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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Microids

 

Developer

Steel Monkeys

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2001

 

 

- Forgiving “arcadey” action

- Stripped down interface easy

to navigate

- Locked vehicles and

racing modes

- Wide-open racing for the

most part

 

 

- Lots of chop at times

- Smeared textures on lower settings

- Not enough damaging effects

 

 

Review: Rally Fusion (XBox)

Review: Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (Playstation 2)

Review: Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)

 

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Master Rallye

Score: 7.3 / 10

 

Let’s skip the preliminary “witty” intro and get down to the nitty-gritty – a hubcap in the face, if you will.  Master Rallye from Microids and Steel Monkeys is a fine rally game – average fine, to be more accurate.

 

master-rallye-1.jpg (51117 bytes)          master-rallye-2.jpg (50055 bytes)

 

Master Rallye (MR) is clearly aimed at the non-fanatical rally fan and casual gamer.  The interface is the very model of “Easy to Navigate” even though you can’t use the mouse.  Although it won’t endear itself to the fanatics, it does make it easy to dive right in for everyone else – no confusing car options, etc. to plough through.  There are the basic tweaks available such as gear ratio, et al. but one needn’t bother themselves with even looking at those screens since they don’t seem to make much difference to the handling of your vehicle.

 

There are quite a few different vehicles to choose from – some available from the start, some locked.  They’re rated in different categories (i.e. speed, acceleration, handling, etc.) and you will notice a difference while driving.  However, it doesn’t seem to matter what the computer AI is driving.  You race against 3 other cars – there’s always one in the middle (fighting you), one in front, and one that tends to hang back.  Beating the competent computer AI boils down to getting a firm handle on the way your vehicle handles.  Over-steering is easy to do and occasional use of the brakes is essential – mastering (and remembering) both spells success. (There's much challenge in the later rallys.)

 

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If I may use an oxymoron, tracks are evenly varied and many.  Which is good because you’ll have to place well to unlock the other racing modes.  There are canyons to race through, beaches to cut across, forest to sprint through, etc. – in short, all the usual locations.  However, the track designs are very good.  The developers obviously put in a good effort making things seem wide-open – the very essence of rally – while maintaining a marked out course.  Nothing seems 

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out of the ordinary but that’s part of the attraction.  One of the early tracks has a whole section that has been pit mined and it really works to make the race more “realistic.”  Big points for the track design across the 40+ locations – even though you may have to repeat things to place well enough to unlock the other modes it doesn’t get tired.

 

The physics model is decent – lots of bumps and sliding – but it’s definitely not accurate. (Yet another clue that MR isn't for fanatics.)

 

Graphics are a big issue and bring MR down a notch or two.  Firstly, at the start of each race when you’re vying for position the action stutters to slideshow proportions, which practically guarantees you’ll drop to last place until everyone else scoots off screen (or by some luck you pull into first place) and your framerates go up.  Some of this can be alleviated by tweaking the graphic settings but then you have to deal with ugly looking textures. (I recommend running it in a smaller window.)  Even on higher settings, the vehicles don’t look that good – everything gets that smeared oil painting look.  Damage modeling is limited to minor dings and bumps.  Slamming into a rock outcropping or catching big air and landing on your roof might crack a side window.  Some bits of your vehicle can be bent but otherwise no visual affect. (Damage is tracked by the self-explanatory icons in the top right corner and does affect how your handling, steering, etc.)  But with MR’s arcade bent, the damage modeling is sorely missed.

 

master-rallye-3.jpg (68549 bytes)          master-rallye-4.jpg (50199 bytes)

 

My next gripe is the music – the overbearing, split-your-eardrums music.  The default setting drowns out everything so before you start, turn it down!  It’s fine music – average even.  The sound effects are integrated well but some of them sound too “mechanically” produced – not a natural sound of metal exploding into rock.

 

Multiplayer is achieved via LAN and split screen.  LAN play can actually be enjoyable and setting up the games are straightforward.  If you’ve got a choice, play via LAN because the other option is split-screen.

 

Master Rallye is solid in its execution and appeals to the casual gamer – it’s not buggy, there’s lots of racing and vehicles to drive around, minimal interface, and there’s some fun to be had.  In short, Master Rallye is average in a good way.

 

- Omni

 

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