As a general rule of thumb, any game that features a person’s full name in the title is usually an awful experience, so long as that person’s name isn’t Tony Hawk and the game was released last generation or before that. When I was offered the opportunity to review Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad, I considered it just one more trial to get through, one more game that needs to be played for the sake of having a review that exists. And after playing it, my feelings are mixed.
The game attempts to bring full retail-quality into a downloadable racing title. Featuring Rally Cars, Trophy Trucks, Buggies, and more, the standard racing game takes a distinct focus an arcade-style racing. As in, very few bells and whistles (no nitrous here, folks), and the only goal being found in getting to first place. There is an arcade mode, which just features racing with minor setting adjustments, but the bigger draw is the career mode, containing 23 events across several levels and locations. Within this mode are several different types of races, as well as an experience and upgrade system, but it’s all just more racing with a format attached to it. I do particularly appreciate the fact that further competitions are unlocked even when the racer (namely, me) gets last place on several of the races, improving the pace greatly.
The gameplay is not nearly as acceptable, unfortunately. The racing itself is competent, the game looks pretty decent (minus a few terrible textures), the sound is harmless and forgettable, but there is really nothing to write home about. My biggest issue with the game is that it just isn’t that much fun. The racing is just racing, and there really isn’t any motivation to play outside of playing for the sake of playing. On top of this, all vehicles feel almost exactly alike, the designs of vehicles are incredibly bland, and the basic controls aren’t nearly enough to actually win above the easiest difficulty. To actually win, there are advanced tactics that need to be learned (like correctly taking advantage of powerslides and clutch boosts), which is almost too much to ask for an experience that is supposed to be immediately accessible. There is multiplayer, but the round I played wasn’t anything special.
Ultimately, there aren’t really any particularly enjoyable parts, the game isn’t very realistic, and the advanced controls are a necessity to figure out how to get past seventh place, so it’s hard to justify playing it, let alone purchasing it. There is no ultimate reward for playing this game, and the joy of playing is not enough of a reward in itself, especially with the barrier of entry to someone with very little experience in this kind of thing. And even when I took the time to learn the ropes, and won the final championship on medium, the first thought I had was not “Hooray!”, but rather, “Well, that’s one game out of the way.”