|If Rallisport Challenge (RSC) wasnít released into a veritable blizzard of games in the year 2002, it might have had a chance to stand out from the crowd. But being born into the throat of the cornucopia has its drawbacks. A title can get lost in the shuffle. |
Truly, that would be a shame if you like racing games, because this is a good one. If youíre in the try-before-you-buy crowd, RSC is a solid rental choice. You could easily overlook this gem, but youíd be sorry. Hereís a surprising title that has a good chance of growing on you. Itís a pure party pleaser, too, because multiplayer is a good spectator sport.
This is by far the second best game on the Xbox, (Halo being #1) according to players and reviewers alike. It is simplicity itself: Drive! You zip around an outdoor track of either dirt or ice, and thatís all you have to do. Settle on a vehicle, saddle up and drive hard. Learn how to skid, steer like crazy, and find that brake button. Youíll be fine.
The Zen-like ease of use comes in spite of decent depth, including enough tracks and rigs to last awhile. The music track can find anything on your box, so previous rip-a-thons continue to pay back. Hereís where the Xbox is starting to put the pedal to the metal: your U-build it soundtrack can carry over.
I had a blast with this game, driving around like a maniac on a dirt track or skidding across the ice. It was fun going head-to-head with an opponent, split screen. If ever there was an excuse needed to pick up the second pair of controllers, here it is. If your screen or monitor is big enough, donít hold back.
Not that itís all high-octane fuel and pit crew parties. One recurring glitch has to do with really bad drivers. I got cocky and took on a six-year old and learned a thing or two. She was beating me pretty handily until she wrecked on a tight corner. She flipped over and got stuck, and I mean wheels-up hopeless. Rather than reset, I had to drive all the way back to where she was turtled and ram her onto her wheels again so she could resume. Donít think that didnít get old. Almost like it was on purpose.
Other quibbles are the car damage Ė it isnít really that important. You can bounce off walls and other cars with abandon, as it just barely registers on your point total. Plus you catch a lot more air than seems likely. But those are minor points that donít detract at all from the game play.
What it boils down to is the realism. Under the stipulation that of course I admit Iíve never driven 150 mph across a frozen lake, this game sure makes the idea seem fun. The controls seem to map the physics of high speed racing easily, and you get that hood-cam feeling right away. Turn up the volume and drive!
The graphics are up to the Xbox standard, with trees swaying gently in the breeze, bushes that flatten, animals and idiots crossing the track in front of you, and dust and dirt and ice flying. Likewise, the audio is great, with engine noises that make you wonder if youíve pushed a little too close to the redline. Youíll love the sound of broken glass, too.
And the cars look great. There are lots of cars: Ford Escort Cosworth Rally, Volkswagen Beetle, Castrol Toyota Corolla, Peugeot 306, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VI, Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Focus Cosworth, Peugeot 206, Saab 83 TI6 4x4, Opel Astra TI6 4x4, Ford Focus Rallycross, Citroen Xsara Rallycross, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 65, Subaru Impreza Hill Climb, Lancia Delta Integrale, Nissan Skyline, Metro ER4, Peugeot 205 TI6, Audi Quattro SI, Lancia Delta S4, Peugeot 405 TI6 Hill Climb, Audi Quattro SI Hill Climb, Suzuki Grand Vitara PP Special, Toyota Tacoma Hill Climb. As you race and win, you can also unlock a few unlisted prize cars.
Actual racing options range from a fast Instant Race with little setup, through to career mode where you pile up points as you win all 17 races. You can play a single race, or you can race for time. And multiplayer is fantastic for parties and get-togethers with friends.
All in all, this is a great game to have in your collection. Kids will love it, adults will be addicted, and everyone in between will have a good time. You canít ask for too much more in a title.