[Game Review] 4 x 4 Jam HD: A stunning racing game in need of a little tune-up

Invictus Games has produced quite a few games for Android. Not too long ago, they released Daytona Rush, which was a pretty good endless racing game. Their latest game is 4 X 4 Jam HD. If there is one word to describe the graphics, it would be stunning. It is one of those games that your friends can see you playing, and their comment would probably be…”Those are graphics on a mobile device?” The game looks that good. The game play is definitely fun, but the game could use a few tune-ups under the hood.

I am huge fan of racing games. I really started enjoying them years ago, when Motocross Madness was released by Microsoft on the PC. Since then, racing games in any format, is a must for me to check out. Currently one of my favorites is the DiRT series by Codemasters. Yes, I am still hoping we get a mobile version of that game. Nevertheless, when I first saw 4 X 4 Jam HD released on iOS a month or so ago, I was hoping it would come to Android.  In a lot of ways it is worth the wait. In other ways, I wish it was still in the garage being tweaked.

Racing games can get boring pretty easily if there isn’t enough variety in them. You don’t have to worry about that with 4 X 4 Jam HD. There are two different modes in the game. You have career mode and the quick race mode. If you are playing in career mode, you have up to 50 races to compete in. There are point to point races, sprint races, capture the geocache (banner), knock out and so on. You start off on easy difficulty, move up to normal, and finally, challenging throughout the 50 races.

The races take place in multiple areas.They include Greenfields, Sand Dunes, Hawaii, and Red Rock. You will be racing against up to five opponents. The length of laps also vary from game to game. The next track is unlocked if you come in at the top three at the end of a race. The first four races are free and the rest have entry fees.

The quick race mode is just that. You can hop in and out of a race quickly. You can set the parameters of the race like difficulty, number of opponents and number of laps. You also have the option of free riding, which is nice for a game like this, because the environments are gorgeous.

There are currently six vehicles to choose from. I shouldn’t really say choose from because only one vehicle is unlocked at the beginning of the game. It is the Beetle, and it is not all that fast. Interestingly enough, I made the mistake of choosing quick race when I started playing, not really noticing the career mode. I lost constantly using the beetle. This is when I began to get a little worried, because I was playing on the easy mode, and I still wasn’t winning. I could understand it if I was a novice in racing games, but I am far from it. I chose to buy a vehicle to see if that changed things. Unfortunately, that seemed to make a slight difference.

Here is where I think Invictus Game could change a few tires. 4 X 4 Jam HD is a free to play game. The good part about that is that there aren’t any silly timers in the game. Thank goodness! The bad part about it is that to unlock the vehicles that could really make a difference in the races will cost you. For $.99 you can purchase $30,000.00 which can buy you a pretty good vehicle, like the Peak Buggy, which is what I bought. There is a noticeable difference from the Beetle. If you choose to spend $4.06 you can get get $326, 480.00 This will allow you to purchase the top four vehicles. There are $2 and $3 options also, but the $4 option gives you the most bang for your buck. If you want to spend money on a free-to-play game.

How about earning cars through winning races? Well, that would be the best way to do it, but you will be playing this game forever. As I mentioned, the first few races are free. After that, you have to start paying entry fees for the races. This isn’t a bad thing, and if you have played racing games before, you expect it. The problem with this game is that in its current state, it is not balanced enough for you to win the game to get more vehicles, unless you grind through the game incessantly. As you progress through the ranks of the career mode, the cash you win increases, but so does the entry fee of your races. As an example, if you come in third and only win $500, it doesn’t matter much, because your entry fee was $413. Due to the cost of the vehicles, it would take you a long time to earn the money necessary to buy the better ones. Any purchase will also turn off the ads in the game, which is a good thing. However, even when you win races, you have the option of doubling your winnings, by watching a video. The sad part is that you will need to watch videos to begin to get anywhere close to earning enough money for some of the vehicles.

There are multiple control options in the game. You can us the accelerometer in the game, or a combination of on-screen buttons. There is even the option of auto-accelerating, which can be nice, because steering through some of the terrain on these tracks can be difficult. In addition, there are multiple camera views that you can use while racing. All in all, the controls work very well in the game, and they aren’t a hindrance to your success in winning a race.

I really want to be able to recommend this game to other racing enthusiasts, and gamers in general. What I would say is approach it cautiously. Is it a good game? I believe it is. You can tell a lot of hard work has gone into the development of it. However, if you want to really enjoy the competition of the game and racing, you are either going to have to pony up and spend some cash, or play races repeatedly, until you earn enough to buy the nicer vehicles. To be honest, I think you will probably get frustrated quickly by doing that.

4 X 4 Jam HD is integrated with Google Game Play Services, with 14 achievements to unlock. If you are interested in checking it out, you can do so for free. How much fun you will have in the game, depends on your expectations. If you expect to get through the career mode with the Beetle, good luck with that. If Invictus Games took the game into the shop and tweaked it a bit more, and either increased the prize winnings in the race, or made a couple or more vehicles available to unlock by winning, this game would be a winner hands down. In the current state of the game, it falls just short of third place.

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