Off-Road Redneck Racing offers Championship, Challenge, and Time Trial racing on 24 tracks in six diverse locations, including Everglade Encounter, Dead Man's Drop, Backwater Chase, Slaughter Yard Run, Red Rock Canyon, and Campy Crystal Lake. Each location has four tracks, many of which must be unlocked by winning races or division titles. Sixteen vehicles, ranging from buggies and jeeps to off-road trucks, become available based on performance.
Drivers Championship mode requires you to begin in the Amateur Division (one of four progressively tougher leagues) with one of 14 possible teams. Vehicle upgrades are given in exhaust, turbo, engine, and gearbox categories and success leads to offers to join better teams within each league. Race lengths range from one-lap sprints to four-lap endurance trials, and include day and night racing, double-points races, and point-to-point runs.
Only a limited number of Division 4 tracks and vehicles are initially available in Challenge and Time Trial modes, and unlike Championship mode, no nitro boosts can be found. Various body style selections are available from a limited number of choices, with more unlocked only by successfully competing in the Drivers Championship.
Multiplayer action allows for up to six players on a LAN with customizable options including location, track, race conditions, time of race, number of laps, and use of computer-controlled drivers (adjustable skill levels). Split-screen mode is available for two-player action and features configurable keyboard control settings, manual or auto transmission shifting, analog steering, and optional force feedback controls. 3D acceleration is required to play Off-Road Redneck Racing.
If you witnessed the 3D revolution in the gaming industry, you surely remember Redneck Rampage... The game appeared in the middle of the doom-hype, and even though no one can say that it was a technological masterpiece, just like Duke Nukem 3D, it was remembered for its unusual situations, mature humor and phrases.
Interplay decided to refresh our memory by publishing another game set in the Redneck universe. You can guess from the title that this one has little to do with running around and shooting, and that it in fact incorporates a bunch of rednecks driving their weird vehicles, trucks and buggies on off-road terrains. The situation isn't as funny and interesting as one might think after this introduction, but you sure can expect a good arcade ride.
Now, this is exactly what the programmers had in mind while creating this little game, so all of you in pursuit of a perfectly realistic off-road driving sim. can just skip Offroad Redneck Racing... Unfortunately, that also goes for those of you who expected something as hilarious as the ole' Redneck Rampage. I have to say that I did not take that as much of a disappointment at first: Before I first loaded the game I had this feeling in the back of my head that the entire thing will completely rely on cheerful country, stupid songs about drunken women, and interesting, seldom decent, sounds. Even the main menu insinuated something like that, but then, after the first race was over, well, I'm sure I heard all samples in the game. I think that I heard "Sunday, Sunday....", "I'm the law, stop or I'll shoot!" or "iiii-haaaaa" at least ten times per race... If this was supposed to be the big difference in comparison with Rage's Offroad, well it ain't enough...
As for the ride itself, the focus had been put on sheer arcade fun, rather than on any verisimilitude. It took me some time to get used to the game (well that goes for any newer driving game) and from there on everything went swimmingly. The vehicles act a bit funny, as they never seem to slide properly, which will cause you some trouble until you get used to it. Car crashes are pretty benevolent, and will rarely ever interrupt the course of your race. Driving on different surfaces (snow, rain) will affect the behavior of your vehicle, yet not too drastically.
You'll have a chance to race on 24 tracks altogether, set in six different environments. Even though the environments have been placed all over the world, they are all mostly the same redneck terrains with forests, villages, big rocks, dirt roads, and mountains. Getting all these terrains "unlocked" will require passing all the pain-in-the-ass championships. This all functions the same as in other racing games, with a slight difference that you will spontaneously be rewarded with a car upgrade, or a new machine if you've got guts to show 'yer skills and finish a race first...
Advancing through the game won't be that easy, though, as your opponents are pretty good drivers themselves. There are several levels of difficulty you'll have to pass through, but even the easiest level might present some trouble if you want to finish first. Even if you make it, the others will be right behind you. A single mistake will frequently take you from the first to the last place. As you advance through the game, you will face stronger opponents in better cars. Fortunately, when in championship mode, you can save your position after each race, and there is an unlimited number of save slots, which is less than typical for games of this type.
Apart from the championship, there is also the challenge mode in which you can practice on any "unlocked" track, and the time trial mod. I have no clue as to why they have not included any typical redneck modes... some wild goose chase, 'capture the pig' or something like that...
The game supports up to six players on LAN, and the two-player split screen mode on one computer (the system which used to be quite popular on Commodore 64 seems to be having a renaissance) but there is, unfortunately, no way you can play this over internet.
The graphics are beautiful and very detailed. The huge number of particles in game instantly thrilled me: the flying leaves, the dust, the skid marks, and the water that splashes out from a puddle... You can see a very detailed and well-animated driver in each car. The lighting effects are as good as they get. I mean, you won't see any lasers or anything similar, but the beautiful colors of the terrain in sunset, and the high-quality shadows produced by each and every object on screen, and even the great lens-flare effect look simply perfect. The only flaws there are the 2D tree-sprites, which apart from lacking one dimension might have at least had decent textures... The same goes for spectators, but they are sufficiently far away that you probably won't mind. The game features two third-person views and one first-person view.
The physics engine has also been done well. The roads are crammed with boxes, barrels and road-cones for you to smash. Still I wish there had been more different interactive objects on terrain. The rest of the objects are non-interactive and include rocks, bulldozers and trees for you to smash yourself against. The dust behind the vehicles, the flying leaves, and all other effects look just great... The only thing that makes the visual engine less than perfect is the lack of the damage-model that could have seriously improved gameplay and atmosphere.
There, if you thought that Offroad Redneck Racing would give you a lot of a lot of new jokes and good humor, you were much mistaken... on the other hand, you sure got a fine racing game which may hold you for a while.
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