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Digital Illusions
Microsoft
Racing
1-4
03.05.02

RalliSport Challenge


Who could have thought before the Xbox was launched, that a company such as Microsoft -who is best known in the gaming world for publishing PC games such as Age of Empires- could have ever sewn together the string of fresh new hits it has done in such a short time? Be it from their incredibly deep pocket book, their game-savvy crew, or just dumb luck, Microsoft has really proven itself in North America by showing gamers that it really is here to provide incredible gaming experiences (and maybe make a buck or two in the process). Rallisport Challenge is the newest game out of the Microsoft woodwork, and without going any further, I can already say honestly that this is the best one since good ol' Halo.

Rallisport Challenge, as it's namesake describes, is a rally racing game. Rally racers differ a great deal from your average run of the mill racers, in that they combine realistic car physics with power sliding mechanics, making each race an intense battle not only against your opponents, but against the track. Will your tires hold their grip for that one last second as you slide the long, hard right? Can you keep your car balanced as it flys 90mph through the mud, the ice, the dirt, weaving between each track's unforgiving turns? These are the kind of things that will be flashing through your mind as you take on each coarse. Suffice to say, Rallisport packs intensity. Intensity out the ass!

Gameplay

These are the things that a rally racer really depends on, and must have if it even dares going up against the Colin McRae's and the Sega Rally's. Excellent physics, tight control, the speed, the intensity. Luckily, Rallisport deals spades in every category, and never leaves you feeling like anything was compromised. Absolutely the only thing I can think of that detracts from the game play is that the cars seem to be filled with hot air. For example, if you're flying down the track at top speed, you see a rock coming at you, (a tiny, soccer ball sized rock, half dug into the ground, mind you) you don't give it a second thought, right? Well, perplexed you'll be when you see your car careen off into the air, quadruple back flipping and landing half way across the course. Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a bit, but the problem is still there, although minor.

Graphics

On the graphical side of things, Rallisport Challenge is without peer. Rallisport looks undeniably better than any racing game that has come before it, yes, even the mighty Gran Turismo 3 bows down to Rallisport. Everything in the game is absolutely beautiful, the textures first and foremost are just incredible. I've never seen textures even nearly as good as the ones found in Rallisport. Each and every terrain texture is amazingly detailed, bump mapped to the point you can almost feel it, and features some incredible lighting effects. Each car model is an unbelievable, high poly, real-time shimmering, shadow casting, (and we're talking realistic, dynamic shadows, not girly man shadows of yester-year) masterpiece. There are tons of incredible little effects going on all the while as well, such as the seemingly effortless real-time skid marks that actually deform and re-texture the terrain realistically. And yes, it all runs at a blazing 60 fps.

Sound

De-railing from such a high note, the sound doesn't hold up nearly as well as the rest of the game. Featuring a list of mostly bland techno and other weak music, the original sound track isn't about to get you pumped up for a race. Saving itself though, the game offers the ability to rip your own custom sound track to your Xbox and use your own tunes, which makes up for any inability to please the sound track had. The sound effects on the other hand are very well done. The engines and other various car-associated sound effects are spot on.

Bottom Line:

All in all, Rallisport Challenge offers up some incredibly intense racing. Any racing fan, whether you like shooting turtle shells in Mario Kart, or tuning that last HP out of your MG Midget in Gran Turismo 3, you must play Rallisport Challenge.

-Andy Wilson




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