Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 11/14/01 | Genre: Driving
The launch of the Xbox brought several titles along with it, and unfortunately for most of us, one of those titles is 4x4 Evolution 2 brought to us by GOD Games and Terminal Reality. I wasn't a big fan of the first one, and the same goes for this one. I don't even know why it's called 4x4 Evolution, half the vehicles in the game are only 2wd.
If there's something to be said for this game, it's that it does not cheat you on your options. There are several real-life manufacturers in the game which results in over one hundred vehicles that you may purchase. In addition to this, there are several game modes including Career, Time Attack, Free Roam, and Quick Race. You'll probably spend most of your time in career mode where you race a vast number of circuits and earn money with each finish. You can use your prize money to buy a brand new offroad powerhouse, or upgrade your current vehicle to make you a contender. You may also take part in several offroad missions to earn a few extra bucks if the racing becomes to tedious. As you race and build up your reputation, you can soon get sponsered and join a team. However, if you start to fall in the standings or race in another company's truck, you won't be sponsored for very long.
The other game modes are pretty self-explanatory. Time Attack challenges you to zip through a track as fast as you can in order to break the track record. Free Roam obviously allows to cruise a course at your leisure and check the scenery if you wish to do so. Quick Race lets you dive in head-first and get racing immediately.
The graphics in this game are pretty good for the most part. The vehicles look great and they even gather dirt and mud after racing. You can then take your truck in for a wash and have it come out looking like new. The environments are where things get a little iffy. Sure, the tracks are huge and most of them are fairly detailed and look beautiful, but the land is sometimes downright boring, almost making you wish for another five minute load screen... almost.
The sound in Evo is composed mostly of engines revving up and tires crunching over the ground, which actually sounds pretty cool. The background music is pretty unnoticeable and while you may have been hoping for something to rock out with, at least be happy that it doesn't flat out suck.
Unfortunately, this game suffers from quite a bit of annoyances that add up to become big problems. First and foremost is the incredibly cheap AI. You'll see the computer controlled trucks making identical mistakes, and getting in the lead at first isn't too difficult. However, once you gain the lead, the CPU trucks seem to race flawlessy and give you a real run for your money, and it doesn't matter how much you spend upgrading your truck. Also, you'd think that shortcuts would be cool little secrets that you can find on your own and leave everyone else in the dust, but this is just not the case. Usually, the only way you'll find a shortcut is if you follow a CPU controlled truck right to it. That's right, the computer trucks will use these same shortcuts, basically making them a necessity rather than an extra. There are a few luxury shortcuts that the computer won't attempt, but there's just not enough of them. The physics in the game also seem to fluctuate frequently. Sometimes, you can nail a large boulder and keep on cruising just fine, but other times, you may become stuck on a tree or post the size of a toothpick, and seemingly no amount of reversing and pulling forward will let you escape from the clutches of crappy game design. Even the wrecks are lame in this game; most of the time they're slow and clunky rather than fast and vicious. Another complaint I have is the extremely long load screens. While the above "5 minutes" may be pushing it, they are still unforgivably long.
Despite its problems, 4x4 Evo 2 will undoubtedly please fans of the first game and perhaps bring in a few new players as well. While most gamers should probably pass on this one, if you are going to play it, then please don't use the automatic transmission. If you take away the manual shifting of gears, then you've taken away nearly all of the strategy involved in this game; seriously, you're only cheating yourself.