Sega Rally 2
Drop into any decent arcade and among the rows of linked-up hydraulic racers you should still be able to find a Sega Rally 2 cabinet. Not immediately apparent, it'll be obscured by a large group of excitable adrenalin junkies because, despite its age and comparatively dated graphics, the game has yet to be surpassed in terms of the sensation of speed and powersliding fun that it recreates. Historically, of course, arcade games never fare too well when converted to the PC. Indeed, the Sega PC back catalogue is littered with arcade classics that couldn't compete once their inherent lack of variety and longevity was laid bare in the home arena. Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA all proved that something extra is required if coin guzzlers are to make any impact outside of the arcades. Add to this the fact that the PC scene is already awash with racing games covering both the simulation (Colin McRae Rally) and arcade (Screamer Rally 2) aspects of the sport and it might seem that Sega are serving up too little too late.
Dreaming Of Better Things
Cynics would argue that they've already realised this, hence their decision to abandon publishing PC games in favour of backing the imminent European launch of the Dreamcast console. Speaking of the Dreamcast, PC purists will be interested to hear that Sega Rally 2 is the first game to be simultaneously developed for the PC and Sega's new baby, and the results should speak volumes as to the relative merits of each format. In fact, the two systems are so close in terms of their operating systems that the PC version is actually a port of the Dreamcast game - and that's where the good news starts. Those unfamiliar with Sega's flagship racer won't know that a pocketful of loose change and a couple of spare hours was enough to see off the arcade original, suffering as it did from a mere four - admittedly diverse - courses (desert, mountain, snow and Riviera). Arcade Sega Rally 2 abandoned the type of realistic physics model that a simulation would have demanded, in favour of exaggerated powersliding and invulnerable cars, the aim being to beat the clock to the next checkpoint while shaving split seconds off championship winning times. The cars - Escorts, Peugeots, Lancias and Toyotas - all handled in subtly different manners and the scenery was a joy to behold.
Adding To Perfection
Retaining all the best features of the original, Sega aim to boost the long-term appeal of the PC version by adding an inspired ten-year Championship mode which offers the incentive of bonus cars and extra stages for those up to the challenge. They've also included a host of variable weather conditions and the ability to tweak gears, suspension, brakes, tyre and transmission settings. The 19 computer-controlled opponents now provide ample challenge and demonstrate advanced AI, powersliding with controlled aggression and blocking your progress at every opportunity. They can't, however, beat the sheer competitiveness of the split-screen two-player mode, which maintains a blistering frame rate while sacrificing little of the graphical flair. Sega have even included the ability to race online against fellow competitors (something we suspect our European Dreamcast rivals won't be able to do for some time).
Stop The Clock
But ultimately it's the clock that provides the real challenge, as a tour of the official Japanese website reveals (the oriental release of the PC version occurred some months ago to coincide with the Dreamcast launch). Shaving hundredths of a second off lap times has become something of an obsession for our sushi-loving friends.
They've clearly warmed to the visual splendour of the game too - the term 'arcade perfect' has never been more appropriately used. The accelerated 3D visuals show off a plethora of special effects including wild animals encroaching onto the course and manic spectators taking snapshots as you fly by. Fans will be delighted to hear that the 'pick up and play' appeal of the arcade game has translated perfectly, along with the devilish course design. This, coupled with the handling seen in the seminal Saturn version, should ensure the game wins a legion of new fans, especially considering that the usual minor glitches and bugs associated with any new PC release have already been ironed out following the game's Japanese debut. So, just weeks away from the starting grid, it looks like Sega may finally deliver a game worthy of both its arcade heritage and any racing fan's attention.
Download Sega Rally 2
Fresh out of the arcade and into your home comes rally racing at its best. If you are looking for some serious arcade style rally racing, look no further. This game is one of the first true tests of the Dreamcast and its ability to make arcade ports. So how did it turn out? Read on and see.
Sega Rally 2 boasts an impressive number of options to keep you playing. This game is more than just an arcade port. You can play the arcade game but the real meat and potatoes lie in the ten year championship mode. You can try taking one of 19 cars across 16 tracks (12 are Dreamcast exclusives) and see if you have the skill to make it to the top of the leader ladder. Most people will not make it. Trust me.
This is one of those games that I have been looking forward to playing. I have played it a few times in the arcade (which is rare for me) so I knew what to expect out of the game. I love racing games and the Dreamcast has not had a great racer yet. I had heard about the troubles with the frame rate of the Japanese version of the game and heard that the entire online multiplayer had been dropped so, as far as I was concerned, the game started with two strikes against it right out of the gate. Fortunately, after playing for hours on end, it managed to redeem itself in most respects.
