ATV Quad Power Racing 2 (PS2) - Jason Julier - 6/10
ATV Quad Power Racing 2 [game information] Version Tested: PAL Genre: Racing Publisher: Acclaim Developer: Acclaim
Whilst the majority missed out on the original ATV release, it proved successful enough for Acclaim to warrant a sequel. For the uninitiated ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 is another extreme sports release, but one that forges a link between extreme sport and arcade thrills. Quads are simply motorbikes on four wheels, but because of their balance and robust design, ATV 2 is more of an extreme rally than motocross or to put it another way: Wave Race on dry land.
Remarkably this is a thriving sport with its own leagues and professional riders – who said games weren’t educational? Therefore you can select from ten of the best professional ATV riders currently in existence, the only difference being purely visual. Acclaim is certainly responding to the gauntlet thrown down by Electronic Arts and beefing up the presentation of its releases, and ATV 2 is no different. The music is unfortunately of the redneck variety, and therefore contains no surprises – oh Mr Rollins how the mighty have fallen. Still, at least we have another release with a decent 60hz option.
ATV 2 offers a comprehensive selection of modes that cover every aspect from tricks to challenges and actual races. For beginners you have the ATV Academy which doubles as the main training mode by offering tasks and incentives for progress. The Single Race and Arcade modes are self explanatory, with Career offering the extended challenge. Adding to the fun element are Freestyle and Challenge, with the former relying obviously on tricks and the latter proving more imaginative with difficult towers and fun wheelies. As there are only around thirty tricks in the game, these play a minor role and are obviously limited. By placing the quad in a skateboard environment (Freestyle mode) just highlights this fact. Rounding off the comprehensive structure is a decent Versus mode and the practice run Time Trial option. Unfortunately there is no option to create your own extreme racer, which in this genre is an oversight.
Essentially what makes any form of racing enjoyable is not just the variety of tracks, but the control method, handling and vehicle response. The tracks in ATV 2 are certainly wacky and extreme: created in an attempt to test the quads and their drivers. You have seventeen tracks scattered across the world, each taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by local environments. My main gripe about every track I managed to experience was the actual length, as each was far too long. On a game such as Burnout, where obstacles and dangers (oncoming traffic) exist on every bend, you could never relax for a moment. ATV 2 suffers because apart from landing jumps and avoiding collisions with other riders, there is little else to occupy your mind. You will meet the occasional sharp corner, but the layout of each circuit fails to challenge your driving skills. The long circuits soon become devoid of challenge, and your only aim is to maintain your balance. Mario Kart managed to avoid such a fate by including dangers, but in ATV 2 I often felt like pulling over and enjoying the view.
If one thing detracts from the calmness whilst forging ahead, then it is the opposition AI, which can be unfair. Your rival riders always seem to come off best whenever there is a collision, which can be frustrating, especially on longer jumps where they are intent on dive bombing. You can get even by kicking rival riders off their vehicles with a well aimed kick, but it’s a hit or miss affair. Falling off your quad in most circumstances is punishable by immediately falling to the back of the field. A pattern soon emerges as the field splits itself into two distinct groups, with the bottom three riders providing only a passing distraction. Your selection of quad is very important on the later tracks where you require more speed and greater handling. The best models can only be opened through passing tests and achieving results in the other modes.
I’ve never driven a quad in real life but I would suspect that the handling would be responsive, and the event without a doubt hugely fun. The handling in ATV 2 is extremely rewarding and has that feeling, where you know you are in control. Driving has that satisfying chunky feeling, which is difficult to explain in actual written words, but thrusting yourself off tremendous inclines, followed by firm landings all adds up to a rewarding experience. The physics are well implemented in this regard, unforgiving but ultimately fair. Tarnishing the handling is the inclusion of a boost function, which I deemed unnecessary in the pursuit of victory. More than anything ATV 2 forgoes the trick laden aspect of other releases, yes, tricks do exist but more than anything its about finishing first – you can show off if you like. If you want to record the longest jump, or most freestyle points in a race then be my guest. Points and therefore progress in Career mode is achieved by crossing the finishing line first and not for artistic style.
Visually ATV 2 is a strong release, without ever being regarded as exceptional in any particular area, which is symptomatic of multi-format releases these days. Each of the course environments is well detailed, with enough variety to distract you from the constant jumps and corners. The frame rate is solid enough, as is the draw distance, however the water effects leave a lot to be desired when compared to the excellent lighting. If this was a first generation Playstation 2 release, then I’d be even more impressed, however the standard has risen considerably over time, and the graphics are only above average at best. With the loud American rock ringing in your ears, you have little chance to experience any ambient or sound effects, which perhaps is a good thing, given the lack of either.
ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 is a fun release, which offers a comprehensive selection of modes and challenges. It won’t turn any heads but with a friend or by yourself, you will find an enjoyable alternative to the serious racers currently flooding the market.
Game Score: 6/10 Reviewed By: Jason Julier