Release Date: October 26, 2006
ATV Offroad Fury Blazin' Trails for the PSP was a great game that ended far too quickly. In the next installment of the series, ATV Offroad Fury Pro, developer Climax added enough content to hold over everyone, but unfortunately it's all a bit too similar. Players are left with a good game that never pushes itself over that precipice toward greatness, but at times, it comes very close.
The ATV Offroad series has long been known for its great play, and Fury Pro is no different. Beginning with four-wheelers, players must work their way up the ranks of the circuit, completing races on the way toward both attention and cash. The attention comes in the form of sponsors, who pay for various things such as new parts for your vehicles (or even cash bonuses) — it's all dependent on how well you perform. Go out there and race like you're expected to, and if you net first place, you'll be living high on the hog. Lose, and you will be penalized, making the risk-to-reward factor quite high. Although it's not quite the biggest addition to the game, this can make the racing a bit more enjoyable or tense.
When you win, you gain points that can be spent on customization for your vehicle, and you can get some items cheaper from the various sponsors. A huge problem lies in how the single-player national game progresses in championship mode: Players are forced to race on the same track with each different vehicle. With each race requiring five laps around the tracks, that equals far too many trips on the very same trail.
However, there is a large variety of races that can be played to break up that grind. The individual races break down into Supercross, Rallycross, National Events, Freestyle Competition, Circuit, Rally and Endurcross, which is one of the most interesting. The Endurocross races add some variety, as players are forced to race against conditions such as snow or mud, along with obstacles like trees stumps or rocks. The biggest pain with single-player mode lies in the rubber band racing of your opponents. Rarely can you get any kind of distance over them, but if you take a spill or mess up, they will instantly pass you, which leads to far more frustration than necessary.
There are numerous vehicles and classes available; besides four-wheelers, there are also trucks, dune buggies, snowmobiles and rally cars. The issue is that all of these choices add up to very little, as each individual car, truck, or ATV handles identically. Although the engine does make it feel slightly different, it should be noted that this can make racing boring for those who might like a bit more variety. The same turn can often be taken the same way on the same tracks, leading to the kind of predictability that kills Fury Pro.
On top of that, even with the upgrades, you can barely tell a difference in your vehicle's handling, so although you have numerous options, they have a very minimal impact. During races, you can also gain points based on the vehicle you are driving, but this isn't very balanced. On bikes and four-wheelers, you gain points by performing aerial tricks and maneuvers. For buggies and trucks, the points come through simply by sliding or hitting a turn a certain way. As a result, you gain points far too easily in the trucks but through far too much difficulty on the other vehicles. Most importantly, it can make the freestyle events nerve-racking and mentally taxing as players struggle to gain half as many points as expected. It's a shame, too, because although they are interesting and somewhat fun to try, the different moves become nothing more than headaches.
Graphically, Fury Pro is fairly close to its PS2 counterpart; most of the models look very similar, with only a few details missing and a few dropped animations. The levels themselves look and work well enough, but grow boring over the course of the game. This is mostly due to the number of laps you have to take in each race, and being forced to see the same things and the same errors over and over again. Oddly enough, there is a photographer mode so you can take shots of your race, but by the time you've completed the game, you've seen all there is to see. Additionally, the graphics aren't terrible, but they're not exactly breathtakingly memorable either, so the existence of photographer mode is rather puzzling.
The music is a mishmash of hard rock and rap, which is tolerable most of the time. Engines roar nicely and sound really good at times, but most of the ATV engines don't roar as loudly as one might expect. Comparatively, the trucks and buggies sound far meatier, with much more behind them. As there are no other in-game noises, it's too bad that this was such an average approach from the ATV and bike standpoint.
The multiplayer is particularly great for Fury Pro, incorporating both ad hoc and the infrequently used Internet play. With so few games using this PSP features — or using them well, for that matter — it should be mentioned that Fury Pro is one of the best multiplayer experiences on the handheld. There are options for up to four different players to race, along with buddy lists, message boards, and a lot of great community options. Any race you see in the single-player mode is available in multiplayer, along with a bunch of great mini-games. Bowling is one of most entertaining, and although it's exactly what it sounds like, it is a whole lot of fun. There is even an option to download new content, so what could be the problem? The only new content so far is a song, the community itself is quite small, and there aren't quite enough players to warrant buying it just for this reason. The possibility of future updates is enticing, but the community isn't exactly thriving.
ATV Offroad Fury Pro answers the question of how to make a decent racing game on the PSP. Even if it is mostly just a retread of the PS2 version, Fury Pro does its duties well. With so many options and the incredible multiplayer, this easily ranks as a must-play for fans of racing and its console counterpart. If you played the PSP predecessor or dislike forms of rally and offroad racing, you might be disappointed with what is here, but otherwise, it is definitely worth playing.
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