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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 450 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    8x CD-ROM

4x4 Evolution 2
March 11, 2002 | Eddie Park

Click to enlarge
Last week, a copy of Terminal Reality's latest racing effort, 4x4 Evo 2, arrived in my mailbox. Ported to the Mac by Gathering of Developers (GoD) and published by Aspyr Media, this game promised the latest and greatest in off-road racing, including a huge number of cars and plenty of tracks with which to tear it up. All of which didn't excite me in the least.

Let me say one thing right off the bat. I am not a racing fan, a driving fan, or even a car fan. My knowledge of automobiles extends to changing the oil, swapping a spare tire, and getting from point A to point B without mishap. That being said, I wasn't terribly thrilled with the prospect of reviewing this game.

You can imagine my surprise when, after putting 4x4 Evo 2 through its paces, I discovered a racing game with enough flexibility, creativity, and fun to charm even a non-racing game fan such as myself. What astounded me even more was that I was playing it on a computer of all things - my earlier mindset regulated that consoles were infinitely superior machines on which to play racing games.

But enough of the pre-review banter. For those unfamiliar with this title, Evo 2 is a racing game, with the usual objective of being the first to cross the finish line. However, instead of driving the usual assortment of bullet cars, Evo 2 puts would-be mud slingers behind the wheel of a 4x4 truck or SUV and subjects players to various off-road courses. And the great thing is, it works.

Ain't Nuthin Prettier Than a Mud-Splattered Windshield
Regardless of how a racing game plays, one of the impressions I get from racing fans is that looks matter. One only has to look at the current crop of racing games, including the almighty Gran Turismo 3, to realize that super-realistic graphics, complete with crazy lighting effects and slickjazz paintjobs, are the order of the day. Heck, some of these racing games even come with virtual dirt, which gives them the excuse to put in a "wash your car" option in their games.

Evo 2 definitely seems to follow this trend. This game is pretty. The environments are photorealistic, from dirt roads winding through a small countryside to a paved construction site, everything screams realism. Weather also plays a factor, with sunny days being considerably easier on the tires than rainy ones. My personal favorite stage is Farm Road 109, which features several railroad crossings, speed limit signs, and a crop duster that flies overhead.

The environments are also well animated and fairly interactive. As you plow down a dirt road, dust gets kicked up, particularly when grinding through a tough area. The aforementioned speed limit signs can be mowed down, and Farm Road 109 even includes a train that circles continuously around the tracks that can impede your progress by getting in your way. It was touches like this that really impressed me.

The cars themselves are also well detailed and well animated to the point of being photorealistic. A newly washed car will reflect the sun brightly off its new paint job, with the chassis bouncing crazily off the suspension as it pulls some serious off-roading. The replays in particular show off the realism quite well, and people walking by your monitor from afar may have to double check to make sure you're not watching the latest broadcast rally.


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