Review: OVERPASS (PS4)

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Grandma needs to move to a place less hard to get to…

overpass ps4There are a couple of ways to play Zordix Racing’s super challenging and very (very) methodical off-road game OVERPASS ($59.99). You can go into all the tutorials and learn the ropes, failing and retrying as you go, then hit the Career Mode’s many racing events in a few ways, earning sponsors, a team to manage along with race-earned cash to repair rides and purchase plenty of gear and upgrades. You can just hop into Quick Race, Custom Race, or hotseat-based Multiplayer and play on an assortment of tracks with any ride, learning as you play. Or, you can just mix in all the game modes and get an extreme and extremely lengthy experience that’s part driving sim and part puzzle game where you’ll need to successfully navigate some deviously designed courses that will test your skills and patience.

The game could use some patching to fix a few bugs with the physics and free up camera control (holding R3 down to look around is a pain), but even still, a warning comes for casual players: it’s definitely not for everyone, especially those expecting something purely arcade-like. This definitely isn’t a Motorstorm or Baja: Edge of Control despite its announcer’s twangy voice and a bit of genetic soundtrack action. When you approach the game from a simulation aspect, it’s a lot more enjoyable, although as they say, your mileage may vary when all is said and done. There’s definitely a LOT of game here for that money, although the day one DLC might be a bit of a pesky bit of business for some players resistant to that sort of thing.

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“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

 

Of the two disciplines, the assorted buggies are the most fun to drive here, especially once you get a few upgrades and start fiddling with crafting the fastest and better handling rides. You’ll need to try and damage your rides as little as possible in Career, as repairs stack up and get costly, affecting performance to often great degrees if you don’t repair. Quads are a totally difficult thing to get used to throughout as you need to control the driver as much as the vehicle here, adjusting his or her body on the fly lest you go tumbling down a slope or over a steep hill. The unforgiving nature of the physics here means you’ll feel as if a stiff wind could send your driver flying off that ride, but they’ll fall off before the wind starts blowing anyway. This is clearly NOT a game about stunts and flashy moves and it doesn’t pretend to be. Add in the manual transmission options if you like, and parts of the game get really teeth-gnashing even when you get better at them.

 

While the game doesn’t do anything special with its lengthy Career Mode or let you race against other live players (with its physics system, you’d barely make it a lap if you had players maliciously trying to wreck you), there’s a sort of focused intensity here that rarely lets up. That said, being tense in every event until you finish hopefully in the money can be frustrating. Jumping back and forth between Quick Race and Career Mode helped for me, as some of the faster and bouncier rides in the former mode required some deft handling, which learning a bit of helped out in the latter mode.  I actually didn’t mind one thing others may gripe about: The lack of music and crowd noises (and well, any crowd at all) while racing was actually good for concentrating on the tracks filled with all manner of bumps and hazards. Just listening to the engine sounds and working gas, brake, 2WD, 2WD, and differential lock controls (the latter which are only for the buggies) while getting a feel for the game was actually kind of oddly relaxing in shorter play sessions.

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Visuals are pretty well done overall, particularly in the attention to detail in the vehicles and how things get muddy and otherwise filthy as your make your way through the maps. Performance-wise, you get a decent 30fps overall, but I know that some would prefer 60 in their racers even though the game is more about control over raw speed. A patch to fix up a few things would be wonderful, although I’m gathering the strict penalty system for breaking though barriers or otherwise screwing up challenges will stay in. The game penalizes every mistake you make even if it’s not all your fault. So things like inertia-based penalties when you slide into a barrier because you braked a millisecond too late or falling off a quad mid-challenge and failing because of it will likely stay in. I’d like to see the riders not go sailing off a quad so much, though. Stopping at the crest of a hill to see how steep it gets on the way down or slowing to take a curve only to go tumbling off (among many other spills) can be bothersome.

Yes, it’s a tough game and absolutely, it needs a few fixes (such as wheel support for those who want it), but I liked most of the time I spent playing. A game like this will find an audience over a period of time, I think, rather than earn one out of the gate even though at first glance, it seems as it would appeal to broader tastes. While I can’t fault it for doing things in its own way, much like Spintires before it, my best advice is to approach the game like you would a steep hill or twisty section on one of its courses: carefully and with intent to see it through to the end. You’ll enjoy the ride a lot more when you know what you’re getting into.

Score: C+ (75)

-GW

-Review code provided by the publisher

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