Like having a Flymo or a hive of angry hornets strapped to your head, Overpass leaves you with abrasive engine sounds and little else. Except for jaunty rock music on the menus and the sound of screeching in your brain.
Perfectly solid, Overpass looks the part, albeit with screen tearing, long loading times, and the occasional shabby texture. There's a nice diversity of environments too, from canyons to jungle canopies and pristine beaches.
Somewhere out there is a person who will love Overpass. I am not that person, and I'm struggling to think of anyone in their right mind who'd enjoy grinding up dirt and sand while climbing an almost 90-degree slope.
Career mode as the crux of Overpass is nicely put together, while Quick Races and Custom Challenges give you plenty to do. And, because misery loves company, you can even delve into online and split-screen multiplayer.
A good spread across all aspects of Overpass, the achievements are standard fare, nothing special. Win gold medals, progress through Career, finish a race with no time penalties, and unlock everything. Simple (not so much).
February 26, 2020
Imagine an off-road racing game with various challenging surfaces to tackle. Imagine powersliding through the mud and kicking up gravel. Sounds like fun, right? Now imagine that those off-road tracks have been littered with rocks, concrete pipes, and logs, and that every time you face such an obstacle, you have to slam the brakes on and slowly, agonisingly traverse it. That, in a nutshell, is Overpass – the least fun I've ever had with a racing game (albeit a very non-traditional racing game).
Overpass isn't about speed, you're told from the outset. Instead, it's about judicious use of your brakes, approaching obstacles at the right angle and speed, locking your differential for tough climbs, and in the case of the ATV quad bike, shifting your weight by leaning. If this sounds enjoyable, then you'll love striving to beat the clock in Overpass. Not going fast in a racing game seems somewhat counterintuitive, however, and it's so joylessly technical that you can't help but wonder who the hell it's for.
In essence, Overpass is like a 3D Trials game, but not nearly as good as that sounds. Instead, it's a thankless slog that's not nearly rewarding enough. Often, you'll get stuck on a seemingly impossible incline and wonder why the hell you aren't playing something more exciting, like Forza Horizon or MotorStorm – games that offer far superior racing thrills with none of the teeth-gritting frustration that Overpass effortlessly conjures. Both Obstacle courses and Hillclimbs are arduous tests of endurance and patience, neither of which are worth the time and effort.
Oh, and if you're thinking that the game's Career mode is structured in such a way that you can maybe skip a tricky race and come back to it, you'd be dead wrong. Finish the race or you don't get to move on. You're inexorably stuck in uphill limbo forever, unless you choose to retire and forfeit valuable Career points. Overpass is the only racing game I've played where the finish line is clearly visible, on course for a gold medal, and I'm stuck in a pile of rocks unable to advance for a full five minutes.
I don't know about you, but I don't generally play racing games to sit in a pile of rocks spinning my wheels for an interminable amount of time. You can do the tutorial, struggle through each Career race, try a custom race, jump online and take on rivals in multiplayer, but if you're unable to wrap your head around the fundamental all-terrain challenges, Overpass just won't click.
Career mode's learning curve is also remarkably steep, the first race and an easy gold medal quickly giving way to subsequent races that throw you right in at the deep end. You can't help but feel Overpass would work as a side activity in a better off-road game, like DiRT Rally, rather than a full-fledged game in its own right. Doing the same old boring shit over and over is about as enjoyable as stapling your ears to a moving train.
As a package, Overpass is fairly complete. Career mode boasts a garage with customisable parts for the game's licensed buggies and ATVs, various liveries, sponsorship deals, and contracts to sign. The Career would actually be quite good, were it not almost completely impenetrable. As it is, perseverance with any aspect of Overpass would have to be diagnosed as some form of madness. Graphical hitches, like some fairly shabby screen tearing, do little to improve things, despite the environments, deformable terrain, and increasingly mud-caked vehicle models looking quite decent otherwise.
While it's clear what Overpass is striving to accomplish and deliver, the bottom line is that it simply doesn't work. There's an attention to detail here that's commendable, and, indeed, attempting to bring something different to the table – a combination of Trials and MudRunner – is a neat idea. The shoddy execution is what ultimately drags it down; the early difficulty spikes in particular make for an experience that's almost completely inaccessible. Designated compulsory obstacles marked by red flags, sustained damage that impacts performance, and time penalties for every infraction conspire to make the game even harder.
Remember how great it was when the Mako got stuck in Mass Effect? No? Well, Overpass is that but spun out across an entire game, which can lead to only one conclusion: Overpass is a game that feels like it’s for the sort of person who considers a decimal place on a track time reason to breathe, and wear the flesh of their victims. Fair play to them. There's no 'eureka' moment where everything falls into place, there's no instance at which you're likely to have a smile on your face while churning through mud and gravel – simply put, life is far too short to waste your time playing games like Overpass.