STAFF REVIEW of Rallisport Challenge (Xbox)

Wednesday, March 20, 2002.
by VAN

Rallisport Challenge Box art I've always enjoyed racing games. When I first plugged RSC into my Xbox, I was breathless in anticipation. After a short while, I began taking note of some of the games downfalls, and, perhaps prematurely, passed poor judgement on the game.

Now 8 hours into the game, I can honestly say that it is truly one of the greatest racing titles I've ever played. Bar none. Gorgeous graphics which must be seen to be appreciated, a solid control set, and tons of race modes and challenges make for a racer that has lasting value, and is deserving of shelf space in any gamers collection.

The control scheme in RSC is pretty straightforward. Steering can be accomplished using either the left analog stick, or the D-pad, while braking and acceleration is controlled by the shoulder-mounted triggers of the Xbox control pad. Pressure-sensitive braking with the left trigger works surprisingly well. Controls are solid and the vehicle responds wonderuflly.

One complaint that I have in regards to gameplay itself is one that many people before me have mentioned. The fact that the computer seems to choose at random when you have veered too far off course can quickly become frustrating. Sometimes you can drive quite far off course and still manage to get your car turned around, while other times if you barely graze the outskirts of the track, your car will be re-set by the computer.

The default HUD contains a poorly placed navigation map which really makes it difficult to see the road ahead of you. This can be disabled in the game options, but I would have preferred to have the map placed in a corner of the screen instead. This is only a slight problem, and in no way detracts from the overall appeal of the game.

Adjusting to the controls, as with any game, will take some time, but once you have spent some time "behind the wheel", they become second nature and you'll be able to spend more time appreciating the games breathtaking visuals.

RSC is easily one of the most (if not THE most) visually stunning racers ever released. Period. The environments have been re-created in amazing detail, with nary a stutter in framerate. Textures such as snow, ice, sand, and concrete have been represented to near photorealistic quality.

The vehicles in RSC, while a little on the blocky side, look just like their larger, real-life counterparts, and each one is a blast to drive.

Subtle details such as vehicle spark arrestors periodically flaring from the exhaust pipe help to add to the realism of the game.

This is the one area in which I feel the developers could have taken a little extra time. By default, the game is played with engine and voice sounds cranked up, while the background music is barely audible. This problem is easily corrected to provide a better balance in the games set-up options.

Ambient sounds are present, but not over-powering, and the voice of your brave navigator is clear and crisp--though slightly irritating after a few hours of gameplay.

The vehicles themselves have no distinct engine sounds. Whether you choose to pilot a Ford Focus Cosworth, a Suburu Impreza, or a Mitsubishi Lancer, you'll be hard pressed to notice a difference in sound. Engine noise is more of a monotonous, droning sound than a complimentary auditory addition, and it really detracts from the gameplay, so I recommend cranking the level way down in the games options.

There is a custom soundtrack option, and since the games pre-loaded music library is rather limited, you may want to load up some custom tracks. I recommend System of a Down, Metallica, or P.O.D.

I would really enjoy a "create-a-car" (similar to that in Nascar Thunder 2002)feature where I can build my own rally racer from scratch.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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