuing, but it’ll also
reward your poor performance with absolutely nothing.

Another, and this will
likely be a big selling point for the game, is the multiplayer mode, which has
the power to take you and three other players to a world of wireless bliss. 
Ad hoc and infrastructure are available.  Translation for those who don’t yet
speak PSP: Blazin’ Trails can be played with gamers standing right next you,
across the room, or across the country.  That’s the beauty of Wi-Fi.  It’s
also the beauty of airports and coffee shops (more and more of them are adding
wire-free Internet access; some free, others for a fee.  Whether you have to
pay or not, it gives you the chance to game online more frequently than you
ever could before).

Apparently without enough
unusual things, Blazin’ Trails has two non-gameplay-influencing aspects that
affect your enjoyment almost immediately: music and sound effects.  The music
gets one thumb up from me, as well as a few fingers wiggling sporadically, and
a few that aren’t too thrilled.  The mixture of music is unusual but should
appease a greater number of gamers, though the overall collection of songs
leaves a lot to be desired.

The sound effects, on the
other hand, will appease no one.  Some gamers might appreciate their realistic
sound.  I hear none of that.  I only hear the fact that it is LOUD.  It drowns
out all the music.  What’s the point of that?  You can adjust the music and
sound effects volume, but it wasn’t long before the sound effects were down to
0 and the music was at 100%.  We want the PSP to function as a music player,
not a sound effects machine. 

The first-person view.

Flawed but still furious,
ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin’ Trails is blazin’ with excitement.  I love
everything but the controls.  Once I played for a while, I discovered that
that was the only real, significant flaw.  It’s impossible to get past
entirely, meaning the game can’t score as high as most people would like it to
score before deciding that it’s worth checking out.  If 7.8 isn’t high enough
for you, that’s your mistake.  Some of the best games out there don’t receive
8s, 9s or 10s (do we ever award a perfect 10?  Seriously, ever?).  Remember

Scoring Details

for ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin’ Trails

Gameplay: 7.7
It’s fast.  It’s
intense.  It’s got competitive racers that don’t give up.  And it’s without
fog or pop-up, giving the player plenty of visual depth before tackling
corners.  What it doesn’t have is perfect controls.  They’re slippery, and
oftentimes make it extremely difficult to win without over or under-steering. 
You really have to master how the game is going to react to each situation and
adjust your skills to match.  It’s a pain, and makes the experience less than
what it could have been.

Graphics: 8
Pretty but
flawed.  My eyes instantly compared this version to the PS2 versions (I know
it’s unfair, but it’s a natural reflex.  Besides, Sony intends for the PSP to
be a portable PS2, so we’re going to expect PS2-quality visuals).  When I got
past the initial scrutinizing process, Blazin’ Trails looked great.  All the
important stuff is there (lots of polygons, no fog, and although there’s a lot
of jaggies, you don’t notice ‘m too much). 

Sound: 7.5
Good + bad = ??? 
Blazin’ Trails has an interesting soundtrack and an annoying sound effects
machine that should be muted as soon as you start playing (this can be done
via the menu screen during any race by pressing start and clicking on the
audio options).  The reason for me calling the soundtrack “interesting” and
not “brilliant” or “wildly entertaining,” is because it has a wide range of
songs from a wide range of rock genres (punk, metal, traditional, etc.).  Some
are good, some are bad, but all seem to run on a pre-set track that means
you’ll hear a few specific songs more than the rest.  I guess that explains
why they included a skip audio track feature.

Difficulty: Medium
Who let the
Cheetahs out?  These guys are fast.  And dedicated!  They’re good at
cornering, combo-ing, and they’re even better at taking the lead and rubbing
it in your face.  They’ll make most of your friends look like terrible drivers
for a week or two, assuming they can improve their skills in that amount of


is, thankfully, a way to overtake the competition and look like a pro while
doing it.  Figuring out how – that’s the fun part.

Concept: 7.1
More of what you
love, plus an all-new soundtrack and slippery controls.  I’m all for the first
part (“more of what you love”), but did we really need the other two

Multiplayer: 8
For you, your
friends, and that smelly kid who doesn’t shower.  Thanks to Wi-Fi and Blazin’
Trails’s four-player racing mode, you can engage in multiplayer enjoyment
without having to be in the same room (or even the same state) as those who
don’t have good hygiene.  Now if only I could find a way to not be in the room
with myself when I don’t feel like showering…

Overall: 7.8
Rev your engines,
turn off the sound, crank the music and speed off into the sunset.  Or a
rainstorm.  Or in any weather, climate or condition you please.  ATV Offroad
Fury: Blazin’ Trails is the imperfect game you can’t put down.