Buckle up. Microsoft takes to the dirt in its
latest racer, and there's no slowing down.
Since the Xbox's release, there have been several mediocre
racing titles released that haven't exactly lived up to expectations.
Even Project Gotham Racing turned me off through many of the similar,
short tracks. As a fan of racing games, I've been waiting for something
to fend off my lust to keep me sitting on my couch for more than 15 minutes.
When it came, however, I did not expect it to be Digital Illusion's new
rally title, Rallisport Challenge.
So thus I sat down and endorsed what faced me; speed,
graphics, challenges, and excitement. The first thing I noticed, though,
was the beautiful graphics. More notably, the extremely detailed tracks
and lighting present in the game. Sometimes I risked my position to get
a better look at my surroundings, after all, it was hard not to. The
swaying trees, ground, hills, etc. no longer look flat or unattractive,
Digital Illusions did a great job in making them look as real as possible.
Ice, tarmac, mud, water or dirt, they are all rendered
in a very realistic fashion. The ice looks slippery and shiny, as if
the sun is actually shining from above. Mud sprays from your tires as
you take that sharp turn. All in all, I would say Rallisport Challenge
has the best looking tracks that have ever graced a console.
"Racing through each course and mode is just a blast and indeed very fast. "
The car models are also well done including reflections,
coatings of mud as you race through muddy tracks, and even a pair of
racers clearly visible in the interior of the car. However, one of the
coolest things about the cars is that they take damage through rolls,
flips, collisions, etc. After making some very bad judgments and literally
falling off a cliff or rolling it several times off the ice and into
the snow, the car started to look like a crumpled up piece of paper.
You can literally blow the hood, windshields, and hubcaps off the vehicle.
However, as cool as it may seem, your performance decreases so it would
be best to try and not send your little steamroller into hell.
Unlike other Xbox titles, (Shrek anyone?) with these
great graphics also comes great gameplay. Throughout the game you'll
have the chance to play through four distinctive types of rallying; RallyCross,
Ice Racing, Hill Climb, and traditional Rally. Rally, unlike other races,
takes place on a point track. There are no laps involved, your goal is
to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible.
Competition does not take place wheel-to-wheel, but alone trying to finish
with less time than your opponents. As you cross checkpoints, your time
will be displayed as well as others so you can see how you are progressing.
Unlike Rally, Rallycross is more of a traditional type
of race. This time you must complete an amount of laps, wheel-to-wheel,
through mixed terrain. You'll be pitting your machine against three others
all at once for some intense competition.
Certainly the most out of control race type, Ice Racing
is exactly what it sounds. You'll compete wheel-to-wheel on a slick,
treacherous track. The ice physics are very good, so you better learn
the key to success with breaking and acceleration to keep from throwing
yourself off the track and into the snow banks.
"Intense racing, easy controls."
The last type of race, which is certainly interesting,
is Hill Climb. Once again, you'll be racing through treacherous courses
full of weather and rough terrain. You'll be pushing your car to the
limits as you race up against steep inclines and corners. Careful, you
don't want to slide off the cliff.
Each race type is very fun, however, you must play through
Career Mode to unlock the levels to race in them in Single Player, Time
Attack, or Multiplayer Modes. Career Mode starts you in the Pro circuit
with a limited selection of cars. You choose your car for the type of
race you select and try and win the stages in the race. However, you
do not have to complete each stage with first position to win the race.
After completing a stage, points are awarded. If you get the highest
amount of points at the end of a race, you win the trophy.
As you progress through the different race classes -
Pro, Expert, Classic, and Unlimited - new groups of cars will be unlocked
to compete with the higher classes. Being a consistent superior racer
will open up special bonus cars (such as earning 120,000 total points).
Each class has different race types as well, thus giving you the opportunity
to play them and their tracks in new modes.
The other types of modes include Single Race, Time Attack,
and Multiplayer. Single Race lets you compete against three other computer-controlled
opponents on any unlocked track. You won't earn any points but you can
use Single Races to improve your skills on the multitude of tracks included
in the game. The other mode, Time Attack, let's you race undistracted
through any track you unlock. No other racers will be present and you
won't attain additional points to add towards new cars and events.
The significant difference between Single Race and Time
Attack is that, once completing your best runs, you can save a ghost
in which you can re-race anytime. This gives you the opportunity to race
against yourself and try to improve the mistakes you made on the track
in the past and get better times. You can only create these ghosts in
Time Attack Mode.
Now who doesn't enjoy the thrill of kicking the crap
out of your friends in your favorite games? Multiplayer Mode lets you
race up to three other players and hopefully "own" them and win that
ten-spot you bet them. If you're really tasting that money, you can set
a Time Elimination option which drops a player from the race when he/she
is 30 seconds behind the leader. That 10 dollars is almost in your grasp!
Now that we've covered all the race types and modes,
let's move onto the real gameplay. Fun, as well as other factors come
together to make Rallisport Challenge exciting. Each level was designed
perfectly for races and not just for looks. You may be heading down a
long straight at high speeds and suddenly have to hit an unpredictable
hard, right turn. Your car reacts to each, different environment, speed,
and turn, so it's a good idea to learn how to control yourself in mud,
wet tarmac, or ice.
Having some trouble learning the track? In Rally and
Hill Climb races, a "co-driver" will provide voice and visuals to warn
you and direct you throughout the track. There is an option to turn these
off, however, I wouldn't advise doing so. His directions can help you
in determining when to slow down and when to hit the gas, which ultimately
are factors in winning the race.
Racing through each course and mode is just a blast and
indeed very fast. Sharp turns, slick roads, intense jumps and more; the
action of the race never ceases. Damageable vehicles make you
fight for position as well as conditions. Prepare yourself, for you won't
be leaving your TV for quite some time.
The audio quality also fits in with the quality of the
graphics and gameplay. You can always hear your car's engine raging,
the sound of your tires on different grounds, the collisions and rolls.
Of course, the most important audio element is the ability to add your
own music soundtracks. Not many Xbox titles have incorporated this great
feature yet. Who doesn't like the idea of listening to your favorite
songs for some intense racing?
Intense racing, easy controls. You use the right trigger
for acceleration, the left trigger for break, and the stick to control
the movements of the car. A is used for emergency break while B and X
are used for gear shifting. Other important controls are Y to change
the camera view, Black to look back, and White to reassert the car on
track. You shouldn't have any pain racing throughout Rallisport Challenge,
control is fairly easy.
Scott "VeX" Kuss
Too many gas fumes made him forget to include a tagline.
RalliSport Chalenge: The Scores
Rallisport Challenge features quality all around and
non-stop fun. It's the best racer out on the Xbox. If
you want a solid, great looking and fast paced racing
title; Rallisport Challenge is the one to own.