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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: July 16, 2001
While the British company Rage is known for fast arcade action, associating England with the rowdy redneck mentality would be a major stretch. However, when the decision was made to publish its off-road racing title through Interplay, with the company’s successful Redneck Rampage franchise, somehow the product of this marriage in the topsy-turvy computer gaming world ended up being Off-Road Redneck Racing. Taking on such venerable competitors as Infogrames’ now defunct Test Drive Off-Road series and Wizardworks’ still ongoing Dirt Track Racing series, Off-Road Redneck Racing allows players to experience the freedom of driving rugged vehicles on unpaved roads in hillbilly country. But can this odd union of developer-publisher elements work?
There are 24 tracks situated within six different environments. The themes are not the most distinctive in the world, with lots of similar dirt paths, canyons, hills, rocks, and trees. My favorite is a truly vertical fast course named Dead Man’s Drop, right down of the side of a mountain; I haven’t seen a course like this since Take 2 Interactive’s Thrust, Twist & Turn. Even though one track in each of the environments is initially open, you have to make your way through the championship competition to unlock them all. The track design is generally proficient, with numerous shortcuts and lots of interesting interactive objects such as crates, boxes, barrels, and road cones as you pass by. User-selectable snow, rain, and night darkness can magnify the challenge of the driving experience.
To race on these tracks you have 16 different vehicles available. The bulk of them are standard varieties of imaginary souped-up sports utility vehicles. Like the tracks, progressing through the championship will unlock new vehicles, as only four are available at the outset in challenge mode. While each possesses distinctive performance characteristics, it is unfortunate that as with the tracks, the vehicles are not all that different in other ways; and aside from color you cannot personalize any of them very much. Regardless of the model you are driving, you can accelerate faster with nitro boosts to catch your competitors, but because of its limited supply you need to be judicious rather than indiscriminate in relying on this crutch.
There are three single-player driving modes: cross-country championship, single race challenge, and time trial. Championship mode is the central driving option, and it has you compete in a series of different races with the ultimate goal of advancing through all four tiers of competition and winning the championship. If you are successful enough as a racer, you advance to higher divisions, receive invitations to join new racing teams, and of course, unlock new cars and tracks. In the challenge mode, you may practice on any unlocked track and compete against up to five computer opponents of varying skill levels for up to three laps. If you wish to drive alone, you may race against the clock in time trial mode. This choice of modes is rather narrow and mundane, without any special redneck racing options as one might have expected.
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