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This classic 90's arcade rally racing game was made famous for its floaty handling that demanded both a deft touch and detailed course knowledge from gamers. It has here been updated for modern consoles while keeping to its original style and feel of play.
Racing games, although sometimes seen as a sporting sub category, are a well established video game genre in their own right. They can feature a variety of driving styles ranging from the fantastical arcade racing focusing on thrills and spills, to the super realistic simulations that recreate every aspect of real life driving.
Sega Rally excels at floaty driving over soft or moveable surfaces. Whereas other games labour to create a tangible connection between car and road surface, it is in the blurring of this relationship that Sega Rally comes into its own. This was true in the original arcade game and is also true of the 360 (PSP and PS3) release.
The game revolves around a series of environment-led tracks (sand, snow, gravel, dirt etc) and as such provides a very location specific experience. Time has been spent on the initial layout of each course and in the ability for cars to impact the driving surface. As was seen first in Motorstorm PS3 the tracks develop mud, grooves and divets as the various cars charge their way around each lap.
The success of Sega Rally on 360 is that it continues the genuine arcade racer feel of the original, whilst edging the experience towards the more casual player. There is no better feeling that a perfect lap where you have perfectly edged the car around each corner. The ability to shave tenth's of seconds of your best time is one of the big draws to keep players coming back for more, as are the unlocked vehicles and tracks - yes including the iconic Sega Rally Lancia.
Although races only last ten minutes or so, players really need to invest a good few hours in a single sitting to get the hang of the controls and improve their standing. Although this is essentially an arcade (rather than realistic simulation) racing game, it still requires a lot of practice to really master.
Sega Rally has a trump card for super young gamers. The assisted arcade physics mean that when you hit the edge of the track you are bumped back on course. It's much like the buffers they insert for young bowlers - they can enjoy the game without the frustration of always throwing a gutter ball - or in our case, without always driving off the track.
This is ideal for those young gamers still getting to grips with the left/right stick controls. My three year old son can happily play Sega Rally for a good half an our, but is quickly frustrated by other driving game's accurate steering requirements.
Intermediate and expert games will find plenty to enjoy here. Although the learning curve is initially a little steep. How to corner the cars soon clicks into place and results in a very playable (and challenging) arcade racing experience.
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: