4x4 Evo 2 Preview
Universal Interactive brings the GameCube some offroad racing.
The GameCube's library of games hasn't had too many entries in the racing genre since the console's launch last year. Universal Interactive is doing its part to fill that void with its upcoming release of 4x4 EVO 2. The game was originally released last year for the Xbox, where it received a lukewarm reception. Fortunately, developer Terminal Reality is doing more than just a straight port of that game. Featuring improved handling and some added features exclusive to the GameCube, 4x4 EVO 2 looks as though it may have quite a bit to offer.
For those unfamiliar with the game, 4x4 EVO 2 is an off-road racing game where you'll be able to take the wheel of a wide variety of vehicles and compete to become the king of off-road driving. As you make your way to the top of the racing heap, you'll be able to buy new trucks or upgrade the ones you own to get that extra edge over the competition. You'll find more than 40 trucks in the game from well-known manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Dodge, Jeep, GMC, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. The variety of vehicles will come in handy as you tackle more than 35 tracks set all over the globe. The tracks will include deserts, mountains, and beaches and will feature different weather to add some variance to your racing. Thanks to the open-ended nature of the tracks, you're pretty much left to your own devices when it comes to making it to the finish line first. Though you'll find a roughly sketched-out track, if you feel like forging your own path, you can.
The game will offer four modes to test your racing skills: career, quick race, time attack, and free roam. Career is the meat of the game, wherein you'll set out to rise through the ranks of off-road racers and be named best of the best. The mode is structured like most career modes and will have you participating in competitions to earn money to upgrade or purchase vehicles. Quick race will let you race by yourself or against a friend, via split screen, on any track in the game. Time attack will challenge you to beat the best time on a track, and you can also compete against a ghost of your best time. Finally, free roam lets you have a mellow time and cruise around the game's massive tracks. Not only will you be able to go sightseeing, but you'll also be able to sniff out the best route in a track without the pressure that comes with having a horde of opponents breathing down your neck.
In terms of gameplay, 4x4 EVO 2 offers arcade-style handling and the liberal physics that go along with it. If you're a fan of Dukes of Hazzard-like jumps and car flips, then you should be right at home with the game. The control is mapped out pretty well on the GameCube pad. You'll steer with the left analog stick, accelerate with the right trigger, and brake or reverse with the left trigger. The game also offers the option to use the C stick to handle braking and reversing. The Z button will control your truck's winch, which comes in handy for going up steep inclines. The Y button will change your view, and the X button will serve as your emergency brake. If you favor manual shifting, the A button will shift up, and the B button will shift down. Finally the D-pad will serve as three buttons--it will let you right your car when it's overturned by pressing up, switch between two- and four-wheel drive by pressing left, and look behind your car during a race by pressing down. Overall handling in the game feels a bit tighter than the Xbox version as well.
Graphically the game looks good although not quite as shiny and poly-rich as its Xbox cousin. The massive areas you'll race through feature a high amount of detail and a nice assortment of lighting and weather effects. The cars also sport a nice amount of detail, although the reflection mapping on them is a bit dull. The frame rate also stays pleasantly high during races, which gives the game a nice sense of speed.
In addition to converting the core game over to the GameCube, Terminal Reality has added a few extras as well. You'll find four new trucks, four new tracks, and an alpine map system that are exclusive to the GameCube version of the game. The game will also support the upcoming Logitech steering wheel accessory.
From what we've played so far, 4x4 EVO 2 is shaping up pretty well. Solid graphics, polished gameplay, and some GameCube-exclusive extras should make for a tasty offering. 4x4 EVO 2 will ship in September for the GameCube.
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