"A Gathering that Could Lead to an Addiction"
Jeremy McGrath's Offroad, an arcade racer featuring the Supercross Champion's likeness and brought to you by D3 publisher and 2XL games, reminds me a lot of the very first Burnout: its game that looks a bit generic, but it has a hook that pulls you in through its upgrade experience system and generally enjoyable gameplay.
JMO is an offroad racing title that offers a persistent racing experience with an RPG like experience system. Going through races and doing things such as passing other racers by, destroying objects and earning first place finishers nets players point that earn the ability to upgrade vehicles in the game. The three difficulty levels available determine how many experience points will be earned from these maneuvers, so there is definitely a push from the game for the player to get better and be able to upgrade their vehicles faster. In addition, there are 5 vehicle classes, including vehicles such as dune buggies and rally cars that have to be upgraded individually, giving incentive to try out each class and see what car fits your playing style before spending points on upgrades.
Modes of play in Jeremy McGrath's Offroad include Quick Race, Multi-player, and Career, which is the meat of the game. Career gives the player lots of ways to earn experience without repetition by having the player go through each track in the game with each vehicle class. There is a point structure within the mode showing a leaderboard after each separate race, giving the illusion of a fail condition, but it seems arbitrary, as completing a race simply unlocks the next event.
Everything pretty much works as expected, with vehicles handling well before being upgraded and the upgrades themselves being noticeable when purchased. Jeremy McGrath's Offroad is an arcade title through and through, with not a lot else needed, aside from holding down accelerate and turning accordingly. There are also a few other tricks available for players, such as a clutch boost at the start of a race for those who would appreciate a bit of depth. The experience point system in-game makes for intense moments in races, as players attempt to pass opponents in the best way possible, although it would have been helpful if the game actually displayed how many points were earned in a race and maybe even how many earned upgrade points.
Visually, the game is a bit too clean and doesn’t look as gritty as a game with the word offroad in its title should look. Upon starting the game, the graphics look great, but when going through the career mode, everything just starts looking a bit too neat and static. There's an attempt to throw some personality in through scripted events going on in some of the tracks, but they too feel static, and the tracks still feel lifeless. JMO vehicles themselves seem to have even less going on, with no visible damage. Music is also non-existent in the actual races, with the only soundtrack available being a helpful optional voice over of McGrath warning of turns or dips in the track; however, there are quite a few tracks of different genres playing in the menus.
Jeremy McGrath Offroad is a solid downloadable racing game of a smaller scale. For $10 you can't go bad with everything the title offers: 6 tracks, 5 vehicle types, and a lengthy single-player mode. The game doesn't quite match the features of its retail contemporaries, but since its experience system is a huge part of its appeal and ties into its arcadey nature, this entry could be the start of a great series of racers.
GameDynamo's Score for Jeremy McGrath's Offroad (X360)
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