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NEED FOR SPEED RALLY
S.SHOT
Developer Infogrames Options
Distributer E.A 1- 2Plyr
Game Type Racing Mem. Card
Review Date November'97 Mad Katz/ NeGcon
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SCENE
GENRE
GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
VALUE
OPINION
 
 
REVIEW INDEX
Setting the Scene
After an abundance of racing games on the PlayStation over the last two years there is still one category that has yet to be cracked. Development teams have been working tirelessly over the past year to produce a quality rally game for the Sony unit and we are only now beginning to see the results of these efforts. Rally Cross was the first to raise it's head and was not a bad effort, although the way that the cars bounced around the tracks was more reminiscent of 4X4 racing. Other titles mentioned this year are Grand Champions Rally, Int. Rally Championship, Project Rally, RAC Rally Championship, Rally Q, Viper Project Rally and the almost complete Total Driving from Eutechnyx.

Next out of the traps comes NFS-Rally from French developers Infogrames which is based around the World Rally Championships.

Genre
NFS-Rally is the game that will surely put Sega Rally in it's rightful place, because the PlayStation finally has a rally racing game that is worthy of the best next generation console on the market.
There are 60 tracks set over 8 world venues, 4 modes of play including a two player spilt-screen mode.

Graphics
For once I am lost for words. To say the graphics are brilliant would be putting the game down. Gorgeous and excellent would best be replaced with magnificent and superlative. Pulchritudinous, now there's a good word. Apparently NFS-Rally is the first game to write raw code straight onto the chip set. If that is so then here lies the future of graphics. Fast, smooth and definitely a thing of pulchritude.
During a race there are a few nice touches worthy of mention such as the way that the sunlight reflects onto your windscreen or the rise of dust from the cars in front of you. Unfortunately, because you require maximum concentration to guide your way around these tricky courses, much of the graphical splendor passes by without notice. But fear not as NFS-Rally includes a replay mode of the highest quality. Rather than charging straight into your next race, sit back, put your feet up, relax and enjoy a replay of your triumphs and disasters. This can be viewed from an alternative view or a TV camera perspective that captures the racing from many amazing angles. Now you can enjoy that sunset on the horizon, the snow cover pine trees, the sheep grazing in the fields, the spectators sheltering in the trees, driving through tropical rainstorms, dense fog, blinding sunshine.....

I could go on for hours about the quality graphics but not wishing to spoil the initial impact that awaits you I will just quickly mention the lighting. NFS-Rally is worth buying alone for the experience of driving in the Alps, at night, in total darkness, during a blizzard with only the beam from your headlights to lead you through. It couldn't be more realistic if you were actually there.

Sounds and Effects
The sound effects in NFS-Rally are superb. Each venue has identifiable sounds associated with the country it is portraying. Lining up on the starting grid in Spain you can hear the racket of crickets clicking away. Indonesia has that collective chirping noise that can only be associated with a tropical jungle, while the silence of Safari is broken by a blast from an elephant or the hoot of an owl. Once the race is underway most noises are drowned by the roar of the realistic racing engines and the small clusters of spectators cheering their approval as you pass them by.

The music on the other hand is pretty crap and is NFS-Rally's only failing. Wailing guitars thrashing out their rock tunes somehow does not compliment the game and was quickly switched off at the options.

Playability
NFS-Rally plays unlike any other racer you have loaded into your 32-bit console. Apart from the expected reactionary skills, sharp eyesight and a certain amount of luck that is required to succeed in other racing titles, NFS-Rally requires patience, and plenty of it. Throwing it in gear and charging straight into championship mode will only end up in frustration and possibly tears.
Most racing games include those two dirty words that are frowned upon by egoistic wheel burners - Time Trial.
"What? Practice? - that's for whimps!" I hear you scorn.
Listen! NFS-Rally is different and your chance of success without learning the tracks and how to handle the cars is about as realistic as you jumping in a high powered Mitsubishi and completing the first mile of the Lombard RAC Rally unblemished - virtually nil.
Practice makes perfect and Time Trial offers all 18 arcade courses, in varying conditions, to test out your selection from the 11 rally cars that are modelled on specifications and data from all the real teams. There's even a ghost car of your best lap time to compete against.
Every car must be taken for a test drive over several terrains as the variance in handling is unreal. You cannot just sit down and play NFS-Rally, you must learn how to drive it. Try out a lightweight Peugeot 106 Maxi with it's front wheel drive, 1·6 ltr atmospheric engine and max 200 bhp at 9,000 revs. Next take the Subaru Impreza WRC, 4 wheel drive around the same course as the 2 ltr turbo charged engine hits 300 bhp at 5,000 revs per minute. The difference is awesome, but you can unbelievably clock up the same lap times if driven correctly.
Other racers give the player a choice of vehicles that have either excellent handling, rapid acceleration or maximum high speeds. NFS-Rally presents a choice of car that looks, performs, handles and most importantly feels like no other on offer. I tell you, it's so real. Other cars available are a selection of front wheel and four wheel drives such as the Citroen Saxo Kitcar, Skoda Felicia, Nissan Almera, Seat Ibiza EV2, Renault Maxi Megane UK & FR, Peugeot 306 Maxi and of course the Ford Escort WRC.

