The Average Gamer

10 Things You Should Know About Sega Rally (Revo)

SEGA LogoThere’s a new Sega Rally (a.k.a. Sega Rally Revo) coming out this September 28th, 2007. It’s good. We’ve played it.

The Sega customer relations people gave us lots of info – some of it propaganda and some of it plain truth. We’ve filtered out most of the propaganda for you. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. It feels like the original arcade game:
    The designers have preserved its fast, close-racing experience – all through the race you’re convinced that if you cut the next corner a liiiiittle bit closer you’ll be in the lead. They’ve also kept the HUD style close to the original arcade design, with the addition of a map. In terms of graphics, the artists seem to have signed up to the Blue Skies Campaign. Yay for happy games! This has not gone unnoticed by the organisers at UK Resistance.
  2. It’s a casual rally:
    Colin McRae’s DiRT prides itself on being an accurate recreation of rally driving, right down to letting you adjust your car’s limited slip diffs. Sega Rally… doesn’t. They’ve kept the arcade version’s track notes that warn you of approaching hazards but there is nothing on the level of real-life pacenotes. This is a pure high-adrenaline racing game designed to let you thrash your friends in a quick 5-minute challenge after a night out. Or be thrashed, but that would never happen to you, right?
  3. The ‘surface deformation’ is a pretty good feature:
    Sega Rally - A Tropical Example of Surface DeformationSega were very proud of the fact that when you skid through the muddy parts of the track, your wheels will churn up the track surface. These tyre troughs will persist through the whole race, potentially destroying the traditional racing line. You can really feel the difference in the track on laps two and three, through the magic of force feedback. (Or not, if you’re stuck with a sixaxis controller). This brings the game much closer to the spirit of rally racing, forcing you to negotiate unexpected lumps and bumps. MotorStorm tried to do the same thing but, as we have noticed ourselves, track marks would disappear and reappear for no obvious reason. Gouges stay where they’re supposed to in this version of Sega Rally.
  4. The race cameras are all useful:
    There are four in-race camera views: Two rear views, one bumper cam and one on the bonnet. Certain touring-car games which shall remained unnamed seem to think that filling half the screen with a dashboard is a good idea. No, it’s a big waste of time when your opponent has a full-screen view. Say “No!” to pointless camera angles.
  5. All the locations play differently:
    We raced in three different locations (Tropical, Canyon and Alpine) with (probably) Safari and two others making up the six that will be available. Each location has its own particular feel to the track surface and there are several tracks in each location. Those in the alpine region were snowy and had noticably less grip, the dry canyon track was good for newbies, the tropical one is wet and muddy – all is pretty much as you would expect.
  6. Sega Rally Sparco/Logitech Racing Pods

  7. None of the cars will be stupidly overpowered:
    I hear that when you play Virtua Tennis 3 online, everyone is using Duke or King because those two unlockable characters are so much more powerful than the rest. We were assured that this will not happen in Sega Rally as the cars are carefully balanced. This doesn’t mean that all the cars will be the same, although to be honest, we didn’t really notice any major handling differences between the cars during our short session.
  8. There is no car damage:
    This was a highly-unfashionable decision, judging by most recent racing games, but I think it was reasonable. Contending with the churned-up track is probably enough challenge without having to drive with broken front suspension as well. For any mud-lovers reading, if you drive through lots of muddy areas, your car will get progressively muddier and, get this… feature at least three different shades of caked mud!! Um… yeah. Okay. You can sort of wash it off in the puddles, too. They made it happen right there before our eyes.
  9. Sixaxis tilt control will (probably) be used:
    Sega Rally Screenshot - Road RageWe didn’t play with it but were told that it is in there, for now. No confirmation on whether it be in the final version. If it’s anything like in MotorStorm, I wouldn’t miss it – far too unnatural-feeling to be any good. On the other hand, some people like to drive like that so we’re mentioning it anyway.
  10. You can turn off the track info:
    As we said in point 2, there are simplified, arcade-friendly pacenotes in the form of a verbal warning with associated orange HUD icons. Some people may find these distracting. If you don’t like things flashing onto your screen then have no fear. They are easily removable through the options.
  11. The AI is adaptive:
    No matter how good or how bad your driving is, Sega Rally will modify the AI to give you a decent challenge. Allegedly. It still needs tweaking as, according to the marketing team, none of the bloggers last week finished higher than third place. Only two came close and one of those was TheFluffyFist, rally-driver extraordinaire. He won a jacket and everything. He’s wearing the jacket prototype in the photo below and has done a remarkably good job of hiding all the giant SEGA logos. We didn’t get to take the giant trophy home. They told us that they’d have his name engraved on it at some point, not that he’ll ever get to see it or show anyone. Uhh.. back to the point, the marketing team assured us that the AI is still in development and will be much better in the finished version.

Sega Rally Alpine and Gearshift
As much fun as the game was, there are some additional things we should mention. Firstly, it’s named Sega Rally on this side of the Atlantic and Sega Rally Revo in the US.

Next, the track surface deformation is a good feature but is crippled by the current maximum race length of only four laps. In such a short race, you don’t really get to appreciate how the changes to the track’s surface will affect your lap times. This lap limit may change between now and the game’s impending release. We certainly hope it does.

Downloadable content will be available but has not yet been finalised. The current thinking from the development team is that if things are built, they should be in the game, not held back for later release or sale. No horse-armour from Solihull’s Sega Racing Studio.

There will be offline and online multiplayer support. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask if “offline multiplayer” means “split-screen multiplayer” or “bring your console and TV to a mate’s house multiplayer”. I really hope it’s the former. You can have up five online opponents or two-to-four split-screen offline multiplayer competitions. TheFluffyFist accepts his giant Sega Rally Trophy

Finally, we did play the game in Sega’s London offices. They provided dedicated racing pods complete with a huge flat-panel screens, Sparco racing seats, foot pedals, gearsticks and force-feedback Logitech steering wheels. All games seem better when you’re two feet from a 28-inch screen. We’re probably completely biased, but we don’t care. It was a really fun game. With any luck, it’s just as fun with a normal console controller.

Sega Rally will be released in the UK on 28th September on PS3, Xbox 360, PC and PSP. Oh, and mobile but I’ll be extremely surprised if that bears any resemblance to the version we played. Thanks go to the Sega Rally team for inviting us.

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Edit: It definitely does support offline split-screen multiplayer.