“Officially endorsed by Leonard and Bubba”
I don’t know about you but when I first heard that tagline, I assumed Off-Road Redneck Racing was inspired by the crude first-person shooter franchise, Redneck Rampage. Boy was I in for a surprise. Off-Road Redneck Racing is a serious, off-road racing game that features a detailed physics model and insanely difficult computer opponents. A hilarious romp through redneck country it is not. A fun arcade-style racing game? Let’s find out.
The first thing you’ll notice out of the starting blocks are the visuals. With a resume that includes the likes of Expendable, Incoming, Rage Rally and Hostile Waters, UK-based developer Rage Software is no stranger to cutting-edge technology. Off-Road Redneck Racing is easily one of the best looking off-road racing games thus far. Weather effects are terrific, particularly during storms when lightning flashes through the sky, striking down onto the racetrack. Leaves and dust kick up and when you drive through a puddle, water splashes around. The texture quality is first-rate, creating highly detailed objects, environments and vehicles. Unfortunately, the frame rate can become a little unstable at times and the drawing distance is a little shallow during night races.
Off-Road Redneck Racing offers the usual assortment of racing modes. The time trial mode lets you race against the clock while the challenge mode allows you to race against any number of computer opponents, of varying skill levels, on the track of your choice. The meat of Off-Road Redneck Racing lies in the driver’s championship. In this mode, you compete in a series of races with the ultimate goal of advancing through all four tiers of competition and winning the championship. The more successful you are, the more likely you’ll be asked to join new racing teams, earn upgrades and unlock new cars, tracks and sub-games. There’s also a split-screen mode for two player races as well as a LAN mode for up to six players.
Off-Road Redneck Racing serves up twenty-four tracks of racing mayhem, set within six different environments, which basically means there are four tracks per environment. The tracks are all very well designed, each inhabited with an assortment of objects and obstacles. And so we happen upon the physics model, which is best described as inconsistent. The high points include a solid suspension system and a noticeable difference when driving on sand, mud or road. The low points include a collision detection system that seems to be slightly off and a non-existent damage model that allows you to run into an embankment at any speed without worrying about how you’re going to pay for damages. The result is a game that treads the line between hardcore and arcade off-road racing. In the end, I think Rage Software would have been better off choosing one style or the other.
Off-Road Redneck Racing can be quite enjoyable in split-screen mode, or in time trial mode, but the driver’s championship mode is incredibly frustrating. Although it’s commonplace to mix veteran and rookie drivers into a racing game, Redneck Racing takes it to the extreme. The top drivers are almost impossible to beat because they constantly cheat to keep ahead of you. Even if you use a nitro boost to propel yourself into the lead, you’ll quickly find an opponent or two riding alongside you, if not in front of you. A couple of bad turns and you’re guaranteed to finish well behind the pack. You have to race flawlessly at times to finish first, which makes the first couple of tiers extremely frustrating to advance through, since you aren’t exactly equipped with an off-road monster.
I came away from Off-Road Redneck Racing a little confused. I expected a lighthearted arcade ride featuring the usual cast of stereotypical redneck characters. Instead, I got a game that didn’t seem to know which road it wanted to take. The detailed physics model seemed to point to a serious racing experience, but the lack of a damage model proved otherwise. The visuals are clearly top-of-the-line, but the driver’s championship mode is frustrating to advance through. Off-Road Redneck Racing is available at a budget price, but with all the bumps in the road, it's simply a mediocre ride.