Jeremy McGrath is no stranger to video games, having starred in a series of motocross titles in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over a decade later, his name has resurfaced with Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad. However, rather than taking place on two wheels, this game places you in rally cars, trophy trucks, and buggies – it’s more akin to Dirt than anything bearing McGrath’s name in the past. Developed by Rainbow Studios spinoff 2XL Games, this $10 downloadable title delivers a racing experience you don’t see much of these days – straight up off-road racing.
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Played)
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Developer: 2XL Games
Genre: Kickin’ Up Dust Racer
Release: June 27, 2012
ESRB Rating: Everyone
McGrath’s Offroad is anchored by a fairly traditional career mode. As this is a downloadable game, it’s not exactly overflowing with things to do, but with just around 20 different races, spanning numerous disciplines, there’s a couple hours of content here. Which really isn’t all bad for a downloadable game, especially one at 1/6th the cost of most boxed racers. Rather than pick and choose events, it sends you along a linear path of races. While this is a bummer, the fact is that most of them are really easy, especially on the default difficulty level, making it no big deal to coast through them all. Slogging through the career mode unlocks new vehicles and paint jobs for use in time trials, single races, and, of course, online play. Unfortunately, due to the relative obscurity of the game, the online lobbies are fairly empty.
It’s a shame that there’s no real community for the game, because it has some very solid gameplay behind it. Regardless of the vehicle class you’re given, they all handle exceptionally well. There’s always a feeling of control to the handling, even when you’re slinging the back end around a corner or quickly zipping through a series of S curves. Adding to the pleasant gameplay are solid track designs that offer challenging jumps, blind corners, twisty turns, and the like. Courses come in standard circuits, as well as the point-to-point rally style. While there’s only a small selection of tracks, they’re all fun to race on.
Visually, the game is nothing special, but at the least, it has a nice and smooth framerate to give off a solid sensation of speed. It does look like a very high-end PlayStation 2 game, but considering its downloadable nature, it’s no big deal. What’s weird is the lack of any sort of vehicle interaction with the environment – by that I mean the vehicles never show any kind of dirt despite, you know, racing in dirty, muddy surfaces. It’s like they’re impervious to wear and tear. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means… it’s just odd. Continuing a bit of the throwback nature of JMO, the menu music and in-race effects are ripped straight out of the PlayStation era, with generic tunes and a constantly chattering Jeremy McGrath. Thankfully, the latter can be turned off. To help you navigate the tracks, rather than displaying the map on-screen, you get a co-driver barking directions, which is pretty fun. I always like a passenger seat driver.
At just $10, Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is a solid and enjoyable offroad racing game, and a worthy “sleeper” game on the download service of your choice. 10 years ago this would have been a budget PS2/Xbox/GameCube game that would have been slammed for lacking content, but in 2012, the price is nice. There are hooks in there for extra content down the line as well, but that obviously will depend on whether or not the game develops a enough of a following to make it worth the effort. If anything, this will appeal to fans of the Dirt franchise needing another fix of offroad racing.
Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.