PS2 REVIEW: HUMMER BADLANDS

Hummer Badlands - one part of the title says it all - and I'm not talking about "lands". by Cole Smith

May 3, 2006 - First of all, I can't afford a Hummer. But if I could, the last thing I would spend my money on is a Hummer. It's just not something that I would want to drive around the city. I wouldn't mind taking one off-roading for an afternoon but since that's never going to happen I thought the closest that would come close would be playing Hummer Badlands for a few hours. In all actuality it comes about as close as an AM radio station does to a live concert.

There is some off-roading in Hummer Badlands but racing makes up the brunt of the gameplay. Racing Hummers may seem like an odd idea, and it is, especially when you're racing on regular tracks that any vehicle could navigate easily. Hummer racing should be confined to offroad, in environments with tough terrain that could showcase the Hummer's ruggedness. These vehicles aren't fast. They are basically tanks. The racing tracks provide absolutely no challenge for these vehicles - but thanks to the incredibly forgiving nature of the gameplay mechanics, the offroad mode is equally unchallenging.

If Hummer Badlands were an actual arcade game, it would make on average, about a quarter an hour. It's just too easy. You can play this entire game in a couple of hours, even if you're a casual player. There are some more difficult aspects to the game, such as the challenges in the Offroad mode but you only have to repeat the section a few times before you catch on.

There are only three major Hummer models: The H1, H2 and the H3. The H1 is the biggest and bulkiest of the three and they become more streamlined and performance-enhanced the higher the number. Variations of each model are available but they only differ in their customizing aspects such as tire size, suspension, brakes and paint job.

All Hummers share the same handling characteristics which are basically floaty physics that cause the Hummers to bounce in the air like the vehicle from Moon Patrol. They feel like inflatable bouncy castles on wheels. Even when you slam into a tree or the side of a wall you bounce right back on the track. The sound effects are good, which makes it seem as though you're actually hitting a brick wall but the damage display is relegated to only a cracked windshield and a dented bumber. Hey I know these things are tough, but they're not magical.

Modes include the standard quick race, time trials and championship in which you participate in a series of five races, the competitor awarded the most points overall is the winner. There are some multi-player modes which include head-to-head, pursuit racing and get this, tug-of-war. You hit the reverse buttons and try to out-pull your opponent. It's as silly and un-fun as it sounds. Yes, we're crossing over into the redneck neighborhood now.

There is a decent selection of courses, for a budget title. They include two versions of the following locations: New York, Arizona, California, Colorado and Peru. There are five variations to each track, and although it may break things up a little, there still isn't much of a challenge to any of them. The shortcuts are easy enough to find; they may as well be marked with an overhead sign. Don't expect much in the scenery department. The trees, shrubs and fences look like the fake scenery from a model train set. They are reused for most of the tracks. There is some clipping in which various leaves and branches will pass through your Hummer.

In the single-player mode the AI always wants to hang with you. If you're in the lead they are always close behind, regardless of how great you may think you're doing. And if you're not doing so well, that is, if you manage to encounter a few setbacks, your AI buddies will appear to wait for you. They never get too far ahead and leave you to fend for yourself. This is just another example of the oversimplified gameplay. I'm not expecting a sim but some realism would be nice. There's not much incentive to keep your vehicle on the track if A) you don't destroy it, and B) you can always catch up to your opponents.

You can't deny that these Hummers look good. I mean, personally I don't think that Hummers look good, they look like a cross between a jeep and a school bus, but graphically they are virtually photo-realistic and that's impressive for a budget title. But regardless of how good they look, I still want to smash them up from time to time.

With some mountainous curves and slipper icy patches, the Colorado tracks provide the most challenge of all the five locations. It's a bit more of a challenge just to keep your Hummer on the road. The most challenging mode is the Offroad mode where you will battle rocks, fallen trees, steep embankments and raging rivers. This is where the developers need to focus their efforts if there is ever going to be a Hummer Badlands sequel. Get the physics down, increase the difficulty, add some more realism to the AI and let us customize some of these babies. That would make a much better game.

Please don't alert the Double Entendre Police but I've just got to say that this Hummer blows.

Features:

  • Hummer Badlands lets you go off-road, slide through the mud, and climb over rocks in your own Hummer vehicle.
  • More than just 4 tons of raw HUMMER power rumbling across the earth.
  • 20 torque twisting HUMMER models including the H1, H2 and the H3T Concept.
  • Authentic customization: wheels, roof lights, brush guards and more!
  • Split-screen multiplayer for head-to-head action.
  • Race on or off-road: Smash through barriers to uncover shortcuts and hidden routes!
  • Championship Mode, Quick Race, Tug O' War, Extreme Off-Road and much more!

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Hummer Badlands (PS2)
3.5
Graphics
The Hummers look great for a budget title. They are very colorful and outrageously unstylish - just like they are in real life.
2.1
Control
The physics are too floaty. I want to feel like I'm driving a tank not a bouncy castle with wheels.
2.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are some decent sound effects but they don't mean anything if your vehicle isn't even scratched.
2.0
Play Value
You're only to replay this game to feel good about yourself. It can be beaten in a few hours. You might get enjoy the two-player mode, but odds are your friend won't.
2.3
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: PS2, X
Dev: Eutechnyx
Pub: GlobalStar
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best