Practice perfected and it's on with the show. Arcade mode is not unnecessarily a race to the line but a test of your driving skills to reach checkpoints within the given time limit. Your three opponents seem to have been coded with an AI to slow down your progress by taking you out as often as possible - a sort of Destruction Derby that you cannot afford to become involved in. Try making the first corner before the pack and you will be shunted and slammed into oblivion, but in fairness a CPU car will take out another if obstructed. With practice you can carefully ease a rival off the track but beware as they will surely return to shunt you from behind when least expecting. Let them go at first, it's not worth it, as a collision cost you vital time and result in your car performing more spectacular acrobatics than a Chinese gymnastics team.
It's also great to see that opponents can commit the same driving errors as yourself. You will often slide around a particularly difficult corner only to see another car tumbling uncontrollably down the track due to an unforced error. How gratifying.

Beginning with three credits you must complete the first four stages in Easy mode over differing terrain. This will open up a further six new tracks in Medium mode before entering the eight final challenging stages.
Loading up your first race opens up a secondary option screen where you select your car, number of race laps from two to six and if you wish to implement the catch-up, then car boost must be selected now. Once you leave this screen the settings cannot be changed.
Your first race will be on the asphalt surface of sunny Corsica but before the race begins you can customize your car to suit the terrain. There are three settings for suspension and gear ratio while the handling may be scaled from under to oversteer. Extra credits can be gained by winning an individual race while failure to complete the course will reduce your chances by one.
Once the race is in progress you must use the knowledge gained from Time Trial to judge your braking, steering and acceleration. If the thought of leaving the track in Formula 1 gave you sleepless nights then prepare for nightmares with NFS-Rally because straying from the racing surface is unforgiving. Braking before corners is essential until you learn the art of sliding around them and once this art is perfected you will reduce your lap times by several seconds. Handbrake turns will whip you around those hair-pin bends while grass verges may be cut over if you ease off the gas. To help you judge the coming bends your copilot will inform you of the sharpness with calls of "easy right", "medium left" or "hard left". If you miss his call then an on-screen indicator will keep you right.

As you progress through Arcade mode you will sample the delights of not only eight varying settings such as the streets circuits of Spain and Corsica, the open countrysides of England and New Zealand, the tropical conditions of Safari and Indonesia and the snowbound Alps and Sweden, but each race can take place at morning, noon or night. Weather conditions range from cloudy, sunny, raining, fog bound, sleet and snow. Each a challenge in it's own right. If you complete Arcade mode on expert setting there are a further 18 tracks to play which are extremely narrow.

If you fancy a break from the pressure of matching those check point times then why not attempt a full blown Championship. Points are awarded for your finishing position over 24 stages, three completely different courses for each venue. A night-time race through the forests of snowbound Sweden is the ultimate test for any hardened racer. How about a romp through the Safari swamp as you aquaplane uncontrollably during torrential rain storms.

Value for Money
So what do we have so far? 3 difficulty settings which are Rookie, Pro and Ace. 18 Time Trial courses to perfect your driving skills with, or without, a ghost car. The same 18 courses in the time-testing Arcade mode. If you finish the mode Arcade difficult in level Expert, you can play the same circuits but on a more realistic scale. It means also that they are narrower. 24 completely different tracks and weather conditions in the challenging Championship mode. That's 60 stages in all. Is that enough?
You want more? You've got it.
NFS-Rally includes the best two player split-screen available on PSX. No slow down, horizontal and vertical viewing options, two player head-to-head racing in Time Trial mode.
You want more? You've got it.
How about a two player split-screen race against the CPU cars. Join forces for an Arcade challenge where either driver must reach each checkpoint over the 18 Arcade courses. That gives you two chances to complete the game. One car can take the CPU vehicles out of the race while the other strolls to victory. You could also race individually scuppering each others chances for winning the race.
Value for money? You bet. Go out and buy this game now.

Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: Brilliant At last you can say to your mates, "Sega Rally? Ha, I've got NFS-Rally. Come around to my place for a change". Although the learning curve may be too steep for some, I found NFS-Rally a real challenge. The graphics must be seen to be believed.
If Formula 1 '97 lives up to expectations, then combined with Rage Racer and NFS-Rally we will have the definitive racing trilogy for the PlayStation that no other console will come near to for many, many years.
SOUND: Good
PLAYABILITY: Brilliant
VALUE: Brilliant
OVERALL 95%
JIM
GRAPHICS: Brilliant Sega rally is dead - long live the new king of Rally Racers! This game features so many tracks, so many cars and so many options, all of which will ensure that it has a massive lifespan. The control of the cars is very unnatural at first, but soon becomes second-nature. This is one of the very best PSX games ever to have been released, so the advise is quite simple - BUY IT!
SOUND: Good
PLAYABILITY: Brilliant
VALUE: Brilliant
OVERALL 96%

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