At first glance, Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX looked to be something that would appeal to me. After having much fun many decades ago with the likes of Super Sprint and Super Off Road, I assumed that Off Road DX would bring back some of those memories, make the most of the years that have gone by and drop onto Xbox One with a bit of a technological bang.
I couldn’t be more wrong.
Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX by EnjoyUp Games sees you race around a number of lump and bump filled tracks with one sole aim in mind…cross the finish line first and become the victor. With seven other racers all competing for the same top spot, racing should be rough, frantic and above all else fun.
Unfortunately it’s not. Not at all!
With four game modes in place; Championship, Time Trial, Multiplayer and Training, you would think that there would be something to grasp onto, but the tiny visuals, monotonous drone of car engines and lack of any form of acknowledgement or sense of achievement should you win or lose ensures that the last place you want to be with your Xbox One is on an off road circuit.
Taking part in a single player Championship sees you get the pick of five different cups; the North America Cup, Europe Cup, Asia Cup, Africa Cup and South America Cup and one of five vehicles. Each comes complete with four tracks to earn the most points on, with the victor of each race earning the most and the scoring moving down a notch until the last placed guy (or those who never actually finish) ends up with little or nothing in the points stakes. To win the Championship, you’ll need to have picked up the most points at the end of the four races. If you do, you get treated to a very basic credits screen and joyfully unlock the next Cup and slightly faster vehicle. Rinsing and repeating further tournaments in order to acquire a few achievements and partake in very little fun is about all that’s then left on the agenda. If you don’t win it, then you are forever cast as a failure and you’ll need to start again. Oh joy!
There is one way of getting out of the boredom of the Championship though and that is by checking out the other solo mode that is available; the Time Trials section. This works exactly the same as the Championship mode but sees you take to the track alone, away from all the pesky other vehicles. Trying to beat a combined time over four tracks is relatively simple and placing on the online leaderboard is a nice touch, but the real draw in the Time Trials only really appeals to those achievement hunters out there who wish to nab a few more Gamerscore by beating a time set by EnjoyUp. If you’re not one of those, then much like the first mode mentioned, you’ll be looking to end your time rather quickly.
Played out in a top down manner, admittedly the tracks that have been included are fairly well created – although to say there are a load of them is a bit of a lie. With eight different variations in play, all that changes in order to fulfill the criteria of 24 unique tracks is that we see the jumps and bumps moved to slightly different areas and a different flag flying at half mast to signify a ‘change of country’. It’s a shame, because more tracks could have possibly mixed things up a little better.
What is in place though will require some careful stick control. It’s not possible to just stick your foot on the pedal and cane it round the corners at high speed and you’ll have to at least attempt to hit each jump consistently in order to keep your little car pointing the right way. I say attempt, because the fact of the matter is that no matter how fast you go, or how carefully you try and navigate your way round the winding courses, if Off Road DX wants to see your vehicle fly off into the air, spinning as it does so then there’s not an awful lot you can do about it. Realistic physics are meant to be in place but I believe that this game and those words are so far apart that it’s all a bit of a joke. A super twitchy steering model and slow reverse means that trouble will be coming your way more often than not. When it does, you’ll be in a whole world of pain.
But not only that, get tapped or smashed to kingdom come by any of the opposing racers and you’ll again find yourself spinning out of control, no doubt heading for a little time spent trying to work your way loose from the nearest barrier. With short lap times in place, even the smallest hit will put a huge dampener on your ambitions of winning the Championship or Time Trial you are partaking in.
Well, it would do if it weren’t for the apalling AI that controls the other racers, because with Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX, anything is possible.
From one race to the next, hell no, from one second to the next, the AI is unpredictable and rather clueless. Many a time have I seen a huge crash at the first turn end up with a mangled mess of cars all attempting to reverse, turn and accelerate their way out of trouble, only to be quickly hit again by another car trying to do the exact same thing. At times, it’ll take them a couple of laps to sort things out, others, they’ll just seemingly give up and sit prone in the middle of the track…until they get their wits about them five minutes later and decide it’s probably best to keep on moving. Barriers are also a huge issue for some of the AI drivers, with them taking it upon themselves to try and drive over and through the tire wall without a care in the world. It never works though and is rather hilarious (and at the same time, sad) that they’ll continue attempting to cross a wall with no joy. Races can quickly turn into a bit of a mess and aside from a small number above your car as you cross the finish line, there is no way of telling exactly who is in the lead, who is being lapped and who has basically given up on life.
There is one saving grace for Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX and that comes in the form of the multiplayer. As is the case with many of these small indie titles which hit the Xbox One Games Store, there is no online multiplayer in place, leaving all the fun of the circus down to local players only. If you can grab seven friends (and indeed have seven spare controllers), then I’d hazard a guess that Off Road is a good fun party game…as long as it isn’t taken too seriously. Unfortunately, not only do I not have seven spare controllers, but I would seriously struggle to round up seven of my nearest and dearest in order to give the eight player sessions a go. Four players is about my maximum and to be fair, hacking it around the circuits, smashing the hell of out each other is pretty good fun. Much more fun than going it alone anyways.
You may remember I mentioned four game modes at the start of this review and have only so far spoke of three. Well that’s for good reason. ‘Training’ does exactly what it says on the tin; you get to hit a spare bit of dirt in any of the five vehicles you wish to…driving round in circles until you get bored, fall asleep or have drunk enough alcohol for you to actually find Off Road DX slightly fun. Why the training mode has been included I’ll never know as it’s quite possibly the most pointless addition to any Xbox One game I have played this year. Or last.
By all means pick up Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX if you and some mates get together and fancy spending a quid each, otherwise you’ll find no enjoyment in this latest indie racer. It’s just a shame that the single player side is so god-damn poor that I’ve barely raised a smile throughout.