The original SEGA Rally reboot for the current generation of consoles was one of 2007′s most disappointing releases. Despite boasting fantastic arcade racing gameplay, an interesting terrain deformation mechanic and a look which imbued both modern and classic SEGA themes, it barely achieved half a million sales in North America and didn’t fair much better in Europe.
It could have been due to the game’s release being only weeks, or in some cases days, after the emergence of Halo 3, or perhaps modern gamers had grown tired of glossy racing games in an era were many a developer placed more of an emphasise on realism than fun.
Despite its original creator, SEGA Racing Studio, shutting its doors shortly after the release of its debut, SEGA Rally is back against all the odds, in a svelte downloadable form. A merging of both the arcade and home versions, SEGA Rally Online Arcade straddles the line between being both warmly familiar yet new at the same time.
Best described as a throwback, the five tracks on offer share similar themes and layouts to the most recent console release with visits to desert, jungle and snow plastered locales. Each track is boasting the fanciful details you’d expect from this series, with jets occasionally thundering overhead or local wildlife doing their thing trackside. There are some really nice touches here which help to create an appealing and enjoyable atmosphere.
The surface deformation mechanic which was so influential in the last iteration of this series returns, but this time in a more muted flavour. The track does change from lap to lap, however with races never going on for longer than three laps, these effects feel mostly cosmetic.
The cars on offer are more of a surprise with eleven finely tuned rally vehicles to choose from; ranging from the standard looking Mitsubishi Lancer to the more fanciful off-road 4×4 Bowler. Again these vehicles will be familiar to those who played the previous game, but each feels nuanced enough to find your favourite. Two really nifty inclusions are the Lancia Delta and Toyota Corolla which return from the very first SEGA Rally, along with a recreation of the original Desert track which has the exact same layout from the 1995 game updated to modern HD standards.
If none of this nostalgia floats your boat that’s absolutely fine, this release is more of a throwback to its target audience than a notable competitor to any other modern rally racers. That factor probably explains why there’s only the most basic of Quick Race and Time Trial modes to satisfy your racing desires. There’s also the option to take part in the Championship mode, which ties all of the default tracks together in several checkpointed races, ending with a head-to-head against the leader of the series, but still the options feel a bit light, even for an 800 MSP priced offering.
Thankfully the multiplayer options are a little bit beefier with the option to race online in events accommodating six players and time-trial leaderboards to post your best time and ghost on each of the game’s tracks. Seeing as Online is in the title of this release, you’d expect this kind of functionality and it all works very well.
The biggest question is who exactly SEGA Rally Online Arcade is for. If you were one of the few who bought and enjoyed the 2007 reboot, there might be too much shared content for you to feel like this downloadable effort is worth your investment. That said the track layouts do feel relatively new, aside from the borrowed corners here and there, and this purchase would prove to SEGA not to abandon this classic series.
Alternatively if you’re new to this IP and want to know what this most arcade of arcade racers is all about we strongly urge you to give it a go. All of this content has been polished and refined to create an enjoyable racing experience which is more about the thrill than technical skill.
Tags: SEGA Rally
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