Sega Rally Revo Review
I remember first hearing the announcement of Sega Rally hitting next-gen consoles, a part of me had a feeling that we'd finally see a proper Sega Rally game again. The return of Sega Rally has been keenly followed by fans of the arcade series, die-hard Sega fans, and rally fans. With the demise of Microsoft's own RalliSport franchise, Sega Rally has arrived just in time to fill in that void. We've played numerous builds of the game throughout the year, and it's been nice to see just how well the game's come along with every one of them.
I'm happy to report that whatever plagued Sega Rally Revo at E3 has been resolved completely for the final release. First thing's first, you have to remember that Sega Rally Revo is an arcade racer primarily. With that in mind, the game's controls are setup for sharp cornering and drifting. You won't find yourself using the brakes often, as the cars will whip their tails around just about every corner, unless you're rounding about hairpins. Thankfully, the overly loose controls from E3 have been cured, too.
The cars feel a little weightless at first, though considering the lack of concrete traction you have, it's nothing out of the ordinary. But when you get used to the game, you'll start finding ways to exploit their characteristics around every bend. The stages exhibit fantastic design, with multiple turns linked together in order to really excel the sense of speed and thrill. And it works. Some of the stages feel downright like rollercoasters. Performing turns keeps the camera directed at a semi-profile angle, where you can see both the side of your car and what's up ahead. There's just something exciting about seeing your car's profile as it carves the road and deteriorates it.
The road deformation is completely real time, and it looks stunning as it unravels. With each passing lap, you'll tear up more and more of the track, in some areas turning up mud and such. Likewise, mud will splatter all over your car, as will snow. In the E3 version, mud and snow looked incomplete, as their details were very low-resolution and awfully pixilated. That has been resolved, as clumps of mud and snow will cover your car, and always look solid while doing it. Road deterioration actually affects gameplay too, as your handling will be affected when your car's wheels are riding through the grooves you've created in the mud or snow.
There are three car classes, Premier, Modified, and Classics. The Premier car lineup consists of the popular rally racers such as the iconic Subaru Impreza WRX STi (Spec-C Type RA), The Lancer Evolution IX (FX340), Citroen Xsara RallyCross 2004, Skoda Fabia, Ford Focus RS, Peugeot 206, and more. The Modified list of cars inclues: Skoda Octavia (Kit Car), Volkswagen Golf GTI Mark V, Citroen C2 Super 1600, Toyota Celica T230, Peugeot 207, and more.
The Classic lineup consist of vehicles legendary in the rally circuit, such as the: Toyota Celica ST205, Lancia Super Delta HF, Ford Escort RS Cosworth, Audi A2 Quattro, Peugeot 205 T16, Lancia Stratos, and others. By now, it should be well apparent that Sega Rally boasts a fantastic lineup of vehicles - over 30 in total, with secret cars including a highly modified Hummer 3, RUF Rt12 (a modified Porsche 997/911 Carrera S), and the Lancer Evolution X Concept.
Gameplay modes include Championship, Quick Race, Time Attack, and Multiplayer. Mark my words, no matter which mode you choose, you will spend quite a bit of time in it. Because the game has a decent number of vehicles to choose from, about half of them will need to be unlocked. So as you progress in the game, and earn the necessary amount of points, you'll unlock vehicles. There's no secret to unlocking the cars either, as the game explains what you have to achieve in order to be rewarded with a new car.
Track selection is another strong aspect for Sega Rally. I've already mentioned how great the tracks are and how much fun they are to drive around on. Thankfully, you'll have a total of 15 tracks (30 if you count reversed) to cause as much mudslinging chaos as you want. Scattered across five stunning locales are three tracks per location, all of which can be raced on reversed. Apparently a sixth locale called Lakeside is unlockable. And for every time you run around the tracks, you can choose to have your game stay connected and have your results automatically added to the leaderboards. But if you're up for some real multiplayer, a total of six racers can compete.
Between the E3 build and the demo, changes in visuals aren't going to be entirely noticeable to some. But I can see that the cars have more polish to them, the mip-mapping on the road has been toned down considerably, and some of the textures look better. And with the improved mud and snow splattering, Sega Rally Revo is quite a nice looking game. As far as racing games go, Revo is a splendid looking title with some of the most vibrant track details to date. The game is a sight to see, if only to witness just how lush everything on screen looks. While the car details don't exhibit the same detail as say, Gran Turismo 5, or Project Gotham 4, they still do an admirable job in completing the look.
Most importantly though, Sega Rally wouldn't have been a proper racer if the framerate didn't do its job. And thankfully, Sega Rally boasts a terrific framerate that moves the game at a brisk 30 frames, and never gets any lower, while rendering at 720p. Unfortunately, some will be disappointed, seeing as how Sega was aiming at 60, but Sega Rally Revo is still a great performer. I've also noticed that during replays you can actually see the wind-wake from the cars disturb the swaying grass and shrubbery.
Unusually enough that was a feature that DiRT touted, but didn't execute very well (if at all). And speaking of DiRT, I can honestly say that I prefer the visuals, and especially lighting, of Sega Rally far over DiRT. Where as DiRT constantly burned you with a sun in your face and overdone lighting, Sega Rally is nothing but eye-candy with exuberant track details and incredible colors.
The audio in Sega Rally is precisely what you'd expect, if you're a fan of the series. A rock/metal soundtrack composed by the folks at Sega accompanies your driving experience. And of course, a co-pilot reads off the twists, turns and hazards on every track as you approach them. The cars themselves sound very nice, and sound particularly better when you're playing the game using the first-person/bonnet view. There isn't a whole lot to hear, but what else can you really do for audio in a racing game, right?
After a poor Sega Rally attempt on the PlayStation 2, which never saw the light of day in the US, Sega Rally Revo is precisely the comeback that we've been wanting and waiting for. Things can only get bigger and better for the franchise from here on. With crisp visuals that feed your eyes nothing but visual sugary sweets, and gameplay that engrosses you from the start to finish[line], Sega Rally Revo really does have everything rally fans, racing fans, and fans of the arcade franchise will love. Best of all, with multiplayer, and a solid number of things to unlock (such as cars and tracks), you're certainly getting your money worth.
10/14/2007 Arnold Katayev