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reviews >> xbox
RalliSport Challenge

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: DICE
Year Released: 2002
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 9.5
Pretty much what you should expect from an Xbox game. Great textures, lighting, effects and particles. The framerate is also pretty solid.
Audio 8.75
Standard techno and expected sound effects. Does support custom soundtracks, so that's a plus.
Gameplay 8.75
It's accessible enough for people to get into, but lacks the tuning options sim fans look for. I think the handling could have been tightened just a little more, but that's just me.
Replay Value 8.25
While the game is challenging, the main championship mode isn't terribly long. Most may get about 8 hours out of the game, maybe more if you go multiplayer.
Reviewer's Impression 9
This is one of the better rally racing games I've played. I think there's still room for some adjustments, but this is a very promising franchise.
Overall 9
Microsoft does really well into uncharted territory. I used to think that they had weak first-party efforts, but after actually playing them (like Project Gotham and this), I've been proven wrong. Microsoft has the basis of a strong franchise here.

RalliSport Challenge is not only Microsoft's first rally racer, but I believe it's also the first rally racer for the Xbox. Even if there was competition from future players such as Rally Fusion and V-Rally 3, it really still can't compete with the visual spledor and level of accessabillity RalliSport has. While not a perfect racing game, RalliSport may be one of the best rally racing games I've played yet, and I've played my fair share of them.

RSC plays out like many other rally racing games available. You have a number of cars to choose from, events and championships to compete through and try to keep your self from rolling over as many times as possible because you didn't listen to the directions your co-pilot was giving you. A slight difference in RSC's modes come in the racing events. While many rally racing games such as V-Rally and WRC offer many point-to-point courses, RSC offers that, plus ralli-cross, hill-climb and ice racing events. There's a little more variety in the racing modes in RSC than other rally racers. But for some reason, this comes at a price. There's not as many courses found here as you would in some other games in this genre. Granted, there's over 40 courses overall in the game, but they do tend to be repeated in championship events. Those looking for veriety in the course layouts for the long term may be a bit disappointed, especially where the "classic" rally events are concerned. With only three different areas to compete in, it pales in compairson to the V-Rally series, where you can race in 12 different locales. Sure, there are different locations in the other events, but again the story is the same, you'll only have 3 or so different locales for that event.

The game's design is fairly accessible when it comes to the car's handling. It's not overly loose, but not really tight either. Those who like racing sims may not find a lot of complexity in the car's handling or within the tuning options. That really shouldn't stop you from having fun racing, but if you're expecting to finely tune your car, this isn't your racing game. The difficulty level, at least on normnal, is prety challenging, much more than the novice difficulty. Those who find themselves losing often on the normal game setting may want to dumb it down by going to novice. I know I had to, and I'm usually pretty good at racing games. So, for those who want some challenge in their racing games could give this one a look.

The gameplay modes you should expect (like what you can participate in) are pretty much standard fare. You have a championship mode, a single race mode, a time trial mode and a multiplayer mode. It's what you expect to find in a game like this, and nothing more. It would hav been nice to see a course editor like the V-Rally series, or at least a championship editior like the Colin McRae series or Rally Fusion. It's basically when you finish the championship mode, there's not much else to do besides single races or time trials, if you feel like it.

The visuals of the game is pretty much why you and I bought an Xbox. RSC is by far the best looking rally racer I've ever played. There is such a difference when you come off the offerings on the PS2 and move on to the Xbox, such as better texturing, better lighting, more detail, less slowdown, less pop-up, more car detail and more particle effects. RSC is a visual delight, and if there was one game to show off what the Xbox could do in terms of visuals, besides Halo, this game would be it. The ice glistening effect used on the the ice racing events is worth the price of admission alone, it's gorgeous.

The sound is also pretty good, but can be customized to your liking. The developers of RSC actually put music in the game, unlike quite a few rally racers I've played. It's mostly comprised of techno sounds, so if that's not your cup of tea, you can use the custom soundtrack function and find your own jam. The sound effects are pretty much what I expect for the game. The engine sounds are good, but may run a bit similar across all cars. There's some ambient sounds, as well as a good number of crunches, smashes and what not when you crash your car. The co-piolt is pretty understandable, with no thick accent that may confuse you (like McRae rally).

Final Thought

RalliSport Challenge is pretty much the first rally racer on the Xbox, but it's also one to take note of. The visuals are fantastic, the gameplay is fairly accessible, and it definitley has what it takes to stand up to the competition. While it does lack the sim elements, like car tuning, I think this could be a racing game that anyone can get into, no matter where you stand on the racing game spectrum. It is a bit short, though, so for those who are looking to spend 30-40 hours racing may be a little disappointed. Even so, this is a great first effort into the genre by Microsoft, and are proving themselves to be quite a force in the racing market.