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ATV: Quad Power Racing 2

Review By:  2nd Opp

Developer:  Climax
Publisher:  Acclaim
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Racing
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  N/A
Date Posted: 

5-7-03

Quad racing is one of the few extreme sports that the gaming industry has not really tapped into.  We've all seen many motorcycle, BMX, snowboard, and skateboard games, but when it comes to ATVs, the games are few and far between.  This is even more evident on Xbox that up till now has had none.  So to help fill the gap a little Acclaim has stepped forward and has ported ATV: Quad Power racing 2 from the PS2 and delivered it to Xbox’s table.  Now, while we are getting a nice solid off-road racing game, you can't help but feel that Acclaim could have done a little more to help this game stand out.

The game comes with many of the standard modes associated with this style of game.  You get the good old arcade and single race modes where getting in third or better is the only thing that matters, then there is a freestyle mode in which you bust out your tricks for a top score, and then there’s the main attraction: career mode.  This is where you earn your new quads, build some stats, and unlock tracks for the other modes.  In career mode not only do you have to place in the top three, but you also must get top trick points to stay in competition.  The racing part is easy, but the getting top trick points can be a little difficult thanks to some sluggish controls.  All these average races can get a little repetitive, but thankfully Acclaim included a multi-player mode where you can have some fun kicking your friends of their quads or top their freestyle scores.  The only mode that seems fresh and new is the challenge mode, a mode that has you running your ATV through some difficult "obstacle" courses.  These courses start out simple but become very frustrating fast.  While the challenge mode is a nice idea, the rewards for completing them do little to keep you trying.

The gameplay of ATV 2 is quite simple, it follows the same mechanics of SSX and FreekStyle.  Your goal is to race around the track and try to get in first place, but to get there you need to do tricks to and build up your boost meter.  Sounds simple right?  Well the racing part is, but doing the tricks can get frustrating thanks to some unresponsive controls.  Just like other extreme games, tapping a combination of buttons while airborne results in a death defying trick.  Unfortunately in ATV 2, about half your jumps will end with no tricks performed, even if you did press the correct combination.  So when you are on your final lap and need a little extra boost to catch up, you will have to resort to frantic button smashing in hopes that any of the tricks will occur.  Luckily not all the tricks are lost, any that are ground based, like Bicycles, wheelies, and stoppies, work fine and are nice for show, but their use in the game is rather limited.  Stoppies (when you hit the brakes and lean up on the front tires) are pointless, trying to do one in any of the races would just put you behind.  The wheelies and bicycles (ATV balanced on two side wheels) are nice, but give you very little boost for the trouble of doing them.  You will find that you will only be using them in freestyle mode, or just to show off for your friends.

Luckily most of the game is focused on racing, and this game does that just fine.  Your quad responds in corners like it should and leaves you with the choice of sliding through them or letting off the gas to power out.  The only feature that takes a few races to get used to is the jumps.  Most of the tracks will have a few jumps lined up one after another, so you must correct your quads angle for the landing.  If you are aiming the nose of your ATV down and your landing on an uphill grade, you will crash.  Of course some of us would rather jump over those small obstructions all together.  This where you use the preload to get some extra height out of your jumps.  Depending on how long you hold the button, the more preload you'll put on the front of the quad.  So if you hit the end of a jump with max load, you'll get some extra time to smash those buttons for a trick.  It takes a little practice but soon you'll be preloading perfectly, where you'll have just enough height to land on the downside of the next jump and keep racing full speed.

To keep you pumped up for the race Acclaim has thrown in some licensed music from bands like Boxcar Racer, Godsmack, and Rollins Band.  The music fits the style of the game, but you'll soon find out that the playlist only consists of seven songs.  This makes the music very repetitive, and begs the question of why Acclaim didn't put in more then one song per band?  I guess that it doesn't really matter when most of what you'll be hearing is the whine of your quad, and they sound pretty close to the real thing.  You can tell when your ATV is topping out by the sound of the engine, and you can even hear it struggle a little when you're climbing a big hill.  All the sound effects are close to what they should be with the exception of the crashes which don't sound heavy enough to be realistic.

The game itself doesn't look to bad, while it's not jaw dropping to look at, Acclaim has cleaned it up enough to differentiate between the X-box and PS2 versions.  They have added in little effects like light reflections in the snow, and some realistic shadows for the racers.  It's also nice to see the racers get dirty from the environments that they are racing in.  Unfortunately it's the riders themselves that look very dull.  They all seem to look and move the same, which adds a generic feel of the game, you can't tell one pro fro another.  Some of the animations feel a little out of place, like when a rider falls from their quad, they turn into a stiff floaty log that bounces around.  It looks very unrealistic to so the least.  At least Acclaim threw in some attitude for the A.I.  If you try to kick them off their quad and miss, they'll give you the finger.

Highs:

  • Solid racing
  • If you miss kicking someone off, they'll give you the finger
  • Slightly better than average graphics

Lows:

  • Flawed trick system
  • Only seven songs in the playlist?
  • Riders look unrealistic when they fall

Final Verdict: 

Overall the game feels average.  Nothing really stands out to win it any awards, but it's not horrible to play either.  If you feel the need for some off road, or love ATVs then this game can be pretty fun.  If you are expecting this to be the definitive quad racer, then you may want to look else where.  It accomplishes just what it was meant to, it fills an empty spot Xbox's library. 

Overall Score: 7.2

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