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April 15, 2002
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 Overall Score: *75*ESRB Rating: Everyone (E)

4x4 EVO 2 [Microsoft X-Box] 

by Gathering of Developers  Reviewed by: Charlie Cummins  


ScreenshotOverview

The definition for insanity is “persistent mental disorder or derangement.” Drivers who have a 4x4 vehicle and constantly enjoy off-roading and “four-by-fouring” in their SUV, truck or jeep can be likened to this definition. They continually place their vehicle and themselves in places and situations that would cause any sane driver to faint dead away. Experienced and professional off-roaders go so far as to compete in races and challenges that will astound anyone. In customized vehicles, these drivers attack a towering hill and mountain of boulders with an “insane” glee.

4x4 EVO 2  for the Xbox by Gathering of Developers adds credence to that definition of insanity as you take the wheel behind twenty-two licensed off-road vehicles and climb, crawl and then sprint over terrain and locations that will push your skill and vehicle to the limits. Through heavy snow pack, over sand dunes, barreling down 45+ degree inclines, this game will challenge any gamer to the point of frustration. For speed racers, this game is not about speed but planning. The selection of vehicles and parts is vast and the locations are okay. With some annoyances for the average gamer and some frustration regarding how to view the course and terrain, 4x4 EVO 2 is an off-roader’s racing game and fulfills only the most die-hard off-roader’s need for gleeful insanity.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Plan, practice and play. This is the game at its most basic. However, there is nothing basic about any of these things. Planning is an integral part to even competing in a race. You need to buy the best vehicle and parts to climb the hills, boulders and obstacles in your path. From a selection of twenty-two vehicles made by Chevrolet, Infiniti, Nissan, Lexus and more, take your vehicle to your garage for continued preparation. Each vehicle has its particular strengths and weakness and you can purchase modifications to the engine, chassis, tires, electronics and even appearance. Some parts will enhance the vehicle, maybe its horsepower or torque. However, these parts could have adverse effects on other areas such as torque or suspension. Helpful information about every part gives you an idea if you are upgrading or downgrading your vehicle for the upcoming race. For newbies who just want to race, you will find that knowledge of off-road vehicles, parts and terminology is a necessity. If you have the patience for the scrolling help text, read it thoroughly or you will be wasting money on parts that will not help you get through the snow or mud.

Once you have installed or removed the various parts, pick a track and start practicing. And practicing -- until you have the course down. Following the worn paths will get you through the track but there are shortcuts that will speed you to the front when it’s race time. Make sure you go through all checkpoints or you may cross the line first but still be in last place. Gamers please note, missing a checkpoint will not get you any money, even if you are first.

ScreenshotThe controls are very simple and even duplicated for those drivers with a particular technique. Triggers are brake and accelerate and steering is done with the left directional stick. Use the emergency brake for those tight corners. Use the right joystick for accelerate or brake if you prefer. The directional pad lets you choose two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and then it's practice, practice, practice.

Driving alone on a track is one thing. but throw in five other drivers and the intensity picks up. You need to maneuver pass some very good and not so good drivers. The frustrating part is the other drivers who crash into you are bent on driving through you. Soon you will find your self off course and missing the checkpoint. As off-roaders will tell you, “four on the floor” will get you moving instead of spinning your tires in place. Sometimes flying over a hill will put you in last fast and flipped while the other experienced drivers speed past you. An annoyance for most gamers will be the need to be extremely precise in your driving. Taking a hill too slow without momentum will find your vehicle moving backwards rather quickly. Hit the wrong boulder or a deep mud patch and you are stuck. There is not a restart race option at this point. You will need to go back a few menu choices before you are back racing the track again. But, hit the course perfect and take the turns flawlessly and first place is yours. Good luck. More respect, more money for better parts and you just might be invited to join a racing team such as Slim sponsored by Lexus or Team Death sponsored by Chevrolet.

Need some extra money and practice? Try a mission that will have you as a Field assistant in Tijuana or a Relief Worker taking food to a village in Alaska. Money for better parts or another vehicle is highly recommended when trying to compete in the various Series and Qualifying Events. Or in any race for that matter.

There are 54 different Series, each containing between three and ten events. Some Series such as the Endurance Cup and the World Championship cup, consisting of 17 races, require that you complete Qualifying events. These single competition races may even be vehicle or manufacturer specific to join. Earn the respect of teams in these races and you may be invited to join their team. This gives you specialized parts that you can install on your vehicle. The selection and challenges are endless. Somewhere after all this planning and practicing, there is racing.

Graphics

The graphics are good but not ground breaking. Mud and dirt fly behind your vehicle. Clouds race over the reflection on your windshield and hood. “Rooster tails” of water fly as vehicles dive into mud puddles and streams. Headlights strain through dense fog or reflect off the opponents’ vehicles. This is “old hat” and appears in various other racing games. One frustration was switching between views to garner a better view of the terrain as you race. Looking at the terrain map does little to help. Locations are well rendered if uninspired, from tropical palms to floating logs to snow drifts on a weather station. For a racing game, this is on par with the genre but nothing exceptional.

Audio

The audio in a racing game is important. Hearing the engine rev to high may mean that the tires are spinning and not contacting the ground. Engine sounds are clear and distinct, even with the included music tracks or personal music downloads in the background. Audio in this game is nothing great but one plus is you can add your own music.

ScreenshotBottom Line

This is a game for the die-hard off-roader. There is more to planning and buying vehicles and parts than there is to racing at times. Wrong vehicles and lack of parts on your vehicle and you will find yourself in last place time and time again. Before you even race, you may need to memorize a course and, even then, your wayward opponents and their one-track minds will often send you careening off-course. Graphics are the standard racing fare and audio is, well, there. 4x4 EVO 2 for the Xbox by Gathering of Developers is for the most insane of off-roaders who need all the various off-road games that are available. For most gamers though, stay sane, stick to the roads and drive past this game.

Review Posted On 3 January 2002.

 
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