Test Drive: Off-Road 2

2_1Test Drive: Off-Road 2’s biggest selling point is its on-screen replicas of real vehicles — including, of course, the mean-looking Hummer. In fact, a glance at the game box almost implies that this title is exclusively a Hummer sim, but it also features other vehicles like Dodge Rams, Jeep Wranglers, and Ford Explorers. You can take your trucks through single races or a world tour multi-race campaign. The tracks run through dirt, mud, snow, and shallow water, each of which predictably affects the handling of your vehicle.

The overall handling is, unfortunately, unpredictable; sometimes you’ll catch air off a bump, and other times you’ll zip down the other side as if you’re magnetized to the ground. Sometimes you can ride over track-side hills without affecting your speed, and other times you’ll be stopped cold — you never can be sure, because the track’s boundaries aren’t always well defined. The truck animation is so jittery I had to make sure the graphics really are 3D rendered — I thought I was watching constant snapping between sprites.

You can’t leave the track in Off-Road 2. That’s probably because the developers didn’t want you to see any more terrain graphics than you had to. These visuals date back to the beginning of 3D acceleration, when high resolution SVGA was considered just as good if not better. The proof: trees and other ambient roadside obstacles are made up entirely of sprites, but they really don’t look out of place!

The whole experience is framed by a totally out of place industrial soundtrack provided by Nine Inch Nails wanna-be bands Sevendust, Gravity Kills, and Fear Factory. It’s impossible to make the riffs go away permanently. Well, that’s not true. You can, but that involves uninstalling the entire game. Sounds like a good plan.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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