Beautiful cars, lots of speed, spectacular action and spectacle everywhere!
These are not terms that describe Overpass. You obviously want to cross the finish line as quickly as possible, but you can't achieve this with speed. To use the legendary (albeit Cruijffian) words of Juan Manuel Fangio: "To finish first, you first have to finish." And therein lies the challenge, reaching the finish line. You don't drive on beautiful circuits or clear off-road routes like in WRC or Dirt. Piles of tires, tree trunks, mud puddles and large stones, that is the surface you are on, and you do not go over it at 130 km per hour.
Last year we talked about Overpass for a while after our experiences at Gamescom. Developer Zordix proudly showed us their first big project. We were allowed to play two courses, one with an extreme off-road track with obstacles and a so-called hill climb. We got a nice explanation about how it works and even managed to surprise the developer once or twice.
Pain is nice
Now that we have been able to play all the courses, we have found out what a challenge this game is. The obstacle courses are easy to do, you drive a few laps and every few meters you encounter an obstacle. Perhaps a bit easy to say, but if you make the comparison with the 'real' routes, completely justified. You will have to deal with the largest rocks and deepest mud puddles. You get stuck, tip over, don't get up a hill or stay in place with spinning wheels. But you keep trying. You do not let yourself be deceived and you try with a lot of policy to reach the next checkpoint. After twenty tries, the frustration starts to play. Here and there you try to get your car further by force, until you realize again that it is about policy.
You slow down a bit and wobble back and forth, you tackle the hill slightly differently, at the right moment with a little gas and… YES! You made it. Euphoria! That's the great thing about Overpass. Sometimes the frustration is very high, I regularly had to put down the controller because I didn't want to buy a new one, and certainly not a new TV. But when it finally works, the satisfaction is great.
The game features 24 licensed buggies and quads: 9 ATVs (quads) and 15 UTVs (buggies) from major manufacturers such as Polaris, Yamaha, Arctic Cat, and Suzuki. Where with the buggies you have less chance of getting knocked over, with the quads you have a little more control because you can lean your rider to one side. You can all unlock these vehicles, but are all already available if you play with a buddy on the couch.
Of course there is a career mode. Earn cash, buy new cars and unlock new locations. So far pretty standard. What you did like is that the progression is not purely linear. You have a grid and every time you have a location you can move on to a few locations. In the end, all this comes together again and all events are spread over a net. For a game like Overpass, this brings some advantages. First, it's easy to choose something else if you're hopeless about something. You have a little more choice in the type of event you want to do, as well as the difficulty. As mentioned, you have the obstacle courses, which I already talked about, but also the hill climb. You are looking at a big hill that you have to go up. But as you guessed, this is not an easy hill to climb.You can go up the hill in different ways and you can tackle the situation in different ways, but straight forward is never an option.
Then there is the multiplayer. There is an online fashion show that I don't have much to say about. What I do have something to say about is that you can go wild together on the couch. This can be done in turn or simultaneously. When you take turns you try to beat each other's time and see who can do this best with which vehicle. But of course it's a lot more fun to do this via split-screen at the same time. Fortunately you are not together on the track, this is not a game where it is fun to beat each other off. Well, sometimes this might be nice, but that's not the point. You see a ghost of the other and so you really feel the competition, the real racing aspect is still present. What was striking is that one player influences the track of the other, for example if you run over something,then it falls to the other player as well.
I had a lot of fun with the game, and still do. It's still 'just one more try'. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. Graphically it is hit and miss. It looks fine on its own, but doesn't score high and then sometimes looks beautiful when the sun shines through the trees. Apart from the extreme motion blur on the wheels, Overpass looks great and the same goes for the sound. Striking is the absence of music. Whether this is a disadvantage, everyone has to decide for themselves. I liked this because I need concentration and be able to hear the revs of the engine. However, some optimization is required. Screen tearing and frame drops are not strange to the game and during split screen the frame rate seems to drop below 20 every now and then (on PS4).There is therefore still plenty of room for improvement.
The genre is not known to everyone, so not everyone will be enthusiastic about a game like this. As a result, it will by definition have the underdog status among racing games. But I applaud Sweden's Zordix and Big Ben for venturing into such a niche, and I'm glad there's finally one.
You have to be patient and not be someone who instinctively pushes the gas. For me, calmness and perseverance are the words that best describe Overpass in the end. Overpass has a lot of potential but is clearly the first game in a genre and hopefully series. So I would absolutely welcome a second part, but here the rough edges and certainly some more depth should be added. What matters in the end is that I have a lot of fun with Overpass!
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