Hands-OnATV Offroad Fury

We take a first look at Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2 racing game.

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Amid all the new cars and trucks at the San Francisco International Auto Show, Sony was showing off a pair of upcoming games to the general public for the first time. The first, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, took up the majority of the company's booth and the lion's share of showgoers' attention within the Sony area. The second game being demonstrated was ATV Offroad Fury, a relatively unheard-of racing game that resembles Microsoft's Motocross Madness 2 on the PC.

The premise behind the game seems simple enough. Players choose a rider, customize their apparel, select from a number of ATV bikes - each with different values for handling, acceleration, top speed, and stability - and race them across wide-open areas. Judging from the limited build on display at the Auto Show, the physics seem to be quite liberal, making it possible to pull off wild midair stunts and impossibly long hang times. The graphics currently seem a bit below the standard set by PS2 launch games like SSX and Ridge Racer V, and they certainly don't stand up to those of Gran Turismo 3, which was on display only a few feet away. While the bike and rider models looked fairly realistic, they lacked the detail found in Namco's MotoGP, for example. Likewise, the levels themselves weren't really populated by any objects other than 3D trees rendered with two-dimensional branches and leaves. The PlayStation 2's processing power was clearly not being maximized, as the fog that dictated the distance at which objects on the horizon were rendered was very close, making the game seem reminiscent of something designed for the last generation of hardware. However, the riders were animated smoothly as they performed various stunts, and the bikes themselves behaved in a realistic manner, with shocks recoiling at every bump in the ground and tires kicking up dirt and debris.

Sony officials at the show couldn't comment on a release date for ATV Offroad Fury, stating only that it will release sometime next year. We'll update you with more details regarding this game in the coming weeks.

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