A man's worst fear a battle with nature. Weather has always been an undefeatable foe ranging from fog, rain, snow, and many other environmental variables. Having to drive in these conditions you will understand how complicated it is. But what's even harder is to drive in these conditions on dirt roads. With the lack of traction it's so much easier to spin out. Well these conditions are what rally racers face each day.
The game itself is quite easy to get a hang of, using standard racing controls. X button for acceleration, square for braking and reverse when stationary, triangle to change camera angle, circle to handbrake, L1 to downshift, and R1 to gear up. Very easy to get use to if you have ever played other ps2 racing games. The game also supports the Logitech steering wheel, only downside is you cannot configure the sensitivity of the wheel.
If you have ever watched the rally races on the speed channel you'll understand how complex the races can get. Having the ability to tip your car as well as spin out. Unlike standard racing games Rally requires a co-op between the driver and navigator. The navigator gives directions to the driver informing him of upcoming turns and the distance of the turn. The navigator isn't the only one that informs you of upcoming situations, at the top of the screen you will see turn signals seeing the upcoming turn as well as how sharp. Make sure you prepare for the situations or you may end up in a ravine or flipping the car over. Unlike most car games this one has car damage. You can see how messed up your car gets by crashing into trees and falling over. The car practically falls apart, the windshield and car doors can fall off as well as producing damage onto the frame of the car. The more damaged the car is the harder it is to drive. It is very wise to keep your car in as good as condition as you can keep it since there are no pits. Pits only occur after going through a few sections of the rally. So during the other sections you have to drive with the current conditions you are in. Do not completely mess up your car or you can get a disqualification, or more like unable to finish the race. So try to last until you reach the pits.
During the pits you can change the brakes, gearbox, tires, engine, chassis, suspension, and steering. You can also change these options before a race. Within “brakes” you can change the braking power from light to strong as well as the brake balance. Next options would be the “gearbox” where you can change the gear ratio from low to high. This gives the car more acceleration or more top speed. You can also change the transmission from manual, semi-auto, to fully automatic. After examining the stage info you should change your tires to the course layout. The ”tire” options range from intermediate tarmac, hard tarmac, soft tarmac, wet tarmac gravel, dirt, hard gravel, short stud, medium stud, and long stud. “Engine” modifications would consist of power balance for the front, middle and read as well as have engine upgrades like turbo, standard, super, or super maxi. As well as launch control. “Chassis” allows you to modify the weight of your car ranging from standard all the way to super light. “Suspension” modifications range from anti-roll, none, medium, to strong. And last but not least is the “steering” sensitivity has the options of being fast, standard, or slow. Choose these options wisely for it may cost you the match or give you the upper hand to win
After you are fine tuned you are ready to hit the tracks. There are a total of eight different circuits: Spain, UK, Greece, USA, Japan, Sweden, Australia, and Finland. Within each of these tracks there are a total of 7 stages. The entire track is completed over a matter of days; you will be required to complete each stage in order to pass the level. When racing on the tracks you race alone, meaning you will never see your computer opponents. I feel that this is a downside since rally is truly great when you see fellow racers passing each other on the narrow turns. But like in real rally races you can see the difference in time when racing. After each checkpoint you will see a negative or positive time value depending on how far ahead or behind the #1 ranked racer you currently are. These tracks are also available for multiplayer play once you unlock them.
The modes available to play are Championship, Stages, Options, and Extras. The entire portion of the game resides within Championship. This is where you race as Colin Mcrae in his Ford focus. This is the only area that you can fine tune your car to compete against other opponents. You will be racing in a grand championship competition against the other opponents on all stages. Once you have completed a country you will receive points based on your finishing position as well as unlocking upgradeable options for the car. This will take a bit of time to beat but doable in a week or so. If you ever get bored you can always pop in some multiplayer play against a friend in stages. In multiplayer play you compete against a fellow friend trying to see who gets the better time. There is no car damage in multiplayer as well as never being able to see the fellow opponent or opponents. If these features were added in multiplayer play it would just be great. If they also added i-link or internet play with those added options the game would be a great party game. But since it lacks most of these options it's not a suggested multiplayer game.
The graphics are sufficient for this type of rally game. The reason I say this is because the background act like bricks, they never move. The trees are just lifeless background objects that just sit their looking pretty. Even the small bushes are just there to interfere; you can't even knock them over. All the background objects just seem to be objects used to destroy the car. Even though the background has no interaction the art design is pretty nice. They seem pretty identical to what true rally races are like, small narrow roads filled with obstacles. It's extremely nice with the weather effects: rain, snow.
The sound in the game is almost non existent. There is no BGM in the game, the reason for this is because you should be focusing your attention on the co-drivers instructions. The other in-game sounds would be from the car. The tires squealing, the engine revving and the exhaust backfiring on each gear change. This allows the player to feel the car understanding when to do what.
The game is quite fun but it still requires a few more tweaks to make this an overall great game. The single player is quite impressive though pretty fun to play. I can't wait to see how the next edition pars. If they add on all the features that I've mentioned this game would be great. But this is probably the best rally game I've played. If you're really interested in rally games this would probably be the one I recommend. For a retail of $49.99 it's up to you if it's worth picking up or not.
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