Off-road racing is really fun, and the closest I got to it was back in my youth crashing my Volvo 242 in the woods. Sure it only wanted to turn left after that but it was worth it feeling like a race driver for those three seconds it took to loose control, and fly out in a ditch. Now I have a big ass family car packed with three kids, and off-road racing is off the map. Thankfully I can enjoy 4×4 Jam instead that gives some really fun off-road racing for the iPhone.
4×4 Jam is all about racing across uneven terrain with your vehicle bouncing around like crazy. You can control your off-road Buggy or 4×4 truck by either touch or tilt controls. Both methods work well, and I prefer the touch controls but it is all a matter of taste.
Your vehicle has some really loose dampening absorbing a lot of impact on the uneven surfaces you traverse. At the same time the ride becomes quite unstable at higher speeds, and the slightest bump will send you flying. This is the challenge of the game, finding paths to your goal that let you keep high speed as well as all four wheels more or less on the ground. Thankfully developer Invictus Games has managed to create environments where it is easy to see bumps and jumps. You have either European countryside or American desert to choose as your terrain. Both are good with variation from bumpy flatlands to rocky hills.
There are three game modes available: jam, off-road race and free ride. Free ride is as you might expect just you and the elements. Practise finding paths or climb mountains, you decide. Off-road race is your ordinary race around a set track. Jam is the mode I have enjoyed the most with capture the gate gameplay. You have to make sure to capture a set number of gates to win. Only the first to reach a gate gets the score making this mode really frantic.
You can choose opponent difficulty, set number of gates in Jam or number of laps in off-road race, and finally choose the colour of your Buggy or 4×4 Truck. Other than that there is really not much left to do, there is no customization which I really miss. Would love to try out different suspension settings, and different tires.
4×4 Jam suffers from a severe lack of content in the reviewed 1.0 version. There is no reason to play it other than for the thrill of the moment. No unlockables, no upgrades, no achievements, no leader boards, no career/tournament/championship, and no multiplayer. The game saves your best result in Jam and your best time for off-road race.
If you are looking for some of the most intense off-road racing for the iPhone look no further than the Jam mode in 4×4 Jam. But be vary that what you see when you first start the game is all you get.
4×4 Jam looks great, and runs smoothly. The ground, sky and vehicles all look great. Only one point of view, would have loved to get some more camera angles when out climbing hills. Trees and bushes aren’t solid, and you can’t destroy them by driving into them. All you get is a sound effect but the tree still stands as you have passed through it. I would also like to see more particle effects, and some mud spray would really add to the off-road feeling.
4×4 Jam features some nice menu music, but when you race there is no music at all. The engine sounds are good, and the sounds of your vehicles tortured suspension is great. As mentioned above under the graphics rating trees and bushes make a puny sound when you crash through them. The game fades out your own music.
4×4 Jam has three working control layouts to choose from. 4×4 Jam is a fun off-road racer, and the AI racers get really challenging on the hard difficulty.
To me it is fun just to drive around to see what the vehicles are capable of, but the hectic Jam mode is as the title of the game implies the main mode.
What you see the first time you start the game is what you get. Nothing to unlock or achieve but at least you can better your own best times. Still 4×4 Jam is the kind of game you can pick up and play for ten minutes a day just for the fun of it.
4×4 Jam is fun, fun, fun but severely lacking in content. If you want to bounce around chasing gates or just go for a free ride with some nice physics this is a great game for it.