Last year, Sony and Rainbow Studios (the company behind one of the original ‘madness’ games by Microsoft for the PC) released ATV Off Road Fury, and it was so popular it became one of the first games to enter the PS2 greatest hits program. Now a year and half or so later, we see the sequel and it doesn’t disappoint.
If the title didn’t give it away, I will now: this game is about off-road racing on an ATV – but there are plenty of mini games (hello ATV hockey) thrown in for fun.
When you start up the game, you’ll first need to create a profile where you edit your character – everything from your gender to the type of gloves you’ll be wearing are customizable. You can also select the number on your back and you can also put your name on your outfit as well.
Once you have created your profile, let me be blunt. Hit the Training Course. If you’ve never played ATV, you absolutely need to go here first. If you have played ATV 1
you’ll also have to play the training mode because finishing it (and it’s very easy) gives you access to 4 new ATVs right off the bat. Training mode shows you how to accelerate, brake, steer and ‘preload’ your suspension so that you can really get some distance when jumping – you’ll definitely need to know how to do this if you expect to win races. Besides, there’s nothing like training on a baseball infield with a very large mountain between second and third, no?
Now that you’ve finished training, you can jump right into the championship races – winning those give you bonus profile points which you can use to buy new tracks or unlock other options. Interestingly enough, in the submenu where you can use your profile points, you also can see the ‘standard’ way to unlock something (such as win a championship circuit). The idea of ‘buying your way’ into unlocking is a great idea.
While the options haven’t changed from the original, the number of tracks has increased immensely. The fact sheet says there are over 40 different environments and I’ve lost count myself, so I’ll take their word for it. After you’ve unlocked everything – and that will take a while – you’ll have access to over 20 ATVs (all licensed and sporting the correct names and logos).
The ATVs themselves can be tweaked a little for the engine and suspension – while you aren’t getting that technical (sliders are involved), it still adds a little bit of customization without getting too anal retentive which is a nice thing.
Once you’re on the track, the main goal is of course to win the race in “race” mode but you’ll also be awarded points for doing stunts during the race. Stunts are performed using L1, circle and triangle plus the d-pad. The instruction manual gives a full list – so RTFM!
In addition to race mode, there’s also a freestyle mode where you’ll have to pull lots and lots of stunts in order to win. Some of the locales include stadiums like ‘Providence’, which look a lot like a well-known football stadium in New England if you know what I’m saying. Very cool.
Gameplay itself reminds me of the original – but that’s a good thing, it’s very easy to play and get addicted. You will have to figure out how to ‘balance’ your atv on those big air jumps so you don’t land and go flying off your ATV – while you do go flying, you aren’t permanently injured as this is videogame land – you’ll be back on your feet in no time.
At the end of each race, you’ll get a nice summary of your ranking, time for the race and best lap time as well as a profile points earned display. If you’re playing a championship a screen will display showing you how you need to place in the next race in order to continue. In addition you’ll have a wrap up screen showing new records you set during this race. While in race you’ll see messages such as “New personal 3rd fastest race time!!” Wow! 3rd Fastest? At least it didn’t say “your time really sucks” or something. Anyway, it’s nice that if you missed the message in game that said you broke a record for longest jump, you’ll be able to revisit it at the end.
Once you can unlock the mini-games, do so! One of the games is ATV Hockey, and as you could guess, it involves 4 ATVs on an ice rink with a gigantic puck! Needless to say, it’s kind of hard to steer your ATV on ice, but a heck of a lot of fun. There are three other minigames and they’re all pretty good, but Hockey is where you’ll be.
Unfortunately you can’t play the minigames online, but you can race with up to three others at the same time. The game does support modem or broadband connectivity, but I only tested it with broadband. The game ran very smooth on all online games I played. There are no bots in the online game, so if you start a race with two players, it’s just one on one action.
I do have a bone to pick with the online game – it’s annoying enough to knock down the score: for some reason, when you’re all done playing the game online – if you want to go back to the single player game, you have to reset the PS2! That’s right: you actually have to hit the reset button to go back to single player mode. Now, I realize this puts Sony/Rainbow in a predicament: I’d much rather have network play with this problem than not have it in the game at all – but it just begs the question: why do I have to reset the game?
Graphics in the game live up to the high standards that Rainbow Studios set for themselves back during the Madness days on the PC and right through to Splashdown on the PS2 – they are excellent. Not much (if any slowdown) can be found in the game and the background environments are very fun to watch—whether it be a train going over the bridge in one track or the rippling standing water you’ll have to drive through on another – it’s all good.
The original ATV Offroad Fury had some of the coolest old skool alternative out there. The sequel has pretty decent music but it’s on a modern slant including Garbage (hello Shirley), Korn, Cypress Hill, Filter, Alien Ant Farm, System of a Down and so forth. If you listen to modern rock radio or Squizz on XM Satellite Radio channel 48, you’ll be very familiar with the soundtrack. An interesting song in the game is called “Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja.” Look for it!
Take away the goofy network issue and you have one heck of a game – it’s everything a sequel is supposed to be. More tracks, more ATVs, new minigames and online play – it’s definitely highly recommended in my book.
Want to get the most out of your hot hot ATV action? Then we suggest you pick up PrimaGames' excellent strategy guide. It will show you everything you need to know to be the king of the dirt.
Rainbow Studios and Sony have made one of the best games of 2001 even better with this sequel. Internet play is great, but the fact you have to reboot to play single player isnâ€™t.
Rating: 8.7 Very Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I am male, married, 31 years old and love videogames ever since my parents bought me an Atari 2600 on December 24, 1979.
My resume for video gaming includes writing for PC Gamer (Contributing Editor, 2000), Operation Sports, Sharky Extreme,and the now defunct Rival Works, in addition to ghost writing for various publications. In addition from 2000 to September 2002 I was Editor In Chief for an online publication that ceased to exist because of the powers that be.
Right now I am playing Medal of Honor Spearhead, Splinter Cell, NHL2K3, Madden and NBA2K3. I love sports games and first person shooters with a pinch of strategy games.
I have two wonderful kids and live in the Northeast. I am a Patriots, Revolution and Orioles fan. View Profile