Full Review: Gas hog or environmentally friendly?
Let me go ahead and get it out right away ? 4X4 Evo 2 is not the best Xbox game available. There, I said it. And how many of you are actually surprised? Not many I suppose. Unfortunately, the game doesn't even attempt to be the best Xbox game. There are several key shortcomings that just can't be explained right away, at least not till after you look at the rest of the Xbox launch lineup.
The first area of a game that many people notice (and ask about) is the graphics. Here, we come across a mixed bag. The trucks themselves look really cool, with real-time reflections and all, but the environments are somewhat lacking. After looking at what environments can look like with other launch titles, 4X4 Evo 2 comes across more like a PS2 game. The fact that it only supports 2 people in multiplayer reinforces that.
The grass in the game is flat, but in THPS2X, there are individual blades, making fields look realistic, so we know that the Xbox can handle it. Trees are also rather flat and when driving on the dirt, not much gets kicked up by the tires. In real life, anytime you drive in the dirt, a cloud of dust gets raised, and if there is somebody in front of you, vision is obscured. This may be a small point, but if you are going for realism, you may want to take advantage of the hardware capabilities.
The variety of courses makes up for graphical lapses though. Approximately 40 different tracks are available to race on. That's a wide variety, and it's not including the various missions that are littered throughout, giving the player an opportunity to get even more money. Yes, getting more money is key. You start out with a small amount of money (relatively speaking) with which to purchase a vehicle and enter races. Naturally, winning races will award more money. This money is used to either buy different vehicles, or in most cases, upgrade the equipment in your current ride.
Things like a new chassis, seats, brakes, lights, exhaust systems, and so much more will have an effect on how your vehicle will handle. Everything has an effect from either giving better clearance for those mountain roads, to being lighter for greater speed. There is an insane amount of stuff to buy, and frankly, there may be too much. Sure, the realism is there, but how many different clearance packages do we need in a game like this?
Each of the off-road vehicles handle the same, making the decision as to which one to start out with somewhat perfunctory. I was a little disappointed in this, knowing that the Nissan Xterra handles (and sounds) the same as the Chevy Suburban, as well as the Lexus LX 470. Sure, there are subtle differences in handling, and speed, but not enough that you'd really notice.
The number of courses in the game is staggering. Approximately 40 different courses are available (not all at once, except in single race mode) set throughout various "events" of varying length. This is perhaps where 4X4 Evo 2's greatest strength lay. The courses vary in terrain and layout enough so that it really does feel like each course is different. Add to this the various missions that you can take on for money, and you could play this game for quite some time.
These missions are like side trips (or mini quests to you RPGers) that one can go on, each with its own requirements. Some of the requirements to accomplish the mission may be simple, such as delivering some medicine to a village, but the act of executing them can sometimes be tricky. The maps are quite large, and if your vehicle isn't equipped properly, you won't make it to the goal.