ATV Off Road Fury 3
So weíve been merry all night. Started off in a town 4 miles from here, drinking Theakston Ale and eating huge pieces of steak with mountains of chips, moving back into town to crawl around a few pubs drinking Guinness and catching up with the locals before stumbling into mine house and collapsing in front of the TV. The bacon butties are ready, thereís a pizza in the oven and half a bottle of vodka in the fridge. Then one of us fellow drunks spots the PS2 trying to hide behind a pile of unsorted DVDís, demoís and various promo disks; we played Mashed to death a few nights back, and needed something fresh. ATV Off Road Fury 3 is in the drive, thereís a multi-tap already plugged in and 3 more controllers kicking about somewhere in the vicinity. Letís rock Ďní roll.
Yeah, let’s burn rubber!
So many times, perhaps too many, have I reviewed a game with an aching hangover, trying to recapture the events of the previous night when me and drunk mates played a game to death and analysed the gameplay mechanics right down to the precise details, had lengthy slurred debates about how the graphics arenít as good as that other one we played at that wedding a few months back and challenged the game with our bad styles of play. It must have been a nightmare for the console, almost like a taxi driver trying to escort home a party of drunks who insist on talking about the most mundane of things at the top of their lungs.
The racing went fine; the first few laps had us still talking about the night out, sitting back and over-running corners on the circuit. Give it a few more minutes however and all of us were captivated, sitting mere inches from the screen, trying to cut corners and outwit each other. It was after weíd raced through a few courses and had a feel for the game that we found the fun of jumping on the bikes; lean back gently when going up a ramp and then lean forward right on the lip to spring up and give yourself those vital few seconds more to do all things trickery. This then descended into us tying to land on each other as the race went on Ė nothing was as hilarious as a guy racing along as normal, only to have a bike slowly sweep down on top of him out of nowhere like Eddie The Eagle, thus knocking him off the bike and putting him out of the race. Revenge played a huge part.
Wahoo! These games are great when you’re a bit drunk.
The fact of the matter is, when playing games drunk you tend to overlook the fairly geeky responses to anti-aliasing graphics and corny storylines in exchange to have fun. Thereís a certain something about ATV 3 that captivates the player, in the way that when coming to a jump they lean back in their chair as well as bringing the thumbstick back before almost leaping forward at the lip of the jump to give the computer that extra oomph. Itís all bollocks of course, your physical actions canít affect whatís on the screen, but Iíll defy anyone who plays this game and doesnít start leaning into corners and rocking backwards and forwards. ATV Off Road Fury 3 is great fun.
As a single player game the fun factor is reduced somewhat. Thereís just simple racing against the computer where you try and outwit them to unlock more races, tracks, bikes and apparel, pulling off tricks and stunts along the way. The championship mode will keep people hooked for a little while, although to be honest I donít know that many people (in fact, I donít know anyone) that is interested in motor sport, but itís the multiplayer on offer which makes ATV such a blast to play. And the best thing is, you donít need friends, ale, vodka, pizza and bacon butties to have fun, because thereís internet play available so drunks here in the UK can play drunks from the US or Europe. Right on! 4 players can bash it out together in one room, but online caters for 6 ATVís to battle it out on any of the 40 circuits available.
Looking a bit overcast…
I say circuits, I mean courses, because I found ATV 3 to be much like Sled Storm on the PS One (another multiplayer must have). Thereís ready-built in door and out door arenas with spectator stands and clear tracks, and then you have the proper outdoor stuff which has gamers riding through nature reserves, up mountains and through forests, which brings ample more opportunities to crash, what with treeís, bushes and signs all getting in the way. The collisions seem to vary regularly between realistic and unrealistic, by the way that sliding round a corner and hitting the throttle a bit too quick can sometimes cause you to spin out, though I very much doubt that sliding gently into tyres backwards would cause a rider to fall off so dramatically. Then again, Iím just playing at Wetlands Preserve, at the end of which is a bridge with a slight ramp at the end. Naturally, Iíve just jumped off the end and was pleased to see my rider actually crash into the star/finish banner and fall down rather than glide through it. Ok, he may has smashed his teeth out and snapped his neck in half, but itís made of metal for godís sake.
Now that just looks dangerous.
Graphically, ATV has its pretty moments. Environment, buildings and signs all look enriched, sturdy and full of life, but boy is that track dull! Thereís just a bland colour brown with some streaky lines running through it, which goes white at the edges before joining into the green bits that I presume are grass. You canít see bumps in the track, because there arenít any, and thereís a distinct lack of detail to surface water, which seems to be a radioactive green. Driving through it slows you down, of course, and hampers steering but produces a lame cloud instead of huge splashes and ripples. Thereís a distinct lack of mud flying and covering bikes and drivers, and I donít like that. I want messy fun. Vibration is also a major let down; anyone thatís had a ride on a quad bike will acknowledge that you feel almost every bump Ė not here. I did wonder at one point whether I had the function turned on. Getting big air off a ramp and crashing down again brings a sulky slight movement in the controller, and thereís nothing to be felt when riding full tilt over the landscape. If you werenít looking at the screen when playing youíd never guess this was a game with quad bikes.
Even a bit of lense flair thrown in for good measure.
Sound isnít much better, with a few random roars of the engine which then take backseat to an annoying high-pitched engine sounds, rather like that of a crap scooter or mosquito. Ripping through water or mud doesnít sound convincing, crashing is a mere thud and the driver sounds like he just had his guts ripped out when being thrown from the bike. That said, the music is quite good, with the usual mix of heavy rock and indie to really emphasise that ATV racing is about speed and muscle.
ATV Off Road Fury 3 is one of those titles that should have been swept under the carpet weeks ago and lost forever, and if it wasnít for a solid multiplayer mode then thereís not much doubt that it would have. As it happens, lob an Ethernet cable in the back of the console or bring home some mates from the pub and this is one of the best experiences youíll encounter. Thereís isnít much realism, most of the graphics and attention to detail are poor and you wonít be feeling the wind rush through your hair anytime soon, but for sheer multiplayer fun you could do a lot worse than give this a go.
Seven out of ten