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Submitted by Derek dela Fuente on May 5 2004 - 00:00

Can Rallisport Challenge 2 continue the success of its predecessor...

There is possibly a large number of Xbox gamers who may not remember the original game released around 2 years ago. With the quality of racing and rally games being so high even the short period between the original and the follow up appears to be slightly fuddled in the memory of exactly why it was so good!! What was apparent was that Rallisport got some rave reviews first time around for its stylish looks, great in game AI, up to 4 player split screen mode and a real adrenaline charged offering.

With such a lot to live up to we were certainly eager to see, play and experience Rallisport 2.

Just a basic summary of whatâ??s new and improved certainly makes this an interesting proposition. Coming with a new graphics engine, along with Xbox Live! online play, a number of new modes, tracks, cars and sets ups, it personifies what looks like all the very best in its sport.

Where to start is the only real problem we encountered. The games modes include Time Attack, where you try to beat your time and race against a friendâ??s ghost or take on the Number 1 player currently on Xbox Live!. Single Race - compete against up to three computer-controlled opponents. There is the extensive Career Mode - for those that like to have their skill level assessed over a longer period of time. This will take you through a series of stages and events where you earn points based on how well you are placed. More points equate to new events as well as unlocking better cars. There is Multiplayer mode, as well as aforementioned Xbox live play. To top all of this there are numerous different types of races, which include Ice Racing (some dangerous circular tracks in torturous conditions), Hill Climb, which is about sheer brute force and power, with some gut churning inclines over mountainous conditions and Crossover - switching lanes and driving like a lunatic! Sadly Rallisport Challenge 2 doesnâ??t introduce any new types of races then those featured in its predecessor, however the sheer amount on offer should be enough to please any racing fan out there.

As you would expect after all the â??fiddleyâ?? initial setting up, the most important feature is setting the game level, which could be Amateur, Pro, or Champion which are very pertinent to gameplay and not merely cosmetically included. Your selection will have a real effect on gameplay and so choosing the toughest option means the AI of the opponents is fixed to tough whilst the easier mode allows you to restart on any track.

Although RalliSport Challenge 2 is the premiere motor sports title for the XSN network - much of the gameplay is focused on the online experience where players will compete via Live but will also be able to set up a comprehensive Rally League through XSNsports.com. That is not to say either that the Single player option is any lesser an experience, as we found out. The whole gameâ??s mechanics, itâ??s ambiance and progressive nature can easily be taken onboard by simply getting in one of the cars and racing and expericening it all on your own!!

Some of the initial requirements before you actually start racing could be better suited towards petrol heads. The suspension and gears can all be tampered with but unless you have played the game for a good few hours and are really familiar with what each individual component do, it is best to leave well alone. Of course the conditions and the tuning up of the cars work in a kind of synergy but it is only with experience will you learn the full extent of this.

An impressive line-up of vehicles, over 40 in all, and once again a little forethought into both the conditions and the performance, along with setting up the car, needs to be considered. To the average punter it is always the biggest and most powerful that will top their list â?“ most of which are initially locked! The Volvo Amazon, or the Beetle look cools cars and picking the start car is more down to luck than judgment. It is the playerâ??s skill factor that will win the day. No matter what car you choose it is precise driving that really counts and it is only the top player (not that many) who will really be able to use the best cars to the optimum!

There is a number of factors that place this game in the premier league of Rally Racers. Like its predecessor, Rallisport Challenge 2 is from the Sega Rally driving school, and thus places emphasis on speed, excitement and handbrake turns around the corners; some racing enthusiasts may scoff at the lack of realism, but for a quick octane-fuelled blast this simply canâ??t be beaten.

Graphically the game was a cut above nearly all other racing games and the first view you get, for a few seconds, you could well believe this was real video from a race â?“ only momentarily!!!

The sizing on screen of the cars, spectators and environment was larger and more detailed than gamers could be accustomed to and the variety and diversity of the tracks and locations really make this what it is - a very polished and well thought out sequel. The camera modes, which were adjustable, were inventive and gave you the perfect fix on the track! With screen update slick and trackside moving at a fair rate of knots, your eye and full co-coordination worked well and you were never frustrated pulling you game control all over the place. When you went off the road, you knew instinctively before the event, that you were going too fast or made a glaring mistake!

The visuals throughout Rallisport Challenge 2 are of an exceptional standard, featuring the fantastic car models that we expect from an Xbox racer and some truly astounding lighting effects, which create a truly natural look to the whole proceedings.

The climatic weather conditions not only have a real effect to the way you drive but also add to the very ambient feel of the game.

Top of the list, aside from the presentation, were the navigational aids. Many Rally games give the audio annoucement, or even visual displays, of impeding corners, far too late in the day and normally you are driving well into a turn before you can really anticipate and execute the appropriate action. Rallisport 2 is spot on in presenting critical information to the driver and although a lot depends on how fast you are driving, in general terms, the timing and collation between the CPU and the driverâ??s actions is excellent.

As always the online and multiplayer challenge will depend on the proficiency of the drivers but the pure mechanics and set up of the game cannot be faulted!

The controls were as straight forward as you would wish and although there is a number of controls to take in you do not have to worry about learning them for intuitively you will find everything is almost second nature!

The gameâ??s AI will challenge the best of players, although the progression through the career mode is not that hard to begin with but is cranked up after you feel you have got to grips with things.

The pace of the game is more to do with learning when to break, when you can go full blast, when to take a few risks, when to anticipate and when you can slide into a turn! The 6 to 8 equations of winning are the essence of the sport and getting it more right than wrong isnâ??t hard but getting it right all the time requires not only patience but also good skill levels which Rallisport 2 caters fully!

Are there any down sides or real negatives? A few and some will say we are nit picking! If you have played Rallisport then you will need to get well into the game to appreciate all the fine-tuning that has gone into the sequel but it does feel very much like the original product!

The on course objects in some instances donâ??t appear to have the real physics reactions? Banners on the side of the roads will stop your car or deflect it in another direction whereas in real life it would be more like a powderpuff! Some of the suspension looks slightly flaky, whereas road humps will catapult you skywards but similar roadside ridges will not have a similar effect! On a number of occasions we also managed to slide the car backwards up a steep incline by the side of the road, something that simply defied every rule of physics and looked completely stupid. That aside a special mention for the great and differing responses you get from the various road surfaces be it tarmac, gravel, dirt or ice.

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  • Graphics: 94%
     
  • Sound: 82%
     
  • Gameplay: 88%
     
  • Originality: 78%
     
  • Longevity: 86%
     
Overall Score: 8/10
Although Rallisport 2 meets all expectations and is more forgiving than a certain Codemasters title and everything is perfect there is still something missing and it is hard to put a finger on that ingredient! Perhaps it’s the fact that aside from some excellent Xbox Live! support, Rallisport Challenge 2 doesn’t try too hard to establish any new ideas to the franchise.

Either way racing fans that aren’t too cut up about realism will have a blast spinning around the tracks; perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay is to name it the spiritual successor to the great Sega Rally – not a bad tagline at all.

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