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SEGA Rally Online Arcade (Xbox 360) artwork

SEGA Rally Online Arcade (Xbox 360) review

"Sega Rally makes a comeback, but it may not be what you're expecting"

Sega Rally has been one of my favorite Sega franchises since I played the port of the Arcade game on the Saturn. I played it all the time and eventually when the Dreamcast came out and I found that there was a Sega Rally 2 for it, I jumped on the chance to get to play it. Then after that Sega gave up on making hardware and it seemed like their output for games decreased as well. For several years I never saw anything about Sega Rally or heard of it again until last year when Sega Rally: Online Arcade was released for the 360 and PS3. Later I came to find out there were two other Sega Rally games released before it, Sega Rally 2006 was out on the PS2 and was a Japanese release only, and Sega Rally Revo which was developed alongside this title, which is actually a port of Sega Rally 3 that was released in arcades it turned out.

I was excited but forgot about the game for a little while. Then when I was reminded of it I downloaded the title and was excited again. I was finally going to play a new Sega Rally game. It turned out pretty ok, but I am disappointed in this release in some ways.

Getting into modes there's Single Player, X-Box Live, Local Multiplayer, Leaderboards and of course Options. You have a fair amount of options you can adjust including control which is limited but I'll get to that in a moment. When you go to Single Player these modes open up some more. You have Championship which is more like the classic Championship mode from the first Sega Rally in where you race on three courses starting in last place and if you make it to first, you can race on a bonus stage, only coming in first on the bonus stage will enable you to really win the Championship.

There's quick race, where you just pick a car and a course and race against the AI. Time Attack in which you race against a ghost of the game's staff and try to beat their time, or you can go up against anybody who's made it onto the leaderboards and uploaded their ghost which is actually pretty interesting. Then finally there is Classic, which is like a small extra mode where you can race either the '94 Toyota Celica or the '92 Lancia Delta HF Integrale from the original game, on a visually spruced up version of the Desert course from the same game. That was a nice of them to do, but I sort of wished that they included the Lancia Strotos and maybe a couple of other tracks from Sega Rally 2.

When I booted this game up and went into Quick Race the first thing I was struck by was how strange the game handled. The camera seemed to be in a fixed position stuck behind the car, though you can switch into a first person and cockpit kind of view it helps some, but when you're behind the car it takes some getting used to. The driving in the game feels kind of stiff compared to the original Sega Rally and Sega Rally 2, and that can throw you off a little if you're used to playing those games like it did me. Eventually if you stick with it though you can get used to it, it's not so bad but it will require some adjustment time to get the handling down.

Otherwise the control is good, you've got handbrake, standard braking, you can switch between manual and automatic transmission. My only gripe with the control is you can't come up with your own custom control scheme. I just don't understand why so many developers have such a hard time implementing this feature, a lot more games used to do this. I'm gonna start griping a little more now but this has to do with car selection.

This game has a total of 13 cars, but only 11 of them can be used in all modes of the game. The two that excluded are the Celica and Delta from Classic mode though you can use them in Time Attack as well, but I find it pretty silly that both of these cars are in the game and you can use them in one other mode outside of the intended one but not in Championship or even online. These are classic and I'm sure other people would love to use them in the other modes. Getting deeper into the subject of the cars unfortunately brings up some more problems.

For the most part it seems like all the cars are the same with virtually no differences at all. Between the six default cars you start with the all have the same top speed of about 128 MPH, they seem to handle and brake the same, and the shift time seems to be the same as well. The unlockable cars have a little more variance between them in terms of performance but not too much. The Celica and Delta are different from the other cars as well but clock in at the same top speed of about 127 MPH but have 5 gears instead of 6 like the other cars. If there are differences between all these cars, they must be so slight and subtle that they're unnoticeable and I don't really think that's the case.

That's pretty disappointing that there's no real difference between a lot of these cars when even the first Sega Rally's three cars handled differently, had different acceleration rates and top speeds. Another thing that this game is lacking with the cars is the fact that you cannot make any adjustments to them at all. You can't adjust suspension, blow off valves, tires, Gear Ratio, Steering, Brake, nothing. Sega Rally 2 had all this, more cars, and more courses, shouldn't they at least try to match what Sega Rally 2 did? Even the original Sega Rally on the Saturn has some of these features. I can understand that some gamers may not enjoy tweaking car features and all that but you don't have to do that to play the game, ultimately it's optional and adds more depth to the game.

