Most racing games are based on the diversity of tracks, depth of gameplay, and the amount of cars that can be chosen from for any given race. Ford Racing doesn’t have this problem, mainly because it only has vehicles made by Ford, also because said vehicles are only the ones recommended for Off-Road driving. Added on the top of this problem are many others that make Ford: Racing: Off-Road never really jell as an experience.
The lack of a diverse amount of cars can cripple any racing game. So when Ford’s game only has a small handful of selectable cars, less in total than many racing games have to start, it makes this (at best) middle of the road racing game fall flat. Instead of finding interesting ways around the lack of cars currently produced for Off-Road action, like going back through the vaults and using the company’s impressive backlog, or pulling out zany future concept cars, Ford simply puts forward what it currently has.
This may have been able to have been overlooked if the game played well which it does not. The earlier tracks in the game, and many sections of the later ones, never require the player to break or slow down for any length of time. In these tracks, every single corner can be taken at full speed. This also compounds the ill defined damage system of the game as most of the corners that can’t be made at full speed pose little punishment for driving straight into them.
The damage system doesn’t really seem to do anything when the car is fully damage. All tracks seem to have repair kits generously throw about to repair cars during the race, and a fully damaged car doesn’t perform any differently, aside from the black smoke coming out of the back. The one instance that damage seems to make a difference is in race mode, which requires the player to come in first and with a car under a certain percentage of damage done to it. It should be noted that coming in first is almost never a challenge.
The race modes themselves are one of the games more diverse assets. Only a few events, every now and then, are normal race events. Most of them involve some kind of wacky objective, normally revolving around collecting things, based system. One positive, there seem to be many of these events; the negative is that none of them are any fun. One such event makes the player collect cash strewn about the course to a certain point, which just happens to be the amount of the pot for winning the match. If more money is collected during the race, it isn’t rewarded. This seems to be par for the course as most of the games never reward any amount of effort past the bare minimum.
When I first installed Ford: Racing: Off-Road the short-cut icon on my desktop to launch the game didn’t work. It then proceeded to never work for the entirety of the time that I had the game installed. Whenever I would click on the icon it would inform me that I should probably reinstall the game again. If I went to the directory that the game was installed in and launched it from there, the game worked. The same was true if I launched it from the DVD-Rom drive. That one little icon never seemed to work. While this wasn’t the only very basic technical problem that I had with the game it was the most pronounced.
Another interesting point is that the graphics of the game, while fully supporting 1680×1050, never really looked that good. Most of the time they looked roughly around Playstation 2 era, but only if they had been up unconverted for a Playstation 3 game. While they may have sharper edges, and some of the surfaces, manage to reflect the world around them, somewhat, they never really look any better than something that was being pushed out years ago.
The game also never really manages to be difficult. The only time that any challenge is presented is during some of the more obscure events. These mainly consist of winning the race under a certain condition, such as damaging the car under a certain amount, as well as coming in first place. It isn’t that these races are ever hard, just that they can be rather annoying as the brainless AI cars will randomly be going at half speed in front of an object that only the player seems obligated to collect.
Ford: Racing: Off-Road is probably not a game that anyone is going to run out and get, and that is for a very good reason. It should probably be a prize that is handed out for either eating an entire box of cereal or test driving a Jeep. Both of those things involve the amount of money that should be accepted, by anyone, for this game. While the game never really breaks, unless Alt-Tab’ed out of, that is probably the highest form of compliment that can be given. It just isn’t that great.