Nearly a year
ago I reviewed the
Xbox version of 4x4 EVO 2, and derided it back then for
it's sloppy physics, poor camera angles, and terrible A.I.
Nearly a full year later the game has arrived on GameCube, and
unfortunately it does so in almost exactly the same condition.
Like the Xbox
version, the primary part of this game is the Career Mode. Here the
player starts out with $100,000, which they must use to go out and
purchase a vehicle and parts to upgrade it with. This is thankfully
up from the $30,000 provided in the Xbox version, which proved to be
barely enough to get started with. Once a vehicle has been
purchased, the player then participates in a variety of series,
qualifying events, and missions to earn additional money to upgrade
and buy new cars with. Like the Xbox version, there are over 30
tracks to race on including four exclusive to the GameCube version.
There are also four exclusive GameCube race trucks, although the
overall number of available vehicles seems to have been reduced by
almost 40 (from 120+ to 80+) for some reason (disk space?).
modes include Quick Race, Hot Lap, Multiplayer, and Free Roam. Quick
Race allows the player to race any track with as many as 20 laps and
5 different opponents. Hot Lap has the player trying to get the
fastest lap time possible, including obligatory ghost trucks to race
against. Free Roam is exactly as it sounds Ė no time limits,
checkpoints, or opponents. This is designed for those who enjoy just
driving through the countryside or seeking out secrets hidden in
each level. Finally Multiplayer again only supports up to two
players in this version as well, which is the same as the Xbox
Like the Xbox
version though, the game falls apart once the actual racing begins.
In fact, all of the same problems with that game are present here as
well. The racing itself is hampered by the facts that youíre
racing 4x4s, the opponent AI, the camera system, and the lack of a
damage model. Since you are racing 4x4s, the action typically isnít
as fast-paced as what youíll find in other realistic racers. The
result is that there is no real sense of speed, although admittedly
a lot of people (not me though) will enjoy conquering the various
types of terrain. I'm not holding this against the game though,
since it'd be unfair to judge this game's speed versus something
like Wipeout or NASCAR.
The AI is
the primary problem here, as its way too aggressive. You would think
that in a racing game your opponents would actually be trying to win
the race. Instead, theyíll often specifically target the player
and bang on them, cut them off, etc. if you get in their way since
they take pre-determined paths. And since they do take
pre-determined paths, whenever one gets stuck on an obstacle the
others will usually pile up with them. I have yet to find an example
in this version as bad as the Xbox version's (where they would
literally line up in a row and then stay there for eternity), but
it's still terrible. Not only that, but the AI has a tremendous
ability to catch up to the rest of the pack after falling behind.
This tactic has been used in numerous games in the past (most
notoriously in Mario
Kart 64) to keep each race tight, but
the result is that upgrading your vehicle results in very little
reward until you get up to the highest upgrades. Even if your
vehicle is far superior to the rest of the competition, races will
stay close due to the catch-up AI.
system is still bad, but not as bad as it was before. There are
three different camera settings, including a first-person view, a
behind the car view, and an overhead view. None of these is really
ideal, as each has itís own problems. The first-person view is so
close to the ground and shows so much of the hood that itís often
impossible to see over small hills before youíre right upon them.
It does provide a better view than before, but not by much. The
chase camera, which should work the best, actually works the worst.
Not only does it lag behind whenever your vehicle is barreling down
a hill, but also for some bizarre reason itíll switch to a close
overhead view whenever you get stuck on an obstacle or youíre
going up a steep hill. Both of these result in the player not being
able to see where he/she is going, which will destroy any racing
game. I donít care what racing game youíre in, having most of
the screen taken up by your roof isnít a good thing either. The
overhead view is OK, but the playerís view of their vehicle is
often obscured by tree canopies in-between the camera and the
ground. Plus itís nearly impossible to discern small changes in
altitude (leading to getting stuck on something) from that distance.
As you can imagine, this inefficient camera system result in a lot
of frustration as the player fights it every single race.
lack of a damage model is particularly bad in this game because itís
off-road racing. Every object in the environment acts virtually the
same, so regardless of what you hit your vehicle will come to a dead
stop. Hit a fence? Dead stop. Barely nudge a boulder wrong? Dead
stop. Hit a tree? Dead stop. No bouncing off of objects, no
careening in a realistic manner, just a complete stop. Not only is
it frustrating to nudge something and come to a complete stop, itís
also unrealistic. Same thing with not having a damage model, as your
truck wonít get damaged regardless of how much punishment it
takes. It isnít necessary for a racer to have a damage model to be
a good game (particularly in an arcade racer), but in a game so
focused on realism the lack of one just seems out of place and
The graphics are
still as bad as they were on Xbox, but at least the draw-in isn't.
Make no mistake though, there's still a lot of it hereÖit's just
been improved slightly. Often times the environment will literally
draw in front of the player's eyes, and secondary details like
shrubs and trees fill in very close to the player. Truck models
still look good, but the environment is of mostly Dreamcast quality
with somewhat blurry textures, obvious seams, and not nearly as much
detail as in a game like Smuggler's
Run: Warzones. Warzones proved that the GameCube can
easily handle large environments without having to sacrifice graphic
quality too much, and 4x4 EVO 2 looks outdated by comparison.
are a mixed bag as well. The music is good enough, with the
country/rock tracks that youíd expect in this kind of game. Each
of these tracks sound OK, with only a couple of them becoming
annoying after extended play. The sound effects are decent, but not
memorable. Engine noises sound OK, as do the various environmental
effects scattered throughout each area. However, aside from the
music there isnít a lot of sound other than the constant whine of
your truckís engineÖincluding when your truck interacts with the
environment around it. Banging into different objects results in
virtually the same sound effect, if you're lucky enough to hear one
in the first place.
- A number of
real-world vehicles to choose from, each upgradeable with a
variety of different parts.
- Over 30
tracks, including four exclusive GameCube ones.
- Some minor
graphical enhancements over the Xbox version, although these
enhancements are really just "less bad stuff".
questionable A.I. that piles up on itself and sticks to a
- Lame physics,
as small boulders result in the same grinding halt as a big
- Almost a year
later and GameCube owners are getting essentially the same game?
What took them
so long? 4x4 EVO 2 arrives on the GameCube nearly a year
after the Xbox version, and yet the only difference is four
exclusive tracks and trucks and some other minimal graphic upgrades.
My guess is that the publisher switch caused the delay, because
Terminal Reality definitely didn't use the time to polish the game
more. It's still the same mediocre racing title as before, although
it's lucky enough to fill a sub-genre (Off-road truck racing) that
may warrant purchase among the hardcore.
Images (Xbox version):