|a game by||Steel Monkeys|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 2|
|User Rating:||8.5/10 - 4 votes|
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|See also:||Download Racing Games|
As the pictures - and the curiously spelt title -suggest, this is yet another addition to the PC's inestimable canon of rally games. You won't find a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic here though, as the game is based on a 5,000km cross-country schlep between Paris and Moscow. Clearly, such an undertaking requires more than a glorified boy racer-mobile, and the vehicles here are sturdy affairs, boasting equally chunky names such as the Tommek Dirtbeast or the Draghov Imagino. Quite.
Built for comfort rather than speed, the emphasis is on maintaining momentum over the wilfully hazardous terrain. Although there is a vague course to follow, it is often barely discernible from the surrounding scenery, and knowing where you're going is something of a challenge, with only the rough direction hinted at via a supposed GPS system. Furthermore, rather than the de rigeur co-driver of other rally games, pace notes appear in the form of somewhat cryptic schematic diagrams, the deciphering of which is almost a game in itself.
Flip Yer Buggy
It's a wide-open affair, with multiple paths available to the adventurous driver. The numerous short cuts present something of a quandary; whether to stick to the beaten track or go native, risking damage to your Buggy. Shaving tenths of a second off at each bend does seem a little irrelevant when you can simply thread across the fields, although it is perversely gratifying to see your Al opponents take the same slightly dishonest route.
As for these opponents, a maximum of three are offered, and races can be lonely affairs if you get off to a particularly good or bad start. There are a shedload of rallies to compete for though, with some infuriatingly addictive checkpoint and challenge modes. It's actually a surprisingly good game, even more so considering developer Steel Monkeys' heritage consists solely of an allegedly educational Bob The Builder title. Master Rallye will inevitably get lost amongst the off-road detritus, but is well worth seeking out.
Download Master Rallye
With the PC drowning in a flood of rally games, this was never going to provide a genuine challenge to the dominance of Colin McRae. In fairness, it wasn't trying to though, and offered an alternative take on off-road shenanigans, recreating a little known cross-country event that takes place between Paris and Moscow. There's no place here for your Ford Focus or Peugeot 206, with stages instead contested by glorified tractors capable of lasting the distance over some challenging terrain. Clearly you don't have to attempt the entire 5,000 kilometres, and a number of different modes offer a reasonable amount of variety. Straying from the beaten track is a common occurrence, and it's often a case of finding your way to the next checkpoint by any means necessary. The handling is fairly robust and it's playable enough to have you slapping the keyboard for more, particularly in the tightly balanced arcade style checkpoint mode.
As predicted, Master Rallye disappeared without a trace upon its initial release, and has swiftly found its way into the bargain basement. But at this price, you can't really go wrong