ATV Offroad Fury Pro

The last we saw of portable ATV racing, Sony was racing up a storm with the somewhat likable ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails, a launch title that surfaced a year and a half ago. Since that time, the game's dropped down in price to $20, making it a reasonable purchase for newcomers to the system and racing fans. But what about those who are craving something more, a racing experience that lets you taste the mud go up on your face and really see how crazy off-road racing can get? Well, buckle up, Sally, because you're about to go Pro with the second Offroad Fury game.

This time around, however, the action's not just limited to the happy-go-lucky three-wheelers. Oh, no. This time you have a number of different vehicles that you can race around in. The ATV's are back, but so are some new MX bikes, buggies, and Trophy trucks just begging to be taken around the track and taught a lesson in hydraulics. Each of these vehicles can be customized aplenty, and tuned around with so that the performance is right up your alley. Fortunately, the gameplay looks to be shaping up pretty well thus far, with a lot of the quirks taken from Trails and put to work here. For instance, to get air off of a jump, you have to do the whole "press down then press up quickly" motion. It's easier than you think.

The game has an abundant new amount of features going for it. Gamers can hook up the system to a PS2 and transfer information from their console version of ATV Offroad Fury 4; they can hop into a shared online community, accessing message boards and rankings as they challenge new players; they can engage in Wi-Fi battles with the local racing crowd; and then there's the single player mode, which looks stuffed to the gills with features.

How stuffed? Well, there's some excellent new mini-games featured here, including a card battle game, rings of fire, pool, and many more; there's also various racing modes, including the all new Endurocross and Rallycross modes, as well as traditional ones such as Circuit, Rally, Championship and Lap Attack; and you can keep track of your progress and gain access to hidden goodies, which should more than keep you playing as you go along.

The gameplay's not too bad thus far. I'm still trying to get a hang on the trick system, and I'm not sure if the game still needed a "thrill cam" view, unless you're feeling risky and trust what you see in the road ahead. The music is pretty standard, but the graphic engine looks to be even smoother than Trails, with a number of diverse track designs, a solid frame rate, cool rider animations, and so much more. The object interaction has been improved as well, with tires, ramps, and cones getting knocked all over the place. Of course, the physics of your bike are still accurate, so you could still be an accident waiting to happen.

ATV Offroad Fury Pro looks to be one of those rare sequels that outshines the original in every way shape or form. The online set-up sounds intriguing; the single-player mode is firmly stacked; and the presentation, while nothing incredibly original, seems in order. We'll be back with a full review of the game once it arrives later this month. Buckle up, Nancy. Yeah, that's right, I called you Nancy. Well, OK, not all of you...