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Game Profile
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-4
January 27, 2003
ATV: Quad Frenzy

ATV Quad Power Racing 2

ATV Quad Power Racing 2

ATV Quad Power Racing


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 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on February 24, 2003

Full Review: It's all terrain, and it's all good.

ATV Quad Power Racing 2. By a show of hands, who here has heard of this game up until very recently? No one? Yeah, same here. Naturally, not knowing much of the title, I skeptically opened the package and put the disk into my Xbox all the while waiting for a crap-fest to unfold before my very eyes. But what's this? No crap-fest presented itself. While the game is certainly not perfect, flying through mud, water, snow, and everything else, all the while getting mad air and pulling off insane tricks in your All Terrain Vehicle, has never been so fun. Let's find out why?

Upon booting up the game and meeting the main menu, you'll find a good dose of the standard modes available to you ? a quick training seminar that goes by the moniker ATV Academy, and the must have Career, Arcade, Single Race, Freestyle, Challenge, Time Trial, and Multiplayer modes. Obviously, there's a bevy of different ways to get your race on with, all are which, for the most part, pretty self-explanatory. Though, the one that always stands out in games of the type is the Career mode, which to be quite honest, is relatively simple in nature here in ATV 2. You'll start out as a skill-less amateur, where you'll compete in a set of 5 races, each of which takes you to a unique landscape. Finish in the top three, which is judged by your position at the end of a race and the points you rack up by performing tricks, and you'll move on to the Professional ranks, and then to the Superstar segments of your career. While there really isn't much depth to this set-up, and it all can be completed very quickly, there's still plenty of reason to play through it -- you'll find that your character's stats will raise after races, which can then be used in the other game modes, plus, the Career Mode also doubles as a means of unlocking new tracks and ATVs.

If you're looking for that quick racing fix, the Single Race mode will have you covered; here you get to select your rider, bike, and take to any level without any rewards or repercussions. The Arcade has a little more to it, as it is here where you compete in a set of two lap races where you have to reach checkpoints within the given time frame ? fail to reach a checkpoint inside any given race and it spells game over for you. The Freestyle mode is one that surprised me the most ? the game puts you into an in-door freestyle arena, full of tons of ramps and trick options, and lets you attempt to get as high a score as possible within the selected time frame. ATV 2's Challenge mode is pretty unique as well ? here you'll have to attempt various challenges that put your skills on an ATV to the maximum test.

There's no doubt that the sheer variety in the different modes is quite impressive. However, it's the gameplay itself in ATV 2 that will have you hooked. Straight up hard-nosed racing is no doubt the focus of the game. Although, things like tricking and kicking your opposition of their ATVs have been implemented in a way them makes them complement the racing quite well. Asides from just mashing in the gas (A button) and navigating the various turn and jumps, one must take into account the importance of pulling off tricks, which is quite simple really. When approaching a ramp, or big hill, holding down the R-trigger will preload your jump, and when timed correctly and let go at the peak of the object you'll get some mad air for performing trick maneuvers. The tricks themselves are pretty basic, consisting of only simple directional and button presses. Additionally, you can perform wheelies, stoppies, as well as bicycle maneuvers (getting on two wheels), and naturally, all these techniques can be combined together, giving you the opportunity to rack up some serious combo points. It's in no way as profound as trick systems found in the more trick-oriented extreme games, but the developers accomplished what they set out to do quite well.

Asides from the importance of scoring as many points as possible, the tricks are also very important in that they grant you turbo speed, of which the amount is displayed on the HUD. Holding down the Y button activates your turbo, which will send you streaking along at a much faster pace. Interestingly, all this can lead to a nice chain of effects for the player ? cause the turbo lets you take jumps with even more speed, resulting in bigger air and more tricks that leads to even more turbo speed (whoa, that was a mouthful). So if you can keep this cycle going without eating dirt, you can win a race fairly easily. Adding to that is the fact that by kicking (B button) your opponent of his or her four-wheeler, you in effect steal their turbo boost; not only slowing them down and taking whatever boost they had to catch up with, but also using that boost to take an even bigger lead. However, this can backfire on you, especially when facing the higher skilled A.I., where they are relentless, and almost unfair, in their route to the finish line. Though, I've found that in the end this worked more towards my advantage than not. Overall, it makes for some compelling races.

The tracks in the game take place in 5 different locales, which sport a variety of road conditions ? the desert oasis, the forest, the swamp, the hill soaked construction sites, and last but no least, the snow. The game sports 3 tracks in each of these environments, culminating in 15 tracks in all ? each of which is fairly long, keeps your attention, and for the most part are really easy to memorize. Not only that, but they work well in showing off the games well-implemented physics engine.

Graphically, the game certainly gets the job done, though; it's not going to win any beauty contests. ATV 2 flies along a nice, solid frame-rate, and the tracks have just enough detail to be semi-impressive. There are also some very nice effects spread throughout, such at the sun-glare that can actually limit your vision for a short while, but is realistic nonetheless. My big complaint with the visuals is that the player models and ATVs lack detail, and seem as if they're something akin to what you'd find on the PSOne. All in all, it's a nice looking game.

ATV 2's audio is certainly a mixed bag. The sound effects are pretty good, but the soundtrack is one of the worst I've ever heard, and on top of that there's no custom soundtrack feature to speak of. Now, I cannot even begin to tell Climax how much more fun being able to use your own songs would have made the game. Instead, we're left with 7, count them, 7, songs in all. Most of which are pretty old, like Godsmack's Bad Religion (circa 1998), and aren't all that great to begin with. Needless to say, that while catchy, they get old very quickly.

If you want replayability, ATV 2 has got you covered with its multiplayer additions, which supports up to 4 players, via split-screen. Here you have four different modes to compete in ? Single Race, Head-to-Head, Championship, and Freestyle. While each of these modes is extremely fun to check out when your friends stop by, overall I think the game really could have benefited from Xbox Live play. Although, who knows, maybe that feature will make an appearance in the third rendition. There's no doubting that it will add immensely to the overall game.

Bottom Line
I feel that ATV Quad Power Racing 2 is a game that is being wrongfully overlooked by the masses, and underrated by most gaming publications. Not only are there tons of different modes of play and nice looking visuals, but the game is just genuinely fun to play, whether you go at it alone or against some buds. While it's in no way perfect, and it could have greatly benefited from a custom soundtrack option and Xbox Live support, the game's retail value of $29.99 makes it worth every penny, if not a little more.

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