SEGA Rally Reader Review
Sega Rally Revo is a curious game. While on the one hand, playing it gives you an unbridled sense of joy previously only the forte of games like Burnout and Trackmania. On the other, there is a brooding sense of 'is that it?'
Let me explain the paradox here. Sega Racing Studio have developed environments that can rival or better anything in GT5 (by the looks of it) in terms of visual fidelity, realism and detail level, and mated them to THE most advanced particle/deformation effects ever seen in a game utilized on the racing track. That is truly inspiring, jaw dropping graphical wizardry; all that to service a simple game of short 3-lap races with arcade handling, no destruction, and no collisions with roadside objects.
In other words, it is rather like buying am XBox 360 to play PacMan. Or buying a Rolls Royce for express purpose of hauling grocery.
Yes, the racing is addictive. From the bumper cam, the sense of speed is mesmerizing. The particles spewing off the wheels of the car in front of you, coupled with a track realistically deforming before your very eyes, give you an unparalleled sense of being there. You are torn between keeping your eyes on the track and exploring the stunning scenery that just blips by. Check out that riverbed section, spotted with (deforming) puddles and mud, or that Alpine road flanked by sunflower fields, or that African track zooming through an animal-strewn national part, or that arctic section with unbelievable northern lights display. It is a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
And yet, the pure arcade nature of the game jars to the bone. I know Sega Rally was never a sim, but all this hard work seems to go to waste in the game's asthetic. Take roadside stones, trees, fences - everything so lovingly crafted and rendered, yet so insubstantial. You can hit anything head on and you simply won't hit it, but bounce off. I know EG have declared this to be a positive aspect of the game, but I disagree for the simple reason that it is heartbreaking to see such photorealistic trackside detail go to waste. After a while there is no sense of danger to the game - knowing that hitting anything will just slow you down a tiny bit, you simply don't care. Where's the fun in that?
What puzzles more is how profound the effect of the changing terrain is on your car. Even if you don't have force feedback, you will be able to tell the texture of the road just by the shakes and rattles of the camera - something which is sorely missing from DiRT.
Ah. The D-word. Well, don't worry - you can get them both - they are different kettle of fish. Where DiRT loses out to Sega Rally graphically, which is more a testament to the latter's prowess rather than any failing on the former's part, it at least offers a deep, long, diverse, lovingly crafted career. That Neon engine is put to full use and displayed at every possible opportunity in every possible way. In stark contrast, the challenges in Sega are short (but intense) races, of which you have to attempt in packages of three or four.
Another feature amiss is car customization. I know this is against the arcadey tilt of the game, but given the punishment the game's hyper-realistic, dynamic terrain dishes out to your car, some sort of suspension and engine tweaking would be nice.
Minimalism has its limits. The game's menus are pedestrian,and by that very fact they become confusing. There is no profile switching, and you will have a hard time getting to the game modes and options menus, separated as they are by identical background photos and tiny text headings. If Sega are willing to take this all the way, I think the best way would be to present the player a simple form instead of a menu, where options can be selected by simple checking or unchecking, and a 'race' button to set it all off beneath.
I am also missing a course creator. It would have been marvelous to play with that amazing engine, which to my eyes at least is the best ever. Not to mention an ability to create longer, more challenging tracks.
Again we come to that paradox. Deformable terrain, extremely diverse selection of tracks (if limited in number), rapidly changing conditions, profuse roadside detail - all just goes unutilized in the face of the simplistic (but NOT simple) handling model, no customization of cars beyond tyres and auto/manual gearshift, short, three lap races on closed circuits. Driving in Sega Rally is extreme fun, but it is more akin to driving on the F1 circuit of the Nurburgring, knowing that something much bigger, much more majestic is just outside your reach.
How the game runs? Well I have a 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, and a 8800 GTS 640 MB. The game gives me around 40 FPS on this setup, at a resolution of 1680x1050 with everything absolutely cranked up. So I'd say it is not easy on system resources - I think anyone with a lesser card should probably go the console route.
I think it is high time SRS should consider developing a pure rally sim based on the assets of this game.
8 / 10