RaceDrome Offroad Review [XBLIG]

Racedrome Offroad is out on XBLIG.  Does Rendercode Games have a hit on their hands?  Read the review to find out.

Racedrome Offroad, the latest game from Rendercode Games and is now available on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace.  RD Offroad is the third entry into the Racedrome series and is an indoor dirt track racer, but is it worth your time and money?

Every game has a strong point and presentation is it for RD Offroad, which is serves as a blessing and also a detriment.  From the onset RD Offroad has a clean design.  The menus design isn’t anything awe inspiring, but they are easy to navigate, which in the end is the most crucial characteristic.  The stadium has banners for Rendercode’s other titles and also boasts a titan-tron with real time race positions.  Like Rendercode’s other titles the inclusion of avatar support creates personalization for the game.  The vehicles can only be customized cosmetically, but it’s better than nothing right?  Post-race podiums are a nice touch and the in-game HUD is simple, but complete.  My only gripe with the presentation is the lack of variety with the stadium itself.  The tracks change, but nothing else, and that lack of diversity makes the game look drab after a while.

The controls in RD Offroad are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play which is good because most people are put off by racing games with intimidating control schemes.  The vehicles in the game handle pretty well, but in the context of an offroad racer I never felt that vulnerability in the handling.  A certain degree of looseness in the car’s handling would have added some depth to the gameplay, but its absence makes the driving feel generic.  Also the game lacks a sense of speed or intensity that really gives any racing game that added sense of satisfaction when playing.  The changes in topography also hinder the experience because the haphazard placement of bumps and jumps will land you off the track more often than you would like.  This obviously can be mitigated with more precise driving, but those who don’t take the time to invest in learning the intricacies of every track or those just trialing the game will likely be turned away.  There is nothing groundbreaking in terms of RD Offroad’s gameplay, but

Graphically RD Offroad is a solid looking indie game.  The vehicles look great, but the addition of suspension animations would have really elevated it to another level.  The stadium in which all the tracks are located is populated with bleachers filled with what I can only assume are hardcore offroad fans (every event is sold out).  The dirt effects while minimal are a great touch and add mild realism to the game.  The lighting and shadow effects are great and hold up well during races and too add mild amounts of realism.  I ran into some infrequent slowdown and a few collision detection issues, but nothing that marred the experience making the game unplayable.  There was also a weird graphical clip that also runs along the perimeter of the track when you are traversing it, but once again nothing too damaging.

The sound design in RD Offroad is perhaps its weakest attribute.  The inclusion of a good but limited soundtrack means that music will become repetitive very quickly.  The sound effects for the vehicles sound like a vacuum cleaner and that lack of tenacity dampens the experience audibly.  If you have ever been to an offroad event the roaring of the engines and the crunch of the suspension adds a visceral layer of immersion, that when absent is glaringly obvious.  What’s there isn’t bad, but the lack of variety in the sound department took me out of the experience.

RD Offroad has multiple modes ranging from single races to Xbox Live multiplayer.  Scoreboards will give some incentive to come back and race often to get higher leaderboard spots, but only if the support is there.  A friend’s scoreboard would have been a nice inclusion in addition to the local and global options.  There are tracks to be unlocked and the arcade mode will consume some of your time, but depending on XBL support this title will either sink or swim.  Split screen play is here, but only for two players.  It seems like a step back and once again could hurt the game if it doesn’t get the Xbox Live support to round out the multiplayer component.  Four person local multiplayer would be an awesome update for the title and maybe we will see it later on.  The amount of content in the game isn’t overly substantial, but you will get your money’s worth from it.

I know I had some issues with Racedrome Offroad, but don’t let me steer you wrong, it is a solid indie racing game experience for the price.  Is it for everyone, no, but if you like racing games it is definitely worth a trial.  Rendercode provided me with a code to give away to one lucky reader, so if you trial Racedrome Offroad and you like it, comment on the review and maybe you will be that lucky someone.

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