Track: Blue Ridge Run
Garage Settings: 1800 med tires/soft suspension
Lap time: 2:50
Music: Custom - short guitar refrain
If you've been playing this game for any length of time, you definitely know the name, "ONaN". You also know him to be one of the premier track makers associated with this game. Needless to say his participation in this year's Expo was a welcome surprise, and we're happy to report that collectively we feel that Blue Ridge Run constitutes his best work to date. Oh, before we forget, as with most ONaN creations, the texture work is rather… vivid, so if you happen to have a pair of sunglasses handy, you might want to throw em on before firing this one up lol.
An aptly named track set in a mountainous region, accented lush green grass and towering trees, it takes you on a beautiful scenic tour up thru blue covererd mountains, across bridges and over a rather large lake. It consists primarily of a smooth flowing dirt road up thru the mountainous area. Shortly after descending into the quiet country town below, you'll encounter level paved roads that weave around very nice looking houses, rustic lodges offering southern comforts and a fountain plaza in front of what is possibly the county courthouse. As you head out of town, you'll cross railroad tracks used by an Amtrack train that zooms hastily by from time to time, and then head to the final leg of the course, which takes you over a bridge and back to the start line.
ONaN tracks are by and large unmistakable. We made reference to individual styles that mark a track makers work when reviewing Alphaville
to make point, one of contrast, but a point with merit nonetheless. On Blue Ridge Run ONaN's "signature" is unmistakable, and amplified threefold by his superior workmanship. It has long, smooth flowing roads with lots of elbow room to maneuver, well-designed, realistic models, and nice texture work with colors that really light up your monitor. There's talk of this one already in the Nitro Game room, as racers and even rumblers are trying it on for size. One of the many things that made it instantly popular is you don't need to be a whiz at trigonometry and physics just to race the thing. Sure, there are a few spots you have to be wary of, like coming out of the downhill section of the mountains leading to and through checkpoint seven. Whew, you talk about a rush! The momentum through there is quite impressive, and there's no need to worry about slamming into a tree since they're all set to no collide. What ultimately handcuffs many racers is the hard right turn at the end of the road, which is a little hard on the … well, everything lol. Ah but you should take comfort in knowing you don't have to slam on the brakes in order to negotiate that turn. Letting off the gas early and muscling your vehicle around the corner maintains your momentum into the long straight heading to checkpoint eight. Overall the pace is fast, and that too appeals to lots of racers, as well as all the room you have to work with throughout the course. In the town section where you find the blacktop roads, the turns are such that you can setup for them nicely, and really cruise through em at high rate of speed. Oh and before we forget, we have to comment on the custom guitar music he added to his track. It's repetitive with a capital "R", but it compliments & meshes so well with the subdued country environment he created that the recycling nature of the song won't annoy you.
Needless to say we didn't find much to complain about with Blue Ridge Run. Actually we didn't have anything to complain about at all, however, we would like to point out a few observations we made. To begin with, there were a several spots where the transition
from one texture to the other could've been smoother, and here a tile
was inadvertently misplaced. By now some (or maybe all) of you out there are going "Oh come on - that's so minor it borders on the ridiculous". Well sure lol, I suppose one could make such an argument, and we agree-it's nit-picky stuff. Bear in mind, however, it's there, it's not technically correct, and therefore we're obligated to make note of it. We realize ONaN knows better. We're simply pointing out the minor details that were overlooked, possibly in haste or from being "too close" to the project, which is one reason for using beta testers. That's not to say that using testers guarantee discrepancy-free tracks, but it helps. Mostly though, we need to justify our jobs, and finding microscopic flaws is how we do it lol. Truthfully, the fact is ONaN did such a great job there wasn't much to critique, so hats off to him. Moving on, we also found a cabin
that was slightly recessed into the terrain. Lag isn't a problem at all, however some may experience a performance hit when in the vicinity of the water fountains. It's system dependent, so if you're running a high performance machine with a very good video card, you may not even notice it. Finally, there are a couple of areas that could have benefited from additional rounding off such as here
The absolute bottom line is ONaN pulled out all the stops on Blue Ridge Run. It has something for everyone, and that's quite a feat to pull off. Typical critiques of many tracks from players are "too long, too short, too boring, too hard, too laggy, etc". You'll be hard pressed to find such criticisms about this one. As a matter of fact, ONaN, as a show of supreme confidence and unprecedented customer service, has promised to send $500.00 to anyone who dislikes his track - no questions asked. Mind you, that's $500.00 in "Monopoly" money… but hey, it's the gesture that really counts lol. A superb effort, ONaN - outstanding job, bud!