What 4x4 - Offroad Racing offers you is a challenge for your imagination: Imagine your car is a lean, mean, all-terrain machine, your opponents are ruthless speed-freaks, and the landscape is diverse, rugged and awe-inspiring. Imagine the buzz from your speaker is actually your monstrous engine roaring... If you're able to manage this, 4x4 is really a pretty nice game.
You'll have to drive your sturdy 4x4 through wild and harsh country, covered with mud, snow or otherwise tough-to-traverse stuff. Apart from your seventeen opponents, you've also got to avoid hitting too many obstacles lying on the road, such as boxes, tires, skulls and so on. If you don't dodge successfully, some parts of your car will break down; it could be the gearbox, the radiator, or some other, mysterious component. If that happens, you can either drive on and hope for the best, or stop to fix it. Of course, the last option will take some time, and some of your adversaries might overtake you. So you've got a tactical choice to make: will I try to make it to the next checkpoint (which is a mandatory stop), or do I stop now for repairs?
That's what makes 4x4 more than a simple pound-the-gas racer. You've got to make choices about which tires to put on your car, how many gallons of gas to take along, or which engine to choose. When you start the race and pick your car, you get a chance to stock up on supplies and select adequate material as you plan for the race. If you don't have mud tires, you're going to get stuck, and lose precious seconds. They're pretty heavy, though, so you won't reach top speed on them. Choices, choices...
As I've said, even though the graphics may not dazzle you and the sound may be of poor quality, the gameplay is pretty decent. Although it will never make my it into my top ten list of favourite games, I've had my bit of fun playing 4x4. A 3 it is, then!
You steer the car with the arrow keys, and use the Insert key to accelerate. This might seem a bit weird, but if you've got Num Lock off, the '0' key from your numeric pad acts as Insert as well, so you can drive throughout the whole game with one hand. Also, I had to crank down the speed quite a bit in DOSBox to make playing the game enjoyable.