ATV Offroad Fury Pro Impressions
Four wheels, on the go; we check out an updated version of this handheld dirt racing game.
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Last year's ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails was the PlayStation Portable debut of Sony's long-running arcade dirt racing series. The next game in the handheld series, ATV Offroad Fury Pro, is set for release later this year and, while it will have some gameplay hooks that will tie it to ATV Offroad Fury 4 for the PlayStation 2, the developers at SCEA are working to make sure Offroad Fury Pro stands on its own as a fast, dirty, and fun racer. We got a chance to see the game in action for the first time since E3 at a recent Sony press event.
As in Offroad Fury 4, the vehicle list in Offroad Fury Pro has been expanded beyond just ATV quad racers and MX bikes to also include buggies and trucks. The game will feature more than 30 vehicles to choose from, as well as an updated vehicle-tuning system, which will let you change tires, exhaust, gear ratios, and more. The vehicle you choose to drive will effect which race types you can enter, many of which are new to Offroad Fury Pro. Endurocross races, for example, are just for MX and ATV bikes, while events such as rallycross are perfect for the trucks and buggies. Though the PSP game won't include the story-intensive championship mode featured in the PS2 version of ATV Offroad Fury 4, it will have a few race types that are unique to it alone, including rally racing and snowcross, both of which will include new vehicle types (rally cars and snow mobiles), which aren't available anywhere else. As far as the returning game modes, it's a pretty standard list--practice, lap attack, single race, championship, and free ride.
There will also be a number of new minigames for Offroad Fury Pro, including rings of fire, card battle, and pool. Rings of fire is a race to the finish, where the player is forced to jump through rings of fire that are placed throughout the course. Using the waypoint editor found in the game, you'll also be able to create your own rings of fire courses by dropping in rings wherever you see fit. Card battle pits you in a head-to-head battle against another player to win new parts, rider gear, and vehicles by comparing stats and betting on various categories. You won't be able to race for pink slips, unfortunately. Even if you lose to an opponent, for example, you won't lose your ride completely. Pool, the final new minigame, has you use your ATV as a cue ball to try to knock gigantic pool balls into the pockets found on the course. Other returning minigames include bomb dodge, treasure hunt, and graveyard madness.
The minigames found in Offroad Fury Pro will be playable on the PSP via ad hoc or infrastructure mode. But it's more than just races and minigames this time around. Both the PSP and PS2 versions of the next ATV Offroad Fury games will share the same online community, letting you access message boards, view scores, rankings, player profiles, and exchange game data with other players. Perhaps coolest of all is the news that you'll be able to upload and download tracks you've created, which will surely give the game some legs. Unfortunately, we didn't get an opportunity to see the track editor or try it out, but here's hoping it's at once user-friendly and powerful. Beyond the online modes, the game will also support cross-connection with the PS2 Offroad Fury game, letting you share vehicles, trading cards, and the aforementioned customized circuits between the two games.
Beyond the extensive list of modes, one of the other big areas of focus for the team behind Offroad Fury Pro has been in the control of the vehicles themselves. Blazin' Trails was a particularly twitchy affair, and the producers told us they've come a long way in assuring that the PSP's analog stick works better with the in-game ATV than it did in the last game, without losing the sensitive touch that players demand from the game.
With more than 30 different race environments covering six different terrains--including dirt, snow, ice, and grass--new race types, and multiplayer game modes that look to up the replay value, ATV Offroad Fury Pro is aiming to become not just a nice complement to ATV Offroad Fury 4 for the PS2, but also a strong game in its own right. We'll be bringing you more on this game as we get closer to its release date later this year.