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|Setting the Scene:
The fact that the recently released Gran Turismo 2 is receiving all of the attention and adoration at the moment must worry the hell out of other racing game developers. Especially those who have painstakingly been working away like beavers for the past few years and are about to unveil their wares.
Produced by the mighty Electronic Arts, and developed by Hotgen Studio Ltd., Rally Championship attempts to out-feature the competition. With advanced light-mapping, environment mapping, MIP mapping, alpha blending and texture animations combined to build a world where you can drive almost anywhere as you explore real-life stages from the Official British Rally Championship.
Driver's... Start those engines!
Rally Championship attempts to re-create the thrills of motor racing against the clock in time trial and championship mode, versus CPU drivers in arcade mode, and go head to head against a mate in two player mode.
Sound and Vision:
The quality of the intro almost fooled me into thinking this could be the rally game to finally replace Colin McRae at the top of the tree. Even the demo mode showed signs of realism that would put V-Rally to shame. Sadly the final product bares more comparisons to Rally Cross as the style of in-game graphics follows the tradition of pure arcade racers, rather than prove to be a realistic driving simulation.
At times Rally Championship offers some nice roadside effects that look quite impressive, however these attractive sights are often intermingled with a few tasteless moments. For example the boredom of gazing at a continuous line of dull 2D trees set against a grotesque backdrop of 'green colored' border is suddenly broken by the unexpected appearance of a small cluster of pretty dwelling. On other occasions realistic mud and grit are tossed out from the rear of a vehicle into the general direction of a crowd of ugly cardboard cut-out spectators.
On the plus side I was amazed how far ahead down the track could be seen without any use of fogging effects. Neither do I recall noticing any pop-up. What is evident though are the many breaks in the 'green colored' scenery that allow you to see right through into a world of nothingness.
Each rally cars has been faithfully modeled on the real vehicles and are accurate to the point where even the motifs may be read. Any collision usually results in a few sparks as a bumper bar drops off, while brake lights flicker off /on and dirt is splattered across the bodywork. There are five views to race from which are first person, two variations of in-car, behind car and high above and behind.
The car engine effects are quite realistic, even to the point of dropping a few revs when leaving the proper racing surface. During the race every slushy slide and grinding collision appears to have been well captured and duly adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.
To help you negotiate each upcoming corner a color-coded arrow is displayed on screen. To further add to the realism a co-driver constantly shouts out helpful information on how severe each upcoming ditch, hump or bend is. The assistance of a co-driver becomes even more important as daylight fades and players embark on nighttime stages.
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