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“I have to admit to being a fan of the original Sega...”

Written on: 11/01/2006 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)

Good Points
Pure arcade racing
Pick up and play nature
Lots of replay potential
It's Sega Rally!

Bad Points
Atrocious music
Some dodgy track design
Slightly low frame rate in places

General Comments
I have to admit to being a fan of the original Sega Rally - for me it is the ultimate in arcade racing. Forget Ridge Racer, Scud Race, Daytona and the rest - Sega Rally is king. But what of the sequel?

I first saw it in the arcades several years ago, before the launch of the Dreamcast, and I was intrigued by the snowy locations in the rolling demo. Sega Rally only featured sunny locales, so I was interested what it would be like to race in variable weather conditions. When it rolled out onto the Dreamcast it was one of the first games I bought, and to be a little frank, I was a bit disappointed.

But first, the good stuff about Sega Rally 2. In the 4 years between this and the prequel, many more rally games had been and gone - most notably Colin McRae Rally, and that threw a whole host of new ideas into the mix. Even though Sega Rally 2 is a pure arcade experience, it seems Sega sat up and took notice of what other companies were doing and added some of these new features to the home conversion of Rally 2.

Most noticeable is the doing away with of the rather limited number of cars and tracks from the original. In Rally 2, there are a whole host of cars from Subaru (Impreza), Mitsubishi (Evolution), Peugeot (206) and the old favourites from Toyota and Lancia. The number of tracks has been boosted from 3 to about 12, with new locations (such as snow covered mountains and a moonlit Riviera) added to give more variety. Other new features are a sort of career mode where you race a number of 'seasons' in order to further your career and become world rally champion.

Alongside this, the traditional arcade mode still exists, with you battling against the clock and the field to make it to the number one spot before the finish line on the final stage.

The thing about Rally 2, that for me is a bit disappointing, is that the feel of the original just isn't there. The cars all handle with distinct differences, but the overall handling model is nowhere near as tight as in the first game. This is partly down to the ever so sluggish frame rate that makes you feel as though you are driving through porridge, and that none of the tracks are anywhere near as memorable or thrilling as the originals' three. In fact, due to the rather poor track design in places and the frame rate problems, many of the new tracks are nigh on impossible to play without slamming into every corner. When I say 'new,' that's because there are one or two of the original tracks included, but they've been tinkered with to the point that they look almost completely different apart from the layouts - the Desert track in particular.

The cosmetic side of the game is almost arcade perfect, apart from the aforementioned frame rate problems, but there are a few things that will niggle you. The draw in distance is pretty low in places, and you can see the track-side detail being drawn in by the hardware on certain tracks, and other tracks are swathed in fog that the developers may have thought looked good, but actually just serves to make the game look very untidy and murky.

There is no real time lighting (this looks odd on the night stages) and there are no damage effects on the cars.

In another bizarre move by Sega, gone are the raucous rock tunes from Rally 1, which is a bit of a shame, because for once, those tunes actually added to the experience. What you get in Rally 2 are a selection of incredibly cheesy, wet and totally out of place pop ditties that would be more appropriate in a supermarket! I am at a total loss as to why Sega would do this, but they have. The solution to this is to either turn the music off and just listen to the co-driver's commands and the meaty engine FX, or just mute the game and put your stereo on. Drastic, but it avoids the embarrassment of the soundtrack.

Music aside, as a stand-alone title Sega Rally 2 is a fairly decent game by anyone's standards. It is sufficiently playable and holds a lot of replay value and gameplay modes (career, time attack, arcade etc) - and there is a (rather shoddy) two-player mode in there as well. But that's where the problem lies - Sega Rally 2 is not a stand-alone title made by Acclaim or EA, or any other company who are happy to publish average games. Sega Rally 2 is the sequel to the greatest arcade racer ever created, and should and could have been so much more than this. It's OK, but not the phenomenal title we were all hoping for.

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