For courses this game has five; Tropical, Canyon, Alpine, Lakeside and Desert '95. Tropical, Canyon, and Alpine are the ones you can access by default in Quick Race, Championship and Time Attack, they follow the basic pattern of Easy, Medium and Hard pretty much like the original game laid it's courses out. Lakeside makes a return from the original game and it's the hardest course by far, you have to place first in Championship on the Alpine stage and in order to actually unlock Lakeside you have to place first there as well. Desert '95 is accessed originally in Classic mode, but if you beat the other car you can unlock it for use in Time Attack and Online, again for some reason, it's not accessible in other modes such as Quick Race, why? I couldn't tell you.

The course design is pretty good in this game at least, my favorite one is the Canyon Stage there are lot advanced techniques you'll have to try in order to run though it smoothly like Power Sliding, which is always fun. Tropical is pretty good for the easy stage and Alpine is also good and his some crazy hairpin turns along with some snow. Desert '95 is fun to romp around in but again I wish it were accessible in quick race at least, Lakeside has pretty good design but a few flaws. There are certain parts in the stage where it gets hard to tell where your boundaries are because there is a stretch of fencing that looks like it's made out of chicken wire or something and it's practically invisible at the speeds you're going. The first time you play this track you're probably going to lose and you'll have to play Championship all over again just to take another crack at it, that part with the fencing is probably the closest you'll come to having something resembling a beginners trap in a racing game, you'll only know how to avoid it once you figure out it's there by hitting it and slowing you down.
Online Play is a strange case. It looks like a lot of people don't play this game online anymore and really I've yet to finish a race online with players, I assume its fun but they keep dropping out or I keep getting dropped out or something. For all intents and purposes it does look like the game's online community is pretty well dead. If you go to search for a Quick Race you'll only ever find one game up if that. I would recommend maybe getting some friends to get the game with you instead of relying on others for online play.

This game probably could've done well to have a couple of extra courses but that's ok I suppose. Everything is pretty solid from a gameplay perspective but it's obviously a step back from Sega Rally 2 a game that came out on the Dreamcast in 1999, in several ways. Beyond that, it's still fun to play and you'll definitely get a rush going through these courses.

Graphically this game is pretty impressive. The mud, dirt and snow effects are all really good and the cars look excellent too. The courses look really nice and are also very colorful. There are never any frame rate issues due to graphics or anything and the game remains solid the entire time. If I did have a complaint it would be that I wish there were more liveries or something you could unlock for the cars, again this was something in Sega Rally 2. Otherwise this game's graphics are just very well done.

Sound is probably the game's biggest weakness if you're going to compare it to other Sega Rally games and maybe even other Sega games in general. The sound effects are fine, and usually that's never a problem in any game unless the programmers and engineers are just really incompetent, the issue here is the soundtrack. The music for this game isn't bad necessarily but it's pretty unremarkable and underwhelming, especially for a Sega game. Even if a Sega game is bad, the soundtrack is usually good. There are echos of the style of music that Sega Rally is known for but it's just incomparable to the original game's soundtrack and Sega Rally 2.
I assume that the idea of this game was to recapture the spirit of the original Sega Rally or something, in this case it fails. While playing this game you won't be reminded very much of Sega Rally in musical terms, and you'd probably be better off downloading the older games complete soundtracks and putting them onto your HDD or a Zune if you have one.

You've got Time Attacks to do, Championship can always be run again, there's local multiplayer, if you're lucky you can race online. This already makes the game a bit above average in this department, but the lack of depth to the gameplay definitely stunts this along with the dead online community.

Again, I think the idea with this game was to probably just release a really simple and straightforward racing title that will remind people of the original Sega Rally Championship, but it fails to include features that were in both the original and Sega Rally 2. It's a bit lacking in a few areas but at its core it's still a fun game and it does still feel like you're playing a Sega Rally game. It may not be the Sega Rally game you've always wanted though because it doesn't feel like it matches Sega Rally 2, which I would think is a fair expectation considering that game's age. I would recommend this if you're a big Sega Rally fan, but otherwise this may not impress you as much or be your cup of tea because of the lack of depth in the gameplay and the lack of variety in terms of courses and modes along with the gimped online community.


zork86's avatar
Community review by zork86 (May 14, 2017)

Sometimes, Zork reviews something other than Resident Evil games. And when he does, he gets the hose again.

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