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Rally Trophy

Review - rally driving goes retro in Bugbear's 70's racing game

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Rally Trophy takes us back to a time when racing upturned skips with wheels was an entirely acceptable notion, and lets us put mechanical beasts of the 60's and 70's to the test in one of the most impressive rally games to grace our screens in recent times. It's a true car enthusiast's game, with eleven classics such as the Mini Cooper, Ford Escort and Cortina faithfully and intricately re-created. Seven cars remain locked away along with most of tracks when you first start the game up, meaning you must prove your worth in the championship if you're to fully appreciate the scope of the game. Jumping straight into a race is simple enough, as the menu system remains uncluttered and curiously low on customisation options, certainly not going to the lengths of Colin McRae Rally 2.0, for example. The handling in Rally Trophy is definitely an acquired skill, and actually succeeding requires a massive amount of skill and patience in most cases, even when the game is on the Novice skill setting. As you hurtle forwards and come towards your first corner in the game, you'll soon realise just how tricky these old timers are to manage on the road. The drivers you come up against seem to be in possession of unnatural talent, and as the cars have realistically rudimentary handling it can all take some getting used to in order to get anywhere close to a winning time. Coming directly up against the other drivers in the arcade mode offers a better chance of success, and is more immediately satisfying than the mammoth task of tackling the championship.

Funky Ford Cortina

The game's 45 tracks span five countries, which offers plenty of variation in both track and weather conditions, which affects handling substantially. The design of the courses themselves is often crafty and despite the best efforts of your co-driver, blind corners sneak up on you with alarming regularity. The tracks aren't particularly suffocating, however, allowing a certain amount of leeway should you venture beyond the edges. Trackside obstacles usually force you back onto the beaten path though, and you're at risk of seriously bashing up your Cortina should you decide to go for an off-road jaunt for any length of time. Rally Trophy is a superb looking game, with the car models looking especially beautiful in their detail, although they seem to absorb damage well and so the models don't deform quite as much as we would expect. The game engine itself is also extremely capable, throwing about dust and mud particles and recreating some of that lovely lens-flare that we seemingly can't do without these days. All the detail comes at a cost though, and the game is hugely demanding on anything but the most masterful of ninja setups. The audio is very impressive as well, with motors sounding wonderfully authentic as opposed to the dreadful computerised whine we're usually served up. It's refreshing to have a new rallying title present fans of the genre with a relatively unexplored angle on the sport. It's obviously an enthusiastically developed game and is all the more endearing for it. The attention to detail is one its most captivating features, but the massive challenge of the championship plus the more immediately satisfying arcade mode offer plenty to any racing fanatic looking for something different to compliment the more traditional racers in their collection.

7 / 10

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