The Sega Rally series has been extremely popular on the arcade scene for a very long time, but has rarely graced the console format. It would seem that Sega have decided it is time to bring their popular rally racing series to the Xbox 360 console with the release of Sega Rally Revo. While Sega Rally Revo doesn't have a tremendous amount of depth, nor does it have a long feature set, it makes up for it with a fast-paced, frantic gameplay that should please most racing fans.
Jumping straight into the game you will be presented with a simple menu interface allowing for the choice of four game modes. The quick race mode is pretty self explanatory, allowing you to quickly jump into one of the tracks that you have unlocked. Time attack allows you to race each track against the times from players around the world on a global or friends leaderboard. A nice touch to the time attack mode is the ability to use other player’s ghost cars to race against or the chance to upload your own. Whilst the time attack feature is nice, you get the impression that it could have been integrated into the other modes easily which has been seen in other racing titles recently.
There is a multiplayer mode which allows you to either play the game head-to-head (2 player split screen) on a single console or against up to six players online via Xbox Live. The Xbox Live multiplayer mode is particularly nice, as you have a choice from unranked games or ranked games, where you will earn points in a global leaderboard. One major setback when playing Sega Rally online, however, is the sheer lack of players online. Be prepared to wait in the lobby as players will slowly connect (and often leave) whilst preparing for a complete six player game. Thankfully, during online play the game will rarely lag and uses a global voice communication system so you can taunt your opponents as you slide into their side at 140mph.
The last mode, called championship, features a total of 33 rallies over three different classes of cars, ranging from at least 30 different 4WD, 2WD and famed classic rally vehicles. Each rally covers several tracks and follows the typical tournament style points system to calculate the winner of each race. Whilst there is not a large amount of rallies to choose from, this is made exceedingly worse by the complete lack of track quantity. Boasting only a total of 16 tracks, you will notice before long that you are repeating the same tracks time and time again, often only varied by being raced in reverse.
Without a doubt the most important aspect of a racing game is how enjoyable it actually is to play and whilst Sega Rally is lacking in content, it certainly does provide a fantastic, thrilling rally experience. Sticking to its arcade roots, Sega Rally strips out popular features from other similar games, such as limiting the game by using the invisible wall trick, so that you cannot leave the track at any time (and unfortunately can take corners by simply ploughing around the walls). Another feature that is missing is any form of damage modeling and the ability to degrade your cars performance over the length of a rally. This would have been appreciated, as without it you can drive as fast and hard as you like and suffer no penalty for crashing into everything in sight.
Now that the negative aspects have been put aside, it’s hard to not overemphasize just how bloody enjoyable Sega Rally is. Driving at break neck speeds you will feel every bump in the road and the dirt tear under your wheels. The most impressive aspect of Sega Rally is the terrain that truly reacts like you would expect it to. Driving over mud, dirt, snow, tarmac, ice or even through water will completely change the handling of the car in an instant, and thanks to fantastic use of the Xbox 360 controllers rumble you will feel each one too.
Not only does the terrain feel and control as you would expect, it will surprisingly deform as it would if a car was to drive over it at 130mph. The popular feature that Sega have been pushing for this new racer is deformable tracks, which literally creates carves in the road at each of your four tires, as well the other 5 opponents. This results in a beautiful landscape being turned into a bog of mud, water and ice. Not only is this feature impressive and graphically fantastic, but the cars actually react differently if you were to drive though your old carves; as your car is now technically driving on a slush of ice, bog of wet mud or simply groves on a dusty terrain. This means that you have two choices on each lap around a track—either follow the correct path (which has now been turned into chaos) or take the more dangerous route which is still clean.
Going from race-to-race you will soon find that the artificial intelligence is unforgiving and will constantly push you to perform at your best, as the slightest mistake will result in you losing your current position. Thankfully, the balance has been designed to allow for this, as you are not expected to outright win every single race and will still be rewarded with new tracks, rallies and cars for finishing second or even third. Given the difficult nature of a rally racing game, you will need to handle every corner with a speedy powerslide which varies massively on the different terrain and corner possibilities. Expect to maintain a powerslide for an excessive amount of time over an icy bend or sliding from a left corner into a right one over water drenched mud and hills. Unlike other racing games, becoming number one on each and every race is something you will have to work for.
Graphically, Sega Rally is a beauty to behold, not only does the aforementioned deformable terrain look astonishing, but each layer of terrain is stunningly detailed. Thankfully, it is not only the terrain that looks great. The entire track is extremely detailed, far beyond the typical barren rally landscapes that you would expect. You will race through forest, jungles, deserts, streets, mountains, glaciers and even tropical paradises; the games environments simply are phenomenal. The attention to detail is superb as you will notice whilst driving that birds will flutter past, planes often fly overhead and there is a constant activity around the tracks such as crowd excitement or even wild animals (Ed – Enjoying the race no doubt!). This attention to detail continues into the race as cars will quickly become covered in a combination of dirt, mud, water or ice mashed together. Worry not, however, as whilst you are getting your own car filthy, you are continually flinging mud and debris behind you blocking the other players view.
In terms of audio, the game continues its fantastic quality providing great sound effects which includes everything from the wind being sliced by your speed, the engine being pushed to its limits to even the gravel grinding under the weight of your vehicle. The music tracks are very simple and often dull as they try not to distract you from the game, but, unfortunately they fail to do this do because of the repetitious nature of the songs. Thankfully, Sega Rally makes up for this with a great co-driver voiceover that does not confuse or complicate the race but clearly warns you of each corner as you come hurtling towards it.
Overall Sega Rally is a highly enjoyable rally racer which fans of the series and racing fans in general are sure to enjoy. Unfortunately the game does itself damage by having very little depth and running out of new tracks long before you have even considered being satisfied. That being said, it is easy to realise if the developers simply included more of the same and added features that have become expected with racing games, then Sega Rally could have been the ultimate rally racing experience. Nonetheless, racing fans looking for a new fix should take a look at Sega Rally Revo.