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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Climax

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Plenty of curvaceous, well-designed levels
- Provides adequate challenge
- Controls are responsive

 

 

- License and Race of Champions mode is confusing early on
- Graphics could have been better
- Not enough cars

 

 

Review: Rally Fusion (Playstation 2)

Review: Mario Kart: Double-Dash (GC)

Review: Outrun 2 (XB)

 

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Rally Fusion

Score: 6.8 / 10

 

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Do you enjoy lots of mud slinging, plenty of curves, and heated competition? If you do, youíre probably one of two types of people: someone who likes watching womenís mud wrestling or a rally-car racing fan. Womenís mud wrestling fans can call the local strip joint to see when the next mud-wrestling extravaganza is scheduled, but for all you rally-car racing aficionados, Activisionís new rally-car racing title, Rally Fusion (RF) for the Xbox, is meant to appeal to you. But even though it can be a good ride at times, in the end RF makes a turn down Merely-Average Street and canít come anywhere near the excitement that youíll get from the other mud activity.

RF has a lot of revved-up features under its hood. Thereís a bunch of different modes including Follow the Leader, Elimination, Relay, and Rallycross. Nine

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different environments including rain forests and deserts are here (yes, thereís even mud-filled tracks) and 30 drivers are ready to compete against you in the Race of Champions. The gameís levels are filled with plenty of twists, turns and curves that will keep your fingers on the trigger as you negotiate the accelerator and brakes. The tracks are designed well too, giving racers a good variety of different and contrasting races to

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motor through.

Another plus for RF is the gameís visuals. While they certainly wonít overly impress you, they are generally of a high-speed viscosity (although they may disappoint those expecting better graphics from the Xbox version of the game). RFís vehicular graphics actually were just average at best, considering how spoiled Xbox racing gamers have been in this respect from past racing titles such as Project Gotham Racing and RalliSport Challenge.

Helping to accentuate RFís attempt at providing a touch of realism is some graphical touches like mud that builds up on your car while you are racing and progressive damage such as broken windows or missing front hoods and doors if you happen to get a little too reckless on the track.

But as soon as the game seems to get off the starting line in promising shape, a few gaskets start popping which throws a wrench into any chance the game had of achieving A-list status that has been reserved for Xbox rally-car racers RalliSport Challenge and Colin McRae 3. To start, there is only a scant amount of cars available in the game, 19 in all. In todayís racing gaming world where Sega GT and Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2) have multiple times that amount of cars, RF is a disappointment.

Even worse, RF forces you to race with particular cars for certain races in the Race of Champions, which can be a real drag when the car in question isnít one you would have chosen if you had the choice. I can guess this was done to give you a much harder challenge while at the same time letting you taste the flavor of RFís full range of motor machines, but it turns out backfiring when driving lesser-performing cars drains all the gas from your gaming fun.

RFís biggest speed bump on its way past Mediocrity Street is the hard-to-figure-out license and Race of Champions mode. Because of its not-too-well-thought-out implementation, you may get confused early on figuring out what your next racing goals are and exactly what vehicles youíll have at your disposal. It became increasingly frustrating in my early RF racing experiences trying to surmise where I was traveling next.

 

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You know, thereís nothing more annoying to me on a family-driving excursion than to have my wife offer critiques or suggestions on my driving technique. Multiply that annoyance by about ten and youíll get the feeling of how bothersome the remarks from your rally-car navigator can be. Yeah, buddy, I know rolling the car into that gully on the side of the track wasnít exactly good for our chances of winning. You donít have to rub it in with your smart-alecky remarks. Thatís one little touch of reality that RF could have definitely done without.

The gameís controls are actually very responsive, but in the same way as driving my minivan; the brakes stop when you want them to and the accelerator ramps up speed when you want them to, but a little too stop-on-a-dime well for a rally-car racing game. You should be able to slide through turns as real rally-car racers can and as both RalliSport Challenge and Colin McRae 3 have established as part of their much more realistic control scheme. In RF itís much too easy to get by on the tight stopping and accelerating controls while missing out on the mud-sliding fun that is rally-car racing.

The hardest obstacle a developer needs to hurtle when creating a new game in a well-established gaming genre is giving something new to the gamer that they havenít seen before. In the case of RF, the developer does a nice job of creating a good rally-car racing game with solid graphics and controls. But ultimately it fails to deliver on the havenít-seen-this-before features (and in fact falls a little short in the features it does provide) that would entice gamebuyers to choose RF over much better rally racing Xbox games RalliSport Challenge and Colin McRae 3.

If you are looking for a realistic Xbox rally car racing title packed with features, RF isnít your best choice. RalliSport Challenge and Colin McRae 3 are much more a true-to-life representation of what rally car racing really is all about. Check out RF as a rental first before selecting your rally-car racing title for your Xbox.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(February 3, 2003)

 

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