Review: Game Over... Yeah.
In many ways, one can consider Sega to be an adventurer, leaving a trail of food as a way to easily exit a confusing jungle or forest. Only in Sega's case, they leave their famous franchises lying around just in case they're needed rather than food. It's been almost 10 years since we last saw a Sega Rally game here, that being Sega Rally 2 on the Dreamcast. With the advent of the Sega Racing Studio out in Europe, you knew that one of their marquee racing franchises was due to make a reappearance, and it turned out to be Sega Rally Revo. Combining the modern design necessary for a console game with the quirks of its arcade roots, Revo probably won't compete with DiRT or any other current competitors in terms of content and variety, but the game does offer exactly what Sega Rally has delivered in the past ? challenging gameplay, thanks to aggressive AI and even more aggressively difficult courses to race on. It's kind of stuck between the past and the present in many ways, but for fans of arcade-style racing it's worth checking out.
Sega Rally has always been about arcade-style racing, with questionable physics, overly challenging AI, and alas, shallow feature sets. Sega Rally Revo tries to fix all of that, and offer a slightly more realistic take on rally racing without abandoning the roots of the series. No, you shouldn't expect something on the level of DiRT, or the old World Rally Championship PS2 games, but the effort has been taken to offer a more grounded game, that's not as over-the-top as its contemporaries. The initial car class, dubbed Premier, contains familiar WRC-class vehicles, like the Impreza, Evolution IX, and Ford Focus. These tend to have looser, easier to handle physics, making it possible to fly through some corners without touching the brake, as long as you master its turning abilities. If you don't take the corner properly, you'll end up smacking into the wall which is a fitting punishment. When you start moving into the Modified class and up to the Masters ? containing the cars that were once banned from racing due to being killing machines - things get more and more difficult, thanks to cars that require expert navigation and handling skills due to the obvious added weight and horsepower. This can be done using the D-Pad or analog stick...or you can enable Sixaxis handling which is hit or miss, a common trend with PS3 games.
While there's no vehicle damage, keeping some arcade roots, the world around you can be as much of an enemy as the other 5 cars in a race. The five different track types ? ranging from a desert outback to a cold, icy Alaska-like terrain, all have various tricks to slow you down. Take the Arctic tracks, with icy roads leading to more difficult cornering, and snowy portions that do the same. Other tracks, such as Safari, have puddles of water that can stop you dead, making it a priority to dodge them if at all possible. Muddy areas can cause a loss in traction when taking a corner, and of course, pure tarmac can lead to some very fast movement, though it's definitely possible to screw up thanks to how loose the cars feel on it. Depending on the choice of physics you choose ? be it off-road or street ? you get different results, giving one single car two possible disciplines. It's unfortunate that the current PS3 controller does not support rumble, as a game like this really needs it. Hopefully they'll patch it in when the Dual Shock 3 comes out. Like any good arcade racer, Sega Rally Revo also has plenty of tricks to try to mess you up, like airplanes flying overhead or various off-track activities. Dealing with AI racers is just one of the many directions you're being attacked from.
Revo's single player game offers plenty of races, but struggles with a lack of track variety, as there are the 5 ?core? courses with different variations, rather than unique individual tracks. This is covered by the lengthy Championship mode, split into the three car classes, which in turn is split into 4 different events ranging from the basic Amateur difficulty all the way to Expert. These designations are no joke either ? Amateur is an easy, break-you-in series with winnable races and moderately aggressive AI, but Expert removes the ?in? and simply breaks you with challenging (one could say cheap) opponents and the trickiest courses. Alas, in order to unlock the other classes, you have to at least give it a try, as even if you race poorly you get points which in turn open up these classes, and then you can start over with easy AI all the way up to annihilation. Without question, however, it's difficult to progress through the tougher events and thanks to the lack of track variety the game has a tendency to get boring and frustrating. Other than the Championship mode, all you get are quick race, time trial, and multiplayer options, leaving the game fairly bare in the cupboard. At the least, online offers 6 player racing so if you find enough people to play the replay value is there.
Sega Rally Revo is really sharp visually. It only runs at 30 frames, but given the amount of activity on the screen, that's no big deal. All the different courses have their own details, like the aforementioned distractions, but the star is the deformation of the tracks and cars. Racing through a lap, you might do things that affect the environment the next time through, and it can alter your own strategy, though not to any extremes. Not only that, but your car can accumulate a ton of dirt and grime over the course of a race, and though it has no real purpose, it at least makes it look like you're racing. It wouldn't be cool to race through snow and look like the car just came from the showroom floor. And (at first) they really do too, the cars look great before you run them through the ringer. The audio is classic Sega, with the cheesy rock music and the familiar co-driver who gives directions out at the last second and then sometimes throws out that ?maybe? to add some chaos. There's also sound effects to match the terrain; it really does sound like you're splashing through a puddle or sliding across the snow.