Games

ATV Offroad Fury 3

Jason Thompson

Even with its added danger of riders executing crazy stunts, it just isn't appealing at the end of the day.


Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genres: Racing
Price: $49.99
Multimedia: Atv Offroad Fury 3
Platforms: PlayStation 2
Number of players: 1-4 s
ESRB rating: Everyone
Developer: Climax Studios
US release date: 2007-06

Back when I got my first PlayStation 2 (the damn CD motor conked out on it prompting me to get another), back so long ago now it seems when you still had to order one on eBay due to the high demand and low supply, one of the first games I purchased for the system was Sony's ATV Offroad Fury. It had received plenty of accolades, both for its graphics and its gameplay. Unfortunately thanks to the ridiculously over-amped AI, the game was not much fun at all unless you were playing with a friend. Even then, I thought there were better racing and/or "extreme" games to be played.

Needless to say, I skipped on the game's first sequel, but the third one was offered up to me for review, and I thought at best the game would have improved and at worst... I had a free game, and no one sneezes at that, right? So does the third installment in the Offroad Fury eclipse the first, or is it more of the same old, same old? Well, I have to tell you, it could have been a lot better, but then again, who was this series ever really designed for, anyway?

Seriously. There's just too many extreme sports games. We can undoubtedly point the finger at Tony Hawk and his popular and enjoyable Pro Skater and Underground series. But the beauty of that whole set of games is that they're easy to pick up, addictive as hell, and funny to boot. Plus the frosting on the cake is that you don't even have to be a skateboarder or find skateboarding very enjoyable to know that the Hawk series is a lot of fun no matter what.

I don't think the same can be said for ATV racing. It's kind of like NASCAR. I don't get the attraction. I don't see what's so thrilling about cars going left for a couple hours. It's just not my thing. And yet ATV racing, even with its added danger of riders executing stunts and driving all over crazy dirt tracks and so forth, just doesn't seem truly appealing at the end of the day, either. It's almost like someone tricked out their John Deere riding mower and went to town.

ATV Offroad Fury suffers not only from this whole niche franchise, but also from the very same things that plagued the first game a few years back. Namely that damned impossible AI that allows the computer opponents to just drill you every time unless you're damned good at not making mistakes and crashing your vehicle. Too bad, because you're going to be crashing again and again, especially if you want to pull of tricks, which you more or less have to do now, since the game now has a points system based on not only racing performance, but tricks as well. Accumulating points allows you to go into the garage and soup up your ATV with new parts, or buy new vehicles, etc. It's all very Gran Turismo these days, and well, I lost interest in that game when the second installment rolled out.

But I get the feeling that greed is sometimes more the factor behind continuing a series more than how good the game actually is. Granted, I can't explain why ATV Offroad Fury and its first sequel even made it onto the PS2's Greatest Hits line of games, but then so did Frogger on the original PSX, and that was a bomb as well to my gaming tastes. But really, sometimes just one of these games would be enough, and then the developers should move on to other things. Especially when the things that were problematic the first time out haven't even been tweaked in the slightest.

And really, I don't see what the excitement is in pulling off goofy looking stunts on an ATV. To me, the whole trick thing looks much cooler coming from the dirt bike racers. Doing a Superman off the back of a two-wheeled motorcycle looks much more elegant and poetic than clinging for life off the back of a hulking ATV. Plus the damn things just feel overly clunky in the game, much as they did in the first game. The racing is smooth, to be sure, and the jumps lighter than air, but landing those monstrosities and keeping it clean is often arduous at best.

Which leads me to believe that this series has always been about plain masochism. Why else would anyone spend the time bothering to upgrade the ATVs and such when the computer is just going to basically kick your ass every time anyway? I played this game for a couple weeks, being good about it and just trying my damndest to get the feel of it, but it was worthless. There were times when I'd just absolutely nail a course and still get left behind, and have to retry, and then just screw it up five times in a row consecutively. If there is a way to become good at this series, it cannot come without a slew of migraines. So finally I punched in the glorious cheat code that unlocked everything and found that even with the best ATV available with all the best tires and parts... I still sucked. Or should I say, the game sucked.

It would be in Sony's best interests to just stop this series once and for all. ATV racing might be a real thrill to those who actually do it, but as a video game, it just doesn't cut it. I did have to laugh, though, at the disclaimer shown at the beginning of the game that goes by extremely fast that points out how none of the stunts should be performed by anyone other than professionals, and that drinking and doing drugs while riding ATVs should also never be done. I would also add a disclaimer that drinking and doing drugs while playing this game couldn't possibly help any either. So save your money, time, and sanity on this one. The only fury you'll experience when playing it is when you find yourself throwing the controller across the room for the hundredth time.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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