A racing game is a racing game, right? Get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
Well, not now.
WRC 8 publishers BigBen have teamed up with Swedish developers Zordix Racing to reimagine racing in a way that will engage and enrage fans with their off-roader Overpass.
This unique game brings the puzzle-solving aspects of the
Portal games to the hot seat of off-road vehicles.
Pick your way through rocky hillclimbs, balance your
throttle to climb obstacles, and find the right way through wide-open paths to
set the fastest time.
Welcome to your new obsession.
You jump in a giant off-road car and feel invincible. It's like being in a tank in GTA, you can go over anything, right?
Well, no. Overpass immediately hits you with a dose of reality the moment you try to floor it over a bump.
Bigben's WRC 8 was lauded for hyper-realism and superb true-to-life physics, and Overpass is no different.
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Clip a rock and your tall car will be on its roof in no time. Fail to balance your throttle correctly or use your differential to full effect and you will be sliding down the hill rather than climbing it.
The focus has been on getting the physics and handling models right. The feel of mud, rock, sand, and gravel is clear even on a controller and each surface forces the driver to make small tweaks to their style in order to navigate the course successfully.
CAREFUL: Overpass punishes the overly-ambitious
Picking your way up a hill or over a man-made obstacle requires careful throttle control and precise steering. There is always a rock waiting to stymie your momentum or beach your vehicle. There’s always an elevation change that will pitch you sideways if you approach it wrong.
While the timer is running and there are targets to hit, your first run through is more about learning the course and testing ideal paths through. You’ll rarely hit top speed.
Even in open areas, the high centre of gravity of the UTVs especially means you can’t just open it up and expect to control it for long.
Only once you have a rough idea of your perfect path can you start to up the pace and set times to beat.
QUAD PATH: You have to lean into it in Overpass
With the focus on gameplay, the graphics are not mind-blowing, but they are also far from disappointing.
The canyons and mountains immerse you in the location. The mud and moss are clear to see and the mess that your vehicle becomes keeps you planted in the world.
The audio department is on point as usual, with the subtleties of engine sound being even more important here than in your usual racing game.
The key thing about this game is that there is no time to look more than 10 feet in front of you. Your immediate field of vision is crystal clear, and the point of the rock or curve of the pipe you are trying to get past is easy to see.
There are no surprise bumps or unexpected obstacles here. Just a game that challenges you to identify where you should go next.
LINE IT UP: Precision wins over power in Overpass
This game is entirely unique.
Yes, there is a leaderboard and times to beat, but there are also many ways to skin a cat.
Improvements don't come from sticking religiously to the racing line, they come from exploring the terrain and understanding your vehicle's strengths and weaknesses.
While there are "track limits" you can't go outside of, you will rarely be hitting those markers and they only exist to make you tackle obstacles rather than swing around them.
From piles of logs to balance beams, rolling seesaws, and concrete pipes there is a wide array of objects for you to tackle in your ATVs. Each one requires slightly a slightly different approach and forces you to feel for grip and traction or risk ruin.
Career mode & multiplayer
We didn't get to try these out in our brief preview of the game, but the career mode offers a similar level of choice to WRC 8.
A branching tree of competitions and courses offers each player a slightly different experience, which means plenty of replay value too.
Multiplayer is promising in that it has a split-screen option as well as the ability to head online and take on up to seven other competitors.
TEST YOUR METTLE: Overpass will ask questions of any driver
Overpass brings together the puzzles of Portal, the platforming of Mario, and the simulation style racing of Project Cars 2.
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It is such a fresh take on the motorsport genre that it was thoroughly engaging to play and will be fun for those that wouldn't normally pick up a racing game.
We can't wait to get our hands on the final version of the game soon!
Overpass will be available released on 27 February for Epic Game Store, PS4 and Xbox One, and 5 March on Nintendo Switch.
The game will feature 43 tracks across six distinct environments, while the players will get access to 24 vehicles, split between UTV (buggy) and ATV designs. Overpass includes licenses for Arctic Cat, Polaris, Yamaha, and Suzuki.