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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Actualize

 

Developer

Warthog

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

October 2001

 

 

- Great Rally game

- Cool damage effects

- Real-life physics

- Replay almost like watching TV

- Tweak your car

- Many different cars to drive

 

 

- Menu interface clunky as hell

- Badly needs a difficulty setting  

- Flimsy manual doesn’t explain much

- Multiplayer

 

 

Review: Rally Fusion (XBox)

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

Review: Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)

 

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Rally Championship Xtreme

Score: 6.9 / 10

 

Replicating speed is a difficult thing to do on a computer game.  Rally Championship Xtreme (RCX) manages to do it very well.  It also manages to present some of the most interesting environments and racing conditions I’ve come across in recent memory.  You’ll race through the Scottish country side, through loading docks, and across desert sand – your car responding realistically to the various bumps and crags in the “road” and whatever modifications you’ve made to the car settings (like gear ratio, ride height, etc.).  The graphics are fantastic – great sprays of gravel, realistic body damage, interesting tracks, and other environmental highlights like hang gliders and wind generators going about their work.  At times you’ll get caught up in the action and could swear you’re watching the event on TV.  RCX is one cool game!  

 

Rally_Championship_Xtreme_1.jpg (52900 bytes)          Rally_Championship_Xtreme_2.jpg (47011 bytes)

But you say, “Omni, if it’s so good, why’d you only give it a 6.9?”

Don’t get ahead of me, I’m getting to that – don’t rush me!

Firstly, it’s got the flimsiest manual for a game of this type I’ve come across.  There are just the bare bones – no good explanations for just about everything (including how to successfully unlock the cars and tracks).  It does include a couple of pages of driving tips but I know there’s got to be more for such a complex driving event.  Secondly, the menu interface is clunky.  Reassigning keys is cumbersome at best – and the manual makes a mistake when it says “Esc/P” controls the “in-game pause function.”  Well, “P” does it just fine but “Esc” doesn’t do a damn thing.  Once you’ve picked one of the play modes (Championship, Arcade, Quick Play, Challenge, or Multiplayer) you’ll start to feel more at home.

“At home?”

It’s just you and your co-pilot shooting down rugged roads like a bat out of hell, racing from checkpoint to checkpoint, trying to best your opponents’ times (or just get to the next checkpoint in Arcade mode).  If that’s not home I don’t know what is!  But I wanted to leave home after 4 straight days of heavy playing and not climbing high enough in the standings to move onto the next rally event.  Rallies are linear – you must successfully finish in the standings so you can move onto the 

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next.  RCX is not an easy game.  There isn’t even a difficulty setting, so you can expect to replay rally after rally in an effort to trim more time off, searching for whatever shortcuts you can find.  Fortunately, the wide-open nature of rally racing does offer the chance to cut through fields or perform some demented skid-turns.  The cutting-through-fields method turned out to be the only way I could finish high enough in the standings to continue.

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There are lots of real world cars to drive – from the Scoda Octavia to the VW Golf – but many of them have to be unlocked.  Due to the challenge of the game, unlocking them is one tough thing to do.  And getting the other rally tracks unlocked doesn’t make sense.  After (finally) finishing the Scottish (first) rally high enough to move on, I couldn’t access the new rally under other game types, like Quick Play or Arcade.  I turned to the manual and learned . . . nothing.

Midway through each rally you get the chance to repair various aspects of your car or make modifications to your specs.  You can also save during these mid-points.  However, when you load a game, even if it was saved after you’ve fixed up your car, it loads to before you made those repairs forcing you to make the changes again.  This gets aggravating real fast when you screw up and want to start over.  Plus, there’s no “restart race” option – you have to abort the race then back out to the main menu to load a game.  Too many steps!

“Omni, it really sounds like you didn’t enjoy RCX.”  

Rally_Championship_Xtreme_3.jpg (62649 bytes)          Rally_Championship_Xtreme_4.jpg (60202 bytes)

The answer is yes, and no.  As I said before, the physics and graphics are great.  And not enough can be said of the body damage modeling.  Losing a wheel isn’t uncommon on a big collision, not to mention the various pieces that splinter off as you clip a tree or lose control and get airborne off a rock.  The actual racing portion of RCX is a lot of fun – it’s even neat to watch the replays. (And don't forget multiplayer over Internet and LAN.)  If the problems of the menu interface, the all-to thin manual, and lack of variable difficulty were addressed before I got a hold of it, Rally Championship Xtreme would have scored much higher.

As it is, Rally Championship Xtreme is a mixed experience – but I’m hoping that a sequel (or at least some kind of patch) will make it more wholly awesome.

- Omni

 

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