ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 Review (PS2)
ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 (will be referred to as Quad Racing 2) is the newest entry into the 4-wheel ATV off road racing genre of games for the Playstation 2. Acclaim and developer Climax are hoping to dethrone Sony’s entry ATV Offroad Fury 2 as the current top ATV racer for the PS2. Not too long ago I reviewed Sony’s version and ended out walking away very pleased and even after unlocking everything I still continue to play this one on occasion. Read on to find out how well Quad Racing 2 stacks up and if it has what it takes to de-throne Sony’s as the preferred ATV racer on the PS2.
The graphics in Quad Racing 2 are neither flashy nor bad to look at. The backgrounds look nice, the sun effects while racing are very good as well as visually can make racing a chore when they appear. There are rain and snow effects as well, but to me they really didn’t do the job they should have. I would have liked them to be a little more intrusive. Rain and snow effects should affect the gameplay to the point of being a slightly bigger challenge, but I really didn’t get that feeling with the effects. They did look nice though, so not all is lost with them. I did notice a small slowdown when all 6 riders were on the track together and the snow was falling.
Characters and bikes don’t look too bad. If you get close enough you will see the details of the suspension and engine, but really nothing that adds or detracts from the graphics. You can see the brake lights of the ATVs in front of you as well as the headlights when you turn and look behind your racer. With the characters wearing their respective safety gear there isn’t much to see other than the gear and the shape of the rider’s body. Some don’t wear full suits, some do. The character and bike graphics are neither negative nor positive. They are just basically the same standard typical graphics. I really doubt there is much more anyone else is going to be able to do with the current architecture of the PS2.
While racing you will see indents in the sand and dirt from the tires digging into the track. They initially looked a little weird to me, but they do give you the visual feedback as to where you are actually gripping on the track which is a positive to improve your racing as you can see mistakes when you don’t see two tracks showings up. As I adjusted to them they longer bothered me but I actually started to like them.
The tracks themselves look good but can be difficult to race on at times. On some tracks the lighting is perfect, even on the night tracks, but in others your eyes will be straining to figure out where you are and you still won’t really be completely sure. I can understand dark environments for a challenge, but the ATVs have headlights, why are they not shining my way? The tracks do include a variety of obstacles to avoid and work with as well as a multitude of track surfaces to adjust to. One of the swamp tracks has you racing on mud, water, sand, wooden docks as well as numerous large jumps and small sections of whoop jumps (multiple small humps placed very close together that use timing as well as skill to go through quickly). There was one spot where I was coming off a huge jump then all of a sudden I plastered my rider on the railing of a catwalk. There are also other interesting obstacles that you wouldn’t expect to see but I will leave those for you to see should you check this title out. The water splash effects are very reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid. I thought they were well done, as well as used properly by slowing your ATV down when you go through it.
The sounds include the whine of the ATVs, which aren’t terrible, but they also are not great either. Sometimes they can be considered borderline on the edge of annoying. Thankfully volume control is here, which can help keep the sounds tolerable. Along those lines of volume control you have the soundtrack. If you don’t mind rock/pop rock music you will be happy with the soundtrack. If that isn’t your cup of tea it won’t take you long to adjust the background music off. Godsmack is the main featured band on the soundtrack, but only one of their songs is here. Rest of the bands are of the lesser-known variety, at least to my ears.
The balance of sounds includes the riders grunting when they fall and other riders screaming for joy as they nail a perfect jump or take the lead. You will get used to hearing the sounds of thuds as you plaster your rider on a post or into the side of a canyon. The sounds overall really don’t add anything special nor do they take anything away from the game. Everything is easily adjustable and it is better than playing in dead silence.
First off when you load the game for the very first time you are asked to create a rider from the available male and female characters. Once that is done that particular character cannot be used for another user. After your character has been chosen it is on to choose an option. You can unlock more riders to choose which is mentioned in the modes that follow.
There are decent amount of options available in Quad Racing 2. First off there is ATV Academy, which has the user try 10 different lessons on how to perform actions while riding. First five are the basic maneuvers of the bike, the second 5 teach you how to perform a few of the different stunts. Once these are completed you will have started the process of unlocking items within the game, with at this point being two new ATVs.
A couple of the basic racing modes include the following: Single Race, which is just that, a single race where it pits you against the AI on any of the unlocked tracks and ATVs. Time Trial where you still take any of the unlocked ATVs and race to get the best track time on any of the unlocked tracks.
Enough of the basic modes of play, now its time to mention the modes that have some longevity to them as well as have the ability to unlock items for use. The next mode to mention is Freestyle, which has you picking an arena or area and performing as many tricks as possible to rack up the highest point total in a set time frame. I will have more about tricks later in the review.
Challenge mode is an interesting mode that I found to be very entertaining. There are two different games within the Challenge mode. One is Ground Challenges, which has you accomplishing certain objectives in a set time to attempt to achieve a gold, silver, or bronze medal (1st, 2nd, or 3rd). The other is probably the best non-racing feature of the game and is called Tower Challenge. Here the goal is to climb to the top or descend to the bottom on a multi-tiered tower in a set amount of time and obtain the same types of medals from as in the Ground Challenges. Between each platform is a section that presents your challenge. These can range from a large metal ground gutter like sewer pipe that is suppose to be slippery, and with it being round and slick trying to accelerate and stay on this pipe, tries to be a challenge. Other sections will be half corkscrews that must be tamed fast as well as accurately, and than others that have various heights of jumps on them. The error margin is normally very small on each section, and one mistake ends the current challenge. If you fall, you and your ATV go splashing into the water below. Sadistic minded people may try and find various ways to launch your rider, including myself, but even the actual mode itself was a lot of fun. Too bad there wasn’t more towers or even larger ones. As you obtain gold medals you will unlock new riders from which to choose from when you create a new user.
