Mobil 1 Rally Championship
|a game by||Creative Asylum Limited|
|Editor Rating:||6.5/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||6.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Now approaching its fifth incarnation, the long-running Rally series certainly has the heritage, not to mention the till receipts, having shifted over a million copies to date. Situated on the outskirts of Chester - the home of football (You what?! - Ed) developers Magnetic Fields have been churning out driving games for years, and Rally Championship 99 is shaping up to be arguably their best effort yet. Magnetic Fields have dabbled in the realms of fantasy in the past, so anal authenticity and photo-realistic graphics are the order of the day. The Mobil British Rally Championship provides the basis for the game, which will feature 36 tracks recreated from Ordnance Survey maps and actual video footage. None of the textures are hand-drawn; everything is based on original photography, which is a mammoth undertaking as some tracks are 25 miles long.
It appears to have been worth the effort, though, as demonstrated on our recent visit when we were shown footage of a section of track, followed by its computer-generated counterpart. Surprisingly, the latter, if anything, looked even better than the real thing.
But using actual tracks isn't without its pitfalls, because of the problem of pop-up - something that can often be avoided with cunning track design. This isn't an option afforded to Magnetic Fields though, and the version of Rally Champ 99 we saw had more pop-up than, er... a pop-up book. But we were assured that once the code is optimised this will be negligible.
A major criticism of previous incarnations of Rally has been the limited freedom of movement - the earlier games were akin to driving through an invisible tunnel. This issue has been addressed and, while it's not quite Carmageddon - thankfully - it looks to be a vast improvement on the efforts of yore. You can pretty much drive where you like, even to the extent of visits to nearby farmhouses.
Clearly, cars have an important part to play in driving games, and Rally 99 boasts genuine vehicles, the exteriors and interiors of which have been extensively modelled. The usual driving views are included, as well as the navigator's. The game's realism is such that the object and texture animation includes flowing water routines that require the windscreen wipers to be activated to remove rain - which looks smart. As does the rest of the game, so watch this space.