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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Digital Illusions

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

March 2002

 

 

- Great Graphics
- Good A.I.
- Ice Racing is a blast
- Customizable soundtrack

 

 

- Few customization possibilities outside soundtrack
- Short career mode compared to other racers on market

 

 

Review: Rally Fusion (XBox)

Review: Rally Trophy (PC)

 

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Rallisport Challenge

Score: 8.8 / 10

 

rallisport-challenge-1.jpg (41335 bytes)  rallisport-challenge-2.jpg (39106 bytes)  rallisport-challenge-3.jpg (39926 bytes)

 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way -- Rallisport Challenge is a gorgeous game. Every visual element is top in its class for driving games. The cars are well-modeled down to the second driver in the passenger seat. The textures are crisp and high-res with impressive bump-mapping. The draw distance is relatively deep and flicker-free, though there is some obvious draw-in. This is the racing game that finally takes the graphics crown away from Gran Turismo 3 (and, yes, I have played Project Gotham). Other than some aliasing on the car models and in the distant backgrounds, Rallisport features amazing graphics that certainly add to the game’s play experience.

Along with looking great, Rallisport sounds pretty good also. The sound effects are fairly standard, but the soundtrack is energetic and engaging, and even if a player doesn’t like it, Rallisport features the option to play music from the Xbox’s hard drive. To this day, playing ripped songs does more to make the Xbox seem “next-

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gen” to me than any other feature. The voice of the co-driver warning of upcoming changes on the courses is a pretty nice bonus.

The quality of the game’s visuals and sound is nearly matched by the choice of game modes. Players can choose from a single player mode (where they will compete against three computer controlled opponents), a multi-player mode (with up to three buddies), a

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time attack mode (players pick one track and try to improve their times), and (the meat-and-potatoes mode) a career mode. Within the career mode, players will encounter Rally, Rallycross, Ice Racing, and Hill Climb modes. Though the modes are varied, other options are not present. Cars can only be adjusted slightly. Players can tweak tire usage, the suspension, gear ratio, power ratio and steering. Otherwise, this is standard arcade (pick up and play) racing. Anyone expecting the depth and complexity of games like GT3 and Sega GT will be sorely disappointed.

As far as arcade racers go, the realism is slightly above average. Cars seem to have weight and are not nearly as “floaty” as the cars in other rally games. More importantly, the controls are tight and consistent. I never felt that I failed to win a race because of the game engine, nor did I feel that the “A.I.” relied too much on the rubber-banding seen in other games of this ilk. Other than the inexplicable bumping that goes on at the beginning of every Rallycross race, the computer controlled cars seem to take smart lines around the track and behave somewhat realistically. The main complaint I have with the racing in Rallisport is a product not of the game’s design, but of the intricacies of rally racing in general. Racing against the clock, with no other cars on the track, might be fun and challenging in real life, but exchanging paint with other cars on a track is simply more fun. Though the Rallycross races allow this, much of the racing is done against the clock and it can get pretty repetitive for all but the most dedicated Rally fan.

Rallisport Challenge is a fine game, but it isn’t the best value out there. It is possible to open up every car and track in a few sittings and, after that, all that is left to do is try to beat previous times. The multi-player racing is solid, but offers nothing that gamers haven’t seen in hundreds of titles over the years. In the end, many players will likely find this game sitting on their shelves after a few weeks of staring at the pretty graphics. More un-lockable features, multi-player modes, and car upgrade options would be very welcome here and would have made Rallisport Challenge one of the best games for Microsoft’s brilliant new system. As it is, RC is a solid game that players can get a few weeks of fun out of and use to show off their new system to friends.

- Tolen Dante
(April 8, 2002)

 

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