Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
May 7th 2004
Introduction:Microsoft has already had one hit sequel with there first generation racing games in Project Gotham Racing 2. RalliSport Challenge highly anticipated return is back to follow the same road as its street racing counterpart. How does it fair? Please read on.
The Game:RalliSport Challenge 2 is a massive racing game focused on the popular Rally racing mainly based out of the United Kingdom. Although the sport might not be as popular as other racing styles in North America no gamers will have a hard time getting into the change of pace. There is no other racing like Rally racing, and once you endure a few tracks in the game you will gain a new level of respect for the drivers who choose the real deal. RalliSport Challenge 2 takes place all around the world on every type of terrain imaginable. It's no joke! In Rallisport racing you will have to use your skills to navigate up hills, across bridges, through forests in locations like the beautiful white Canada , Monte Carlo , and other exotic locations with no regard towards the weather conditions. Let's see those NASCAR boys do the oval on ice.
Developer Digital Illusions has beefed up this sequel considerably from the original in its two year hiatus. They have added an abundance of cars (40) and tracks (90) plus a larger career season and other modes to play. The main outstanding difference from the first RalliSport Challenge game is the inclusion of XSN, the Xbox Sport Network which wasn't even around when the original debuted. Now from your living room you can prove to the online world that you're the number one and you should be called the RalliSport king. There are hours upon hours of racing to enjoy offline or online. Since Project Gotham Racing 2's popularity online, I'm sure the servers will start to fill up and some good racing will be done.
Now with all those cars and tracks we need some great game modes. RalliSport Challenge 2 doesn't disappoint with an updated career mode which is based on the original accept it's divided up into 3 sections. Each section has a variation of tracks and cars to use and the new crossover feature which become a standard in other Rally games. You also have the option of customizing your vehicles specs before you race. The customization is best suited to refining your playing style and having more control over the car handles. For example you can increase the brake ratio between the front and rear tires or easily changes the type of tires before the races. The chances aren't noticeable in the begging but once you get more used to the game you will notice the subtleties.
As deep as the rest of the game is however the actual feeling of the game is still more arcade then simulation and you could easy compare it to the handling of Project Gotham Racing 2. Now it's not a bad thing, but I know there is a large group of gamers who would prefer a more simulated representation rather than the arcade slam in a wall and keep going action. The arcade take on the action makes it more accessible and overall more fun for the majority of gamers. If you are into more simulated Rally games you can always look for a copy of Codemasters Colin McRae Rally 04 which has less flash but more realism.
Graphics & Sound:The graphics of RalliSport Challenge are jaw dropping gorgeous. They have to be in the top ten of Xbox games ever made and it shows how much untapped resources developers are still pulling out of the Xbox system. The developer Digital Illusions added all the little touches in the environment which makes the game come alive. I was surprised to see leaves blowing at my Audio Quattro as I sped through a forest and mud and dust attach to my car when immersed in a race. Speaking of the environments they are beautiful and if you have a second take your eyes of the road and you might just see a people observing on cliffs or a nicely modeled waterfall.
The car models are also excellent and gladly don't have that extra shine to them. They also have a great damage model system which if hit in the right area can pretty much knock any part off your car. Most races you complete will have your bumper hanging of the car. Looks good, looks great!
RalliSport Challenge 2 sound department like the graphics are at the top of their game. The soundtrack is made up of mostly rock songs but doesn't become annoying like other games after an hour of playing. The sound in the game from the car, voices and ambience is best heard playing the game from the drivers perspective. Surround sound is a must and you'll love how amazing the game sounds. Digital Illusions are masters of the Xbox.. The audio definitely gets the job done.
Innovation:RalliSport Challenge 2 is a sequel so most of the innovations where proven in the first version, but an impressive innovation is like Project Gotham Racing 2, they have integrated Xbox Live perfectly with the game mechanics. Now bragging rights are all recorded and available in ghost downloads for viewing. Rally racing is based around timed runs and most races are done on an individual bases so the Live Leader board is great to have available. In the future I'm sure there will be XSN events which will make the sweet even sweeter.
Other than the integration of XSN, Rallysport Challenge 2 does little extra to expand past the boundaries set by other companies. The game is solid, but by no means revolutionary.
Mojo:Buckle those belts and get ready for one of the best driving experiences you ever played in a game. RalliSport Challenge 2 has the mojo and only a blind man could disagree. The cars are great and the option for more than one skins spices up the game allot. There is a wide variety of cars which keeps the mojo high and the boredom level low. The online play is great and really ups the competition level. Rallisport Challenge supports upto 16 players on Live which as you can guess gets a little tron like crazy! If you ask for fast adrenaline racing this is the place to be. The mojo of the rally world has arrived.
Lowdown:RalliSport Challenge 2 is everything you look for in a sequel and more. This is hands down one of the best driving experiences you can have on the Xbox. Pick this sucka up!
Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 10, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 10. Final: 9
GOTY AWARD: BEST RACING GAME OF 2004
- Intense competition: RalliSport Challenge 2 is the first racing title in the new XSN Sports brand. XSN Sports games let you compete in the first truly virtual sports league for your Xbox. Now you can easily set up a rally league on XSNsports.com, take out your rival over Xbox Live , and track up-to-date stats on your PC throughout your own rally season. All XSN Sports games bring the power of the Xbox and PC together for the first time through XSNsports.com, so you are always plugged into the competition.
- Off-road racing the way it should be: RalliSport features five unique rally sports, including the new Crossover duel that test a driver's skill and stomach for danger with extreme speeds on tracks that could send even the best driver on a collision course with disaster. From broken windows to missing hoods, RalliSport Challenge 2 features an updated graphics engine with realistic vehicle physics complete with damage modeling and performance degradation to test a driver's mettle.
- Start your engines: RalliSport also features more than 40 of the most challenging rally cars, including the infamous group B cars that were banned because of uncontrollable horsepower. Gamers will be able to make minor modifications to each car to meet the challenge of each track.
- Track the weather: Featuring nearly double the tracks of the original. Race on different tracks from Australia, the frozen Nordic, and the Pacific Northwest. Drive in variable weather conditions, including rain, snow, and fog. RalliSport Challenge 2 will test every driving skill you think you have-and some you didn't even know were physically possible. RalliSport also features new camera angles that focus on spectacular crashes and interactive environments, including breakaway signs, moving rocks, and new splash and rain effects.