Sega Rally 2 Championship
|a game by||Sega AM5 R&D Division|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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It would appear that Sega have gone and done it then. The long awaited Dreamcast flying off the shelves like proverbial warm pies, despite the tiresome doom-mongering of numerous self-appointed experts. Sega Rally 2 is one of the titles that has helped establish its success, and its early sales were bettered only by the outlandish adventures of a hyperactive blue hedgehog -proof, if proof were needed, that, if in doubt the general public will stick to what they know.
They of course know Sega Rally 2from the arcades, the huge cabinets providing the focal point of any well kept establishment. Generally surrounded by callow youths discussing the relative merits of Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas, the main attraction is the eight-player link-up, providing many punters with their first true experience of multi-player gaming. Of course, it's no problem for PC owners, providing of course you have up to eight PC's or access to 'The Internet.'
So what else is different from the Dreamcast version? Absolutely nothing, although if anything the graphics are better, the PC offering an 800x600 resolution. While PlayStation-weaned Dreamcast owners have been drooling at the game's visuals on their shiny new console, to hardened PC gamers, they're really no big shakes. Obviously they look perfectly all right, it's just that we've become used to astounding 3D graphics, so they're not as likely to elicit as eager a response.
For those who've never stepped into an arcade and have deliberately looked away when confronted with a Dreamcast, Sega Rally 2 involves tearing around a number of locations in the boy racer mobile of your choice. The tracks are categorised into Desert, Mountain, Snowy, Riviera, Muddy and Isle, respectively recreating vague approximations of Africa, Corsica, Sweden, Monte Carlo, Indonesia, and Spain, all standard rally fare. The cars sound like high-powered hoovers, and pretty much handle like them too. They don't roll, you can't look behind, and you can't reverse. Unlike your Dyson Upright though, they can be tweaked in terms of brakes, tyre type, transmission, gear ratio, suspension and steering. If you're not remotely interested in what goes on under the bonnet, don't worry - especially as the various settings don't make a great deal of difference and are used to make car spods feel clever.
The game is instantly playable, and on the easier courses at least, driving largely consists of one long powerslide, with little recourse to braking or cornering sensibly. Whilst clearly not for the purist, it is still immense fun, and shaving crucial seconds off a lap time can be enjoyable. As for viewpoints, there are only two; a chase view that enables you to see your car, and the standard first person affair favoured by people who choose to play a la virtual reality computer game style. Unlike the arcade game, a Ten Year Championship is included, with further cars and tracks unlocked as progress is made. It certainly adds some challenge, and by about year seven you will have to be very good indeed to advance. Other cars do appear throughout the game, although they are simply obstacles, as it is all about lap times as opposed to actual racing. This of course changes in the two player split screen mode, and in the previously mentioned multiplayer options.
By default, Sega Rally 2is the best rally game on the Dreamcast. However, the PC is a very different bag and is currently swamped with a glut of rally games, including some superb benchmark titles. Sega Rally 2is a world away from the hardcore action of Colin McRae, or the anal authenticity of Rally Championship. It's arcade action all the way, and the co-driver's high-eyebrowed exclamations are the antithesis of misery McRae's dry intonation. They're fully in keeping with the ostentatious feel though, as is the ludicrous music and the sickeningly cheesy soundbite, "Game Over Yeaaaah!" Arcade games aren't necessarily a bad thing though, otherwise arcades would be empty and drug dealers wouldn't do a lot of business. But, clearly showing its arcade roots, Sega Rally 2 is heavy on the 'one more go' factor and will have you frantically slapping the pad for another spin, untroubled by the prospect of having to throw another quid down the grid. The fact that you have probably spent thousands of pounds on a machine so you can sit in the dark and play games is a different matter altogether, and one that you will have to take up with your personal analyst.
Sega and the PC have had a chequered past, and have always been the most uncomfortable of bedfellows with the original Sega Rally being fairly moribund, despite its success on the doomed Saturn. It's probably a sign of Sega's turnabout in fortunes that the Dreamcast is flying, and they seem to have turned out a decent, if identical, PC game at last. Furthermore, Sega Rally 2 proves that what the Dreamcast can do, the PC can at least match without breaking into a sweat - although there was never really any doubt of that.
Ultimately, you have four choices. Show no interest in Sega Rally 2 whatsoever and go about your normal business. Venture down to the local Happy Land arcade with a pocket full of bollocks and a wallet full of cash, risking your life at the hands of drug-crazed thugs. Go to a shop and fork out for a copy of the game and a Dreamcast in a big box. Buy this PC game in your normal manner. You decide.