Don’t get me wrong, I love driving games. I love offroad, I loved Dirt and all its successors, they finally made Rally racing fun for me. Off-Road Drive on the other hand is the most frustrating “racing” game I’ve ever played. I got stuck in the mud repeatedly, and not like “oh, just spin your wheels and get out…”. No, it’s a “simulation” so I’m going to simulate getting my truck stuck in the mud. Thereby, I need to make sure I’m in low gear and I have the right combination of differential and slip on which tires and…
It all makes sense, but just doesn’t seem like fun. I end up putting half my truck off the track getting penalties for hitting a post (2s) to avoid them in order to retain some decent traction. The rest of it is pretty good. I like flying up in the air, bouncing around corners and when the mud is brief. The water doesn’t seem to be any challenge other then don’t go too deep, but I haven’t had that issue. It doesn’t look fabulous, though they are high quality textures and tesselation. They’re not using PhysX specifically but it does do quite a bit of physics to determine the traction, as well as change the ground tesselation based on your tires contact (read: ruts). The other opponents don’t seem to be racing at the same time, only a “ghost” that somehow moves through mud like butter. It might make things better, worse, different? if the other drives changed the track for you but all you face is virgin road. It also adds difficulty when facing the same bog the second time around since you’ve already rammered a ham in it.
All in all I imagine someone who actually does this for fun might like a game… but then again it might be like showing a war game to a veteran.
*** Update ***
So, consider the above a “first impression” I thought “how hard could a mud simulation be”? I was wrong. You can adjust tire pressure, use the winch, and other things that make the various obstacles quick(er) work. It’s still not necessarily fast, but there’s more thinking involved to get over the obsticles, more then just brute 4WD – which I did not actually have a default mapping for with the 360 controller. I had to remap. The “mod” buttons are CTRL and SHIFT by default, even with the controller, so I remapped to the shoulder buttons (LB and RB) to be used with the D pad for most and Y and A for the tire pressure, up and down respectively.
I’ll add another video once I’ve done a race using these new found strategies.
Ok – still the same. I’ve spared you the most tedious moments.
** update 11/04/2011 **
I have no idea why, but I picked up the controller this time, deflated my tires (all the way, not just a little) and flew through it all – mud and water and everything, I even was able to keep myself in high gear which enabled me to pull 1st in quite a few races. Once you get the hang of it… I am actually kind of enjoying it now. Hooray for space and time. Using the XBOX 360 controller you hold RB + A to deflate your tires, RB + Y to inflate your tires (if there’s no mud in sight and you need more speed) – side to side differential is good for going up rocks sideways, front to back differential is good for mud and uneven ground – otherwise you lose some momentum with the extra spinning. I don’t know what made this time any different but possibly because I already had the concept… and I have to give the fully deflating the tires (it stops at about 25%) as the reason. I don’t know why I was so afraid to let it get too low before, worst case scenario I bust a tire and that hasn’t happened yet. Getting some speed (HI Gear) even helps jump obstacles I otherwise would have spent time carefully scaling. For example the last race through the jungle I just did I missed the tire sized planks/trees over a bump, I hit the right planks with my left side tires, slammed into the ground on the other side and bumped up. Having the better vehicles helps too – the Jeep Cherokee is probably my favorite as it can still blast through a mud pit in HI gear.
I must go back on this review a bit. I’m glad I retried it. It was frustrating to start, especially not knowing the concepts, but you learn what works eventually.