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Larry Ragland 4X4 Challenge

Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Xicat Interactive
Developer: Xpiral
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 6
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

It's not that Larry Ragland's 4X4 Challenge has bad graphics, it's just that they're not that spectacular. All of the tracks are located inside some sort of arena, limiting the backdrops to grainy skylines of buildings or tropical places, and then a closer, yet equally as grainy, set of stadium seats. The tracks themselves are all dirt, with walls of hay, or concrete, or whatever, lining the course. Thankfully, there isn't that much dust that gets kicked up, keeping the game smooth at all times. The vehicles themselves don't look too different from each other, except for their sponsor's markings. They do, however, sport a primitive damage system that shows cracks in the windows and dents in the metal. The graphics are clean, just not that innovative.

The music is equally uninspired, and then some. Fans of the sport might appreciate the musical score, but it is for sure that all others will tire of it quickly. Sounds effects run along the same line as the graphics: they're there, but they're nothing great. Mostly the sound of tires ripping through the dirt will be heard, along with the occasional backfire and vehicular collision, and it will all be forgotten two minutes after you stop playing.


Larry Ragland's 4X4 Challenge is simply nothing more than a racing game. There are nine vehicles, eight tracks, and three different game modes: Arcade, Championship, and Multiplayer. Don't expect the depth of Gran Turismo or any other great racing game here. All there is to it is to pick a vehicle and go.

Arcade mode and the Championship mode differ from one another in that you have to go through each of the eight different tracks in sequence in the Arcade mode, beating one in order to open the next. The Championship mode will test your skills on a randomly chosen handful of tracks. Beating the Arcade tracks requires that you place first in every race, where Championship is based on a points system, being more lenient on those who don't always come in first.

Multiplayer, as you may have guessed, pits you against other human opponents, with up to six people per race. The biggest addition that this mode brings is the challenge of finding other people who enjoy this game enough to spend time with it on Multiplayer. Not much replay value with this one.

Every race, no matter which mode you choose, has six trucks/SUVs competing in it. The object, of course, is to come in first. This is simply done by racing better than your opponents. The first step to accomplishing this goal is to choose which racing machine is right for you. Each vehicle has its own specs, from tire durability to overall weight. These cannot be modified, so finding the best one for you is a snap. Once on the track, expect the placement of obstacles from small hills to large ditches, and the occasional hairpin turn, to attempt to hinder your performance. Aside from that, though, most of the tracks lack enough variety to really stand out from each other.


There are no difficulty settings, so people will have to rely on finding the right type of vehicle to use that will allow for the greatest amount of ease. With 9 different trucks and SUVs, there is bound to be something there for everyone. The actual difficulty of the gameplay isn't all that hard, opening up the game to a greater amount of people. Even without a steering wheel or prior knowledge of the sport, anyone should be able to get a handle on this game. This also causes the game to become too easy at times, with races usually coming down to you and one other car, while the 'pack' tries to catch up. Hardcore race fans probably won't get all that much enjoyment (or playing time) out of the game, so be wary if you consider yourself a pro.

Game Mechanics:

Though a steering wheel makes this game exponentially more fun, it's not impossible to play with the arrow keys. The physics aren't complicated enough to force the need for a peripheral, giving those non-hardcore off-road racing fans out there a chance. Though all of the tracks are dirt, massive power sliding and loss of wheel traction is not common. Also, there are no 'Dukes of Hazzard' style jumps where you can turn in midair in preparation for your landing. Though the physics might be real in this respect, you won't ever flip or tumble over a wall into another lane. Whether this bothers or helps people is all a matter of taste.

Though most good game concepts are simple, trying to simplify an already complicated one tends to turn into disaster. Larry Ragland's 4X4 Challenge is not a complete disaster, but it is definitely no Pole Position. Fans of 4X4 racing might like to add it to their collection, though the fun will probably be short lived. Casual samplers of the genre, however, will find a minimal amount of fun to be had.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 95/98/ME/2K, 233MHz Processor, 32MB RAM, 150MB Hard Disk Space, 2X CD - Rom, DirectX 7 Compatible Graphic Card

Test System:

Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Warlords Battlecry II Windows 4X4 Evolution 2

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated