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The Sega Rally franchise is one that holds a special place in my gaming consciousness, so when any new version is announced I am always going to give it a spin. This latest version is essentially a home port of 2008's Sega Rally 3, which was developed alongside the PS3 and Xbox 360 game from the same time.
That original game received critical plaudits but only modest sales, so it's a little surprising to see Sega seemingly re-release the same game, three years on.
Except Sega Rally Online Arcade isn't the same game, it's quite different. Much of the content has been stripped from that game, but also some tweaks have been applied and most excitingly, the Desert course from the original 1995 game.
Those aforementioned tweaks take the form of improvements to the games handling. Cars in the previous Xbox release felt artificially light, with an odd lack of weight from the front-engined cars. Thankfully this has been addressed for Sega Rally Online Arcade.
The handling still isn't realistic.
The handling still isn't realistic, it's Sega Rally, and it shouldn't be, but the handling in Sega Rally Online Arcade feels much closer to that of the original Rally. Front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive cars feel pretty much the same as each other which underlines the fact that this game sits firmly in the Arcade camp.
There's a good spread of cars on offer, with everything from Citroen to Skoda represented, as well as the classic Lancia Delta and Toyota Celica (it's not Sega Rally without them!) however the cars all feel a little bit dated, particularly stuff like the mkI Ford Focus, or Citroen Xsara. It makes the title feel old, which given its basis, it is. A little more effort from Sega to include, for arguments sake, the MINI Countryman, would have made a huge difference to the game and made it feel considerably fresher.
The most exciting thing about Sega Rally Online Arcade for me though, is the inclusion of the original Desert course, rendered in stunning HD. It feels different to the original track and some subtle changes have been made to the layout it seems, but for me, the inclusion of my favourite course from my favourite game made it worth the XBL points. Now if we could just get Sega to add the other two tracks from the first game I'll be happy!
It's bright, colourful and slightly over-the-top in a way only Sega games can be.
Two-player mode on a single console is still botched, with an infuriating vertical split of the screen. Why the developers chose to do this is beyond me, it makes it all but unplayable and puts an end to what could have been a great fun addition to the game. There are the usual Xbox Live play and leader boards too, which go someway to making up for the poor split-screen play.
So for 800 points, Sega Rally Online Arcade isn't a bad little game, and for fans of the franchise like me, it's a nice homage to the original game and most importantly, its bloody good fun, it's bright, colourful and slightly over-the-top in a way only Sega games can be. Just don't expect too much from it and you won't be disappointed.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: