Remember those days sitting in the arcade playing Sega Rally? Well, they’re coming back and in force. Sega is back with a new Sega Rally and available for Xbox 360. But how does one go about bringing an arcade classic to a console? Lets dig a bit deeper.
Sega Rally brings you extreme arcade rallying. By extreme I mean high speeds, and by rallying, I mean racing on a dirt track. This is no replacement for your run of the mill rally sim, however a welcome addition to the racing genre in that it remains accessible for all. If perhaps too accessible. The controls remain simple with only a limited requirement for braking, and the overall goal is simply to drive as fast as you can and to lose as little speed as you can to win the race. This has been done well and the sense of speed is achieved well, and due to the tight controls you will have little difficulty remaining in control of your car even when power-sliding at 120-mph.
A fantastic addition to any racing game is the incredible track deformation technology Sega have created for Sega Rally. This means that as you race around the different environments you will be carving up the track, and because there are only circuits and no point to point races, you will have to negotiate the fluctuating track on your next few laps. This makes the game exciting and is well implemented with Sega having implemented responsive controls which give substantial feedback on the road surface. This means you will feel the bumps, even if simply the cobblestones you are racing over or the deep, water filled rut that you created on your first power-slide corner of the race.
That’s the other thing. The environment is so created that the ruts actually will fill with water in certain boggy parts of the track. This water also changes the way you race and looks incredible spraying out the back of your car. The graphics in Sega Rally are simply phenomenal. The environments look gorgeous with birds flying across the track and helicopters hovering overhead. The cars look gorgeous and are incredibly detailed, and as you have a number of real world rally cars to choose from with a small selection of liveries for each you can marginally customise the car.
The environments look so good you will be tempted to race with a behind the car view simply to see the mud splashing and caking your shiny rally car. You will also be able to do mild damage to track-side scenery in that when you crash into a fence you might take a few posts with you, but this has essentially no effect due to the band around the edge of the track meaning you won’t be hitting any trees in Sega Rally, and the lack of a damage model for the cars.
The environments are however limited by having only such a small number to choose from. All in all there are five “environments” and each has 3 different circuits. The environments are tropical, canyon, alpine, safari, arctic and lakeside and are pretty self-explanatory. They all look as you would expect, and each drives markedly differently, but there just isn’t enough variation and it doesn’t take long before doing laps becomes very tedious.
The band around the edge of the track also means you could virtually just hold the accelerator and set a semi-decent time without steering as the barrier would keep on heading in the right direction for the best part. This is very true to the arcade classic, and you definitely feel as though you are playing a similar game to the Sega Rally of old. However we have been spoiled for choice recently with racing titles, and Sega Rally doesn’t feel as though it offers enough, as it is as though once you’ve driven a few races, you’ve driven them all.
The AI does nothing to change this feeling in that they race uninspired races and stick to their position reasonably well, in that you cannot simply nudge them out of the way. This is not necessarily bad, and the AI do make some mistakes, all in all though they seem to follow a relatively rigid line. Clearly for a racer that puts customisation on the back-burner with a focus on high speed precise racing, the AI could do with a bit of tweaking.
There are only a small number of game modes, the main mode being the uninspired championship mode which will simply have you trying to win all the races while slowly ranking up the difficulty. A time-trial mode and multiplayer mode are also included, with ghost cars available for upload and download in time-trial.
I had high hopes for the multiplayer as I could imagine the track deformation and high speed nature would be well suited to playing with another human, as it was in the arcades back in the glory days. However this failed miserably as there was not a single game to be found and raises the question how many people are still playing this. With a solid multiplayer the title could well have been a massive success, but with this feature painfully unused with other titles taking the limelight for online gaming, Sega Rally will remain a glint of silver in a pot of gold.
By no means a bad game, Sega Rally is a fun, high speed arcade racer with much love and attention taken to creating beautiful environments, and the fantastic track deformation technology which really mixes things up. The lack of game modes though is accentuated through the lack of any active online multiplayer games and unless you have some mates who all have this title you might want to consider how much you will get out of it. Kudos to Sega though for very successfully re-creating the Sega Rally arcade experience that we all knew and loved some years ago, but it may well leave many gamers wanting more in an era where we are simply spoiled for choice.