24th Nov2017

Digital Shorts: ‘Rock ’N Racing Off Road DX’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Matthew Smail

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Rock ’N Racing Off Road DX, another of the many indie games now making their way to the Nintendo Switch.

rock-n-racing-screen

Whilst there is nothing materially wrong with Rock ’N Racing Off Road DX (or just Rock ’N Racing from now on), it fails to capture the imagination in several ways, making it feel at times as if it was made in the most basic, cut and paste manner imaginable. It’s basically a clone of early top down racing games such as Super Off Road or even Micro Machines, but at best it barely matches them and at worst it fails to capture the same sense of nail-biting excitement.

There are some 24 tracks (split across regional championships) in Rock ’N Racing, but in all honesty I struggled to really differentiate many of them from one another. Flags are strategically placed to inform you that you’re in England, Spain or wherever, but that’s really only because you probably won’t notice the difference between countries based on the track orientation alone. There is a certainly clarity and punch to the graphics that is not entirely without merit, but only really when played in handheld mode – on the TV this game looks awful.

The vehicles, of which there are five, all handle in a similarly mundane way, with the only real difference being the turning circle which ranges from “quite bad” to “incredibly bad” based on the vehicle speed. The soundtrack (which I don’t suppose I should have expected much from) is the kind of abhorrent trash metal that actively discouraged me from playing for more than five or ten minutes at a time, whilst the engine noise, sound effects and very occasional voice are all OK, but never inspiring.

Perhaps the one saving grace for Rock ’N Racing (aside from the low price) is the inclusion of local multiplayer for up to four participants. This introduces the possibility of at least a few fleeting moments of enjoyable racing, which is certainly much less likely when facing off against the utterly incompetent AI, which can occasionally just stop in the middle of a race for no explainable reason. Playing with friends does invoke glimpses of the kind of fun that top down racing games have been known to achieve, but it usually wears thin pretty quickly due to the boring track and car selection.

All in all, I can’t recommend Rock ’N Racing Off Road DX because without putting too fine a point on it, it simply isn’t very good. It has an acceptable graphics engine let down by incredibly dull tracks and cars, with a bloody awful soundtrack. Most importantly though, the gameplay in either solo or multiplayer modes simply fails to capture the imagination, with solo play against the woeful AI a particular issue. Save up and buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe instead.

** 2/5

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