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reviews >> playstation 2
Rally Fusion

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Climax
Year Released: 2002
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 8.5
It's a fairly nice looking game with some good effects sprinkled about the course, but some flat textures spoil the look somewhat. A great deal of car damage can be inflicted.
Audio 8
Some good sound effects and some understandable co-pilot dialouge, but I wish there was music during the races.
Gameplay 7.5
This is one of the toughest controlling rally racers I've ever played. It seems like such a struggle to keep your car on the right path.
Replay Value 8.25
There's a lot of race events to play through, which should keep you busy for awhile. Of course, that is if you don't break your controller out of sheer rage and frustration from losing often.
Reviewer's Impression 7
This rally racer is a pretty brutal affair, because the handling model is too demanding and the AI is a bit too perfect when it comes to knowing the nuances of the courses.
Overall 8
If you're looking for a challenging rally racer Rally Fusion may be just for you. But I preffer my rally racers to not kick me in the groin repeatedly by the AI and handling model.

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.