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RalliSport Challenge

Review By:  2nd Opp

Developer:   Digital Illusions
Publisher:   Microsoft
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Racing
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Unit, Steering Wheel, HDD (custom soundtracks)
Date Posted:  

9-17-02

Rally car racing: you and your car vs. Mother Nature. No other racing sport is more technical or more demanding of the driver then that of a Rally race. These races take path through the harshest of conditions, far beyond where the pavement ends. They are know for the dangerous, twisting roads, with 300ft drops at the bend of the tightest turns. Yet the drivers throw themselves and their cars around each corner with breathtaking speed, hanging on by the thin treads of their tires. Now we get a chance to try this white-knuckle racing in a way that won't damage our cars, and that is in the form of Rallisport Challenge. I have always been a fan of Rally racing, and have gone through many Rally games on many systems. I've been through some that are very good (Test Drive: V-Rally on Dreamcast) and some that are very average. Now the first taste of Rally racing has hit Xbox, and it has definitely hit with all four wheels spinning.

When you start up the game you are given the choice of four modes, career, single race, time attack, and multiplayer. Career mode is where you unlock all the goodies for the game, including all the tracks used in the other modes. While in a career you select events that will cover anywhere from three to nine races in a row, and each event varies. Some events will be pure rally, racing from point to point against the clock. Some are sets of rally cross tracks that has you race five laps against three other drivers, sometimes on very difficult ice levels. Then there is my favorite type of event, the hill climb. In this point to point race you'll have to take the tightest turns, switch backing up the mountain, all while trying not to fall off the sharp cliff next to you. Each race you finish will award you points for five key elements: your position, damage done to your car, fastest lap, top speed, and total time. As you gain more points, new classes of events and cars will open up to you, and if you finish certain events with solid first places, you may even unlock a few special cars bringing your garage total up to 29 licensed cars. All the levels and cars you unlock in career mode can then be used in the other three modes to help you become a solid driver, or embarrass some friends in multiplayer. Believe me, it gets very fun bumping a friend off the edge in a hill climb, or smashing their windows when you slam into them.

When you jump into this game it may take a little while to get used to the controls. Your first few power slides may send you straight off the course, but once you get the hang of it, the cars control beautifully. Depending what you are racing on, you'll have to approach the turns very differently. If your on Tarmac, you need little if any slowing, on mud and sand you must slow down some, and on ice and snow you better creep around the corners or else you'll go flying. Each vehicle has it's own statistics that give it its own feel of acceleration, speed, and handling. This gives a good selection for different players' tastes, but may leave your favorite teams' car undesirable. There are a few adjustments you can make before each race, but they have minimal effects on changing your car.

One thing for sure is this game is beautiful to look at. The scenery is lush, with lots of extra stuff in the background to catch your eye. Birds will swoop across the track, brush will sway when you drive through it, and trees will drop leaves if you hit them. Each area has it's own look to keep things fresh. You'll go from a sunset race in the desert, to the misty switchbacks on the side of a mountain, and then on the muddy tracks of Europe. The tracks are not the only things looking good; the cars also have gotten the Xbox touch. Each one is realistically rendered, with reflections of the track gleaming off the sides, but don't expect them to stay like that for long. As you race, your car will collect dirt, snow, dents, and whatever else you plow through. By the end you'll barely be able to tell what color it was, or what shape it was before you hit that rock. The more stuff you bump, the more damage you add, you can even smash out your side windows and bend your spoiler. When you get in a bigger crash, the game does a little camera zoom to let you feel the impact, a very nice little touch. Yet some of the best crashes never get viewed thanks to the short distance for the auto-reset feature. You may have set your car up for a fantastic crash, or a plummet off the side of the mountain, but as soon as you get ten feet off the track, the screen fades and you are placed back in the middle. While this does keep the race going, it ruins your spectacular crashes.

Highs:

  • Cars take damage
  • Realistic graphics
  • Custom playlist
  • Good sense of speed
  • Unlockable tracks and cars

Lows:

  • Car resets to easy during crashes
  • Change camera button in a bad spot
  • Can't fully adjust car

Final Verdict: 

This is Rally racing at its best. The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is dead on, and there is plenty to unlock in career mode. I just wish the Auto reset feature could be turned off. Any fan of the sport, or of racing games in general should pick this game up, its not one to be missed.

Overall Score: 8.9

Additional Images:

 


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