While most motor racing sims struggle to bring you the latest team data every season, there are only so many times that you can drive the same cars around the same tracks before you start to get bored. You only have to look at the horde of Formula 1 games released every year, most of which end up retiring on the formation lap, to see that having the latest data isn't always the route to success.
Finnish developer Bugbear Entertainment are trying to break the mould with Rally Trophy, which follows in the tyre tracks of Grand Prix Legends by ditching the familiar Ford Focus and Peugot 206 of modern racing in favour of a dozen classic cars of the Sixties and Seventies, including the Hillman Imp, Porsche 911 and Mini Cooper.
The result should hopefully be a more seat-of-your-pants driving experience, without the benefit of gizmos like four wheel drive and active suspension to keep you pointing in the right direction. And if you do slide off the track, instead of hitting an invisible barrier or a solid wall of trees a few yards off the straight and narrow, you will find yourself slithering down hillsides or ploughing through woodland until you can bring your car to a halt (or hit something big enough to stop you).
Bugbear are promising some spectacular crashes, with realistic physics and a damage modelling system which will give you both visual and handling feedback when you dent your car. Careless driving may see you reaching the finish line with a couple of missing panels, a broken windscreen, shattered suspension and red faces all round.
Back On Track
In all there are 49 stages to drive your way around with a range of track surfaces from desert dust tracks to winding mountain passes and ice-bound woodland roads, while dynamic weather conditions should add further variety to the proceedings.
And if you want to try something a little different, ten of the stages will be circuit courses with support for more arcade-style head-to-head races against the AI. Multiplayer is high on the agenda as well, with support for up to six players on track at once and a massive 64 player championship mode included for those of you wanting something with a little more in-depth.
If Rally Trophy can live up to its promise it could prove a refreshing change from the likes of Colin McRae, with a range of classic cars and rally stages, as well as full championship modes for both solo and online gamers. It's also shaping up to be one of the best looking rally games we have seen to date, with support for all the latest real-time lighting and particle effects and some impressive scenery. We should know soon whether it will hit the sweet spot, with JoWood currently planning on a September release, and an Xbox port expected some time next year.