The next two modes are Arcade and Career. Arcade mode is very one dimensional in being that the only goal is to finish the race in an allotted amount of time to move on to the next race. Doesn’t matter what place you finish or how many tricks you perform as long as you cross the finish line prior to the time running out. As you progress you unlock new tracks for use. Career mode however is a lot more involved. The goal of career mode is to progress your rider from a novice to a professional, which is done by finishing third or higher in the segment of races for the particular level. Along the way you will unlock new tracks, riders, increase your riders’ skill points, and obtain new tricks for use. The longevity of the game is here. In Arcade mode you were limited to time. Well one of the weird things is the time is also limited in Career mode, which is ok, but the implementation of it doesn’t make sense with what should be considered a career mode. Let me explain. In a career mode you would expect that if you finish last in a race that you move on to the next race with the lowest amount of points won, which makes the goal of finishing third or higher more complicated. Here if you are last and you don’t cross the finish line within a certain amount of time after the leader has finished it ends your race. You then get brought back to the career menu with your next race being the one you just ended. This just isn’t right in the career mode sense. Once you finish your progression through Career mode you will then have available a Custom mode that allows you set up your own championship by picking and choosing the tracks to race on. By this time you will have a vast majority of tracks available to you.
Last mode of play is Multiplayer. Here you can choose to play another human in a Single race with AI racers, Head to Head with just the other player, Freestyle Battle where you try and do more and better stunts, and lastly Championship where just the two of you progress through a championship to see who is better. Multiplayer Championship mode would have been a little better multiplayer had AI racers been included in the mix
The racing on the track is not a bad thing but there are a few flaws and problems. First the racing against the AI in the early stages is rather easy on any of the modes. As you progress the racing starts to get a little more intense. The biggest difference between Quad Racing 2 and ATV Offroad Fury 2 is the fact that in Quad Racing 2 you have the ability to knock the other riders off of their ATV, as they can also do to you. The R2 button has your rider kick whichever direction another rider was when you started the kick. You can hold the R2 button and the rider will have his leg in the ready position, once you let go, the rider attempts the kick. Very reminiscent of Road Rash and this isn’t a bad thing. Kicking the opponents off of their ATVs is a very usable strategy that can help you win many races, as you progress though you better be ready to get kicked off of yours, because the higher-level racers are very aggressive.
Racing against the AI isn’t too bad. There seems to be a little semblance of catch-up logic in the game. Basically it is very rare not to have the other five AI riders close by. What I found questionable is when one of the good AI riders had a considerable lead I would start to make a bead on them and they would slow down waiting for me to catch up. Lot of times it seemed like they were setting you up to kick you off your ATV but I just cruised right by without even a kick be performed by the opponent.
Two things I did not like about the racing were how the preloading was performed and the response of the buttons when tricks are performed. Tricks, which are a huge part of your Arcade career as well as needed in any type of race, can be extremely difficult to perform. The preloading is done with the R1 button. You hold it and then release, as you are ready to jump. Once in the air you then can perform a trick. Combinations of single or multiple buttons and a direction perform the tricks. I found though that the button presses need to be exact. If they are not simultaneous you will not perform the trick. So there is no holding the direction and then pushing the appropriate button, you must center your analog and then perform the trick. If you push a button first you perform the action of the button. Not only can timing the trick be frustrating but also holding the R1 to preload is as well. I sorely missed the analog preload and ease of trick performing of ATV Offroad Fury right away. The funny thing about the tricks is when you push the combination correctly and actually get the trick to perform your ATV is moving in the direction that you pushed for the trick. If I am pushing up and square my ATV starts to nose dive towards the ground. So now I have to try and get my rider reset to land as well as adjust for the trick. IF you are trying to do multiple tricks in the air you can almost end up facing the wrong way, as you are ready to land. If when I hit the trick combination correctly and my brake lights didn’t come on because I push square why am I nose diving when I push up for the same trick? Very frustrating. As important as performing tricks can be this frustration can cause you to become very disinterested in the game.
As you perform tricks you earn a speed boost, which is why when they don’t perform you can become frustrated. When the speed boost is used you get the effects similar to those of Burnout where the screen is made to look like you are increasing your speed at a fast rate, with the longer the boost the more in-depth the effect. You also can steal other riders’ current accumulation of boost by knocking them off their ATV.
Finding your way around the track is rather simple. There is an arrow on the top of the screen that shows the direction you need to be heading. On the side of the screen is a line that represents where you are in relation to checkpoints and other racers. There is not a track map on the screen nor could I find a way to have shown the time behind the leader. Blind corners are going to be just that, so without a track map you may be in for many surprises and with some of the tracks having places corners that resemble one another this can add a slight challenge to the race.
I noticed some graphical glitches and/or collision problems at least once a race. I saw sun glare coming through what was a wall, I went through a railing on a bridge and ended up in the swamp, and I also had one interesting problem where after a crash I was ready to move and found out I was stuck on a raised section of the bridge. As soon as I tried to reverse I ended out reappearing a few feet to the left of me in shallow water below. As soon as I tried to move I started spinning in mud, so I reversed back into the shallow water and my rider fell off the back of my ATV and I restarted back on the deck. After fighting with this situation, this is how I found out that if you didn’t finish in a set amount of time after the leader you had to restart you career race.
ATV Quad Power Racing 2 is a game that cries, make me better. The racing can be good, the depth is fine, but the overall execution of the game makes the user feel like they have been shortchanged. Interestingly enough this seems to be the feel of a lot of recent Acclaim releases. So many positives, but the negatives take the fun factor from a good level down to a semi-annoying level. I’d be interested in finding out exactly how Acclaim tests their products. To me if they had some serious gamers testing their products I would believe this release could have had a lot more potential.