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“Am I doing this right,” I asked myself, after four hours of playing through the career mode of Nacon’s obstacle racer Overpass. It was as question I found myself asking often: despite – bizarrely – winning the majority of races within this unique racer, I couldn’t help but feel that I was doing something wrong almost all the time.
Overpass is not your typical racing game. For starters, it’s a purely off-road experience, although you won’t be tearing up mud and dirt in Imprezas and Evos like in Dirt Rally. You’ll instead be driving in a collection of ATVs and UTVs, but not in the arcadey Motorcross experience as the awesome MX Vs ATV series.
In your goal to become the World’s Greatest Overpass Person, or something along those lines, you’ll hop into your vehicle and tackle a dirty hotpot of of three-lap obstacle courses and sprint-like Hillclimb events. They’re both similar in theming: each event will see you taking your vehicle of choice through courses consisting of varying terrains and sprinkled objects to drive over without totalling your automobile. That’s right, couldn’t think of a good synonym for vehicle; it’s been a long day.
There are some tricks to the trade that will help you get through courses without becoming a flaming wreck of dinged rollcages, burning rubber, and a mountain of slicked up mud. You can switch between two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and a locked differential. The tutorial explains why these changes are useful – “with an open differential, if tire tyre loses traction, the power transfers to the tire that is spinning,” explains the tutorial man with the soft southern drawl – but often times these tricks do not apply.
You’re taught that driving over pipes needs to be done with a slow crawl at an angle, always low-to-half throttle, never full. Sometimes this will work and you’ll glide over pipes with all the grace of an ATV driving over a pipe – not smooth like butter, more like your grandpa ice skating – sometimes you’ll do the exact same manoeuvre only for your vehicle to softly bump into something and mess up your axel.
Physics inconsistencies are countless, an issue that has plagued over racers from Nacon for years, but in Overpass they seem more untrustworthy than usual. While WRC would occasionally see your car parade into a somersault at the slightest notion of tackling a small rock at medium speed, that was at least a wild physics exaggeration that you could count on. In Overpass, nothing is reliable.
It’s a shame. Despite being built on rocky foundations, the unique prospect of a simulator designed around tackling increasingly complex obstacles is as novel as it is niche. When it works, Overpass is a fun-albeit-often-mundane tread through some decently designed tracks.
In between the main career missions, there isn’t much for you to toy with. You can repair damaged vehicles with money you’ve earned, upgrade your ride, or buy a limited selection of clothing for your racer. It’s all rather trivial.
For a $60 experience, there’s not much to grab players’ attention unless obstacle races is part of a strong itch that only Overpass can satisfy. On a steep sale, Nacon’s unique simulator could provide a few hours of entertainment amid some technical gripes.
Overpass isn’t a great looker; it’s only an adequate player – if that’s an accurate descriptive. Playing it for more than half an hour at most still leave you craving for something more nuanced, interesting, and far more polished. However, this is likely to be the only experience like it for quite a while.