Rally games seem to be growing steadily in popularity, at least on the PS2.
While I would have liked Activision to release this on the GCN like they should
have, I have to turn to my PS2 for my rally fix. But on the PS2, the rally
games are not limited in supply, and some are better than others. You have your
choice of this, Shox, V-Rally 3, Colin McCrae Rally 3, World Rally Championship
and even the rally stages in Gran Turismo 3. So, is Rally Fusion worth your time?
Depends on what you want.
Out of the field of rally racers, Rally Fusion seems to have the most variety.
McCrae 3 is very limited in modes, Shox has no championship series, V-Rally 3 is
basically championship oriented as is WRC. Here, you can either go for the ROC
Championship or take on the ROC Challenges. If the game was based entirely upon
the ROC Championship, I'd say pass on the game. The championship is raced on only
one annoying course many times over with different cars, and realistically, it
could be finished in 20 minutes if you're good. But the ROC Challenge really opens
the game up to some variety. You'll race in a traditional rally, or take on others
in the rally cross. There's also championships, challenge stages, hill climbs,
elimination races, follow the leader races and probably a couple of others I
forgot to mention. You're not stuck on one course doing one thing, or stuck in
a single dedicated championship. Then there's the single races and the custom
championship option to create your own championships. On paper, this sounds great,
but how does the rest of the game hold up?
You have a good number of cars to select from in three different classes, and
for some reason, Class B seems to have the most cars (like it's necessary). And
of course, they're licensed. You have the standard Mitsubishi Lancer (VI), Toyota
Celica and Corolla and the Lancia Stratos and Delta. They also toss in some rally
cars that I've never seen such as the Opel Manta and Kadet, some rally-fitted buggies
and even a Toyota Rav 4. But I ask this: where the hell is the Subaru Impreza?
My favorite rally car, which appears in almost every rally game, is not here. Also,
why are we stuck with an older Lancer Evolution. The car looks like the Evo VI,
but we should be getting the Evo VII (the body designs are pretty different, as well
as the specs, so that's why I'm bitching). The overall selection isn't bad, but
I want may favorites in here.
Now, how do they handle? Unlike most rally games in the past, the controls and
hadling seemed to be fairly loose and arcade like. V-Rally 2 and Sega Rally 2
come to mind, as well as Shox. Here, the game seems even more unforgiving than
GT3's rally handling. In fact, GT3 did it much better than what's here. Controlling
the cars is not an impossible feat, but requires a hell of a lot more skill and
effort. The biggest problem I have is with braking, which seems almost non-existent.
The handbrake does a slightly better job, and even when I do slow down, my car
still tends to slide a little more than it should. But the controls is not the worst
element of the game. The worst thing about the game is the AI, which is way too
aggressive. At times, this game seems more like a demolition derby than a rally
race. The CPU controlled cars will smack you, push you, and just be a real pain
in the ass. Seeing how these cars cost so much to produce (in real life), why
would people drive with such wreckless abandonment. I did have the same problem
in Shox, as well. What's with rally drivers?
The courses in the game range from a central city park to a North American desert
to a coastline track. Of course, no real places are used (why bother), but they
do look like places that can exist in the real world. There should have been a couple
more places, such as a forest and an ACTUAL city course, perhaps around Italy.
The graphics are fairly good, but you can really knit-pick at some of the details.
The car models are good, and the courses look fairly solid. Weather effects are done
well, and there are a few special effects, like some glinting of the ice in the
moutain stage. But then you have some framerate issues, flickering in shadow areas,
some flat textures and some occasional seams. Plus, some effects were never employed,
such as splashing water when you go through a puddle. The graphical package is about
one notch lower than Shox, but it's not a horrid looking piece of crap.
The sound, well, what can you say. The music is only in the menu, and is absent
during the races. I like music in my racing games, thank you. The engines kind of
sound similar to each other, and sound very throaty. The co-pilot can be turned off,
which is good when he starts to start bitching about your driving. Not stellar, but
could have had a little more attention devoted to it.
Rally Fusion has the options to make it different from other racing games, which
can be a nice change of pace from racing in a single championship or many single
races. But it's a racing game that may be more off-putting than the rest of the pack.
It feels like a really heavy sim, but the stage design says different. If you need
a rally racer, give this a shot.