Let's start out with the multiplayer issue. Look, there is no getting around the fact that it totally sucks that there is not Internet play. Nothing can be said or done to change this fact. I was really disappointed that I could not play this game head to head against a friend. I understand that the Sega Gaming Network is taking a lot longer to put into place than originally anticipated but I cannot help but wonder why they could not have direct modem to modem multiplay. This is how multiplay started on the PC and the technology for this has been around forever. I would have been very happy if I could have dialed into another Dreamcast and played head to head. But alas, no such luck. The only multiplay you get is a two player split screen game. Lame.
Okay, if you are over the fact that you can't play your buddies over the modem, you will want to jump into the single payer action. You can either play the arcade mode or the awesome ten-year championship mode. The arcade mode is exactly as it sounds. It is the arcade game on your home TV. The ten-year championship mode allows you to race across ten years, trying to become the winner in every year out of the ten. Each year is made up of four races. You start the year ranked 16 out of 16 and it is up to you to make it to number one. You don't do it all in one race either. If you finish the first race in 12th place, you will start the second in 12th and so on.
I thought the ten-year championship mode was by far and away the best mode of the game but I would have liked it to be more of a career mode than it was. I did not like how every year the game starts you back at the bottom of the rankings. Even if you finished year one in first place, you start year two ranked in last place. Where is the reward in this? I would have rather had it so you could raise a couple of positions in the rankings each year until the last few years you are challenging for the number one position. This is a little nit-picky but I still thought it would have been a cool idea.
Now let's talk about the gameplay itself. Let me be the first to warn you: this game is freakin’ tough. It will take you hours and hours before you come in first place and that is in the first year of ten. The difficulty level borders on being too difficult for most gamers. I think there will be a lot of frustrated players out there. On the other hand, once you get the feel of the cars down, it is very rewarding when (or if) you do finally win. There is a great feeling of accomplishment by winning a year. Speaking of getting the feel of the cars down, it will take you bit before you really feel like you have any control over the cars. Most of the time, you will feel like you are sliding on ice when you go around corners (even on the courses that are not ice). You will really have to master the braking and turning techniques to shave seconds off your time. You can customize everything on your car from the tires to the shocks to the steering and I suggest you make plenty of adjustments because without it, you will never win a race.
My biggest complaint about this game has got to be this difficulty level and learning curve. I think it will turn most casual gamers away in frustration. There were times that I found myself feeling that it was impossible to win. I would keep trying and after I found the right combinations of car tweaks, I would manage to barely win. I just don't think most casual gamers are going to want to invest the time learning the minor nuances required to succeed at this game but hardcore gamers should be in heaven.
Okay, here is the other big topic surrounding this game. How does the frame rate hold up? I was a bit disappointed. I have heard that there have been some major enhancements in this version over the Japanese one. If so, I would hate to see the Japanese version because this game suffers from some serious slow down. The most frustrating part I noticed was when I was playing and the game wasn't slowing down at all, I would really feel like I was flying but once I hit a turn, it would all slow down. Now don't get me wrong, it is not unplayable at all but it is disappointing. I really hope that the problem is in the programming and not the system hardware because if a first generation game is maxing the hardware out, Sega is in trouble. Other than the frame rate problems and a bit of background draw in, the game looks pretty good. The environmental effects are cool and the cars look great.
If you are not up for a serious challenge, you might as well not bother. Even the arcade mode is tough. You have to sit down and decide that you are willing to invest the time to learn all of the ins and outs of the cars and the tracks before you expect to win and even then it is going to be difficult. I was disappointed with the lack of Internet play and the frame rate issues but the game is still fun. It is the best racing game on the system without question but I really hope that the problems are in the programming an not the hardware
Virtua Fighter 3tb proved the Dreamcast could do near-perfect Model 3 ports, andSonic Adventure showed the system could handle speed. With Sega Rally 2, Sega now adds "playability" to the list of DC can-dos. The graphics are indeed good, but it's the dead-on gameplay that makes this title an instant winner.
Unlike the no-frills conversion of VF3tb, Sega Rally 2 comes packed with extras. In addition to the Arcade Mode, there's a new 10-Year Championship Mode, as well as a Time Attack Mode. And while the arcade version has four tracks and eight cars, the home version is loaded with 20 cars and numerous variations of the four arcade tracks (17 in total). By far the coolest addition is the 10-Year mode, where you race through 10 seasons consisting of a set number of tracks in different weather conditions. The races get progressively more difficult but you can tweak your car's settings before each track (suspension, gear ratios, steering, tires, etc.) in order to improve your chances of winning. You'll need to learn the tracks well and get skilled at drifting if you want to stand a chance at winning some of the tougher tracks.
The one area where Rally 2 has visible flaws is the frame-rate. It dips from 6ofps to 3ofps quite a bit (especially on turns), and occasionally it'll drop even lower, though not too often. While the slowdown that occurs doesn't affect gameplay much (thank God), it is noticeable. When it's going steady at 6ofps however, it's truly a sight to behold--we're talking some of the most beautiful graphics we've ever seen. Hopefully the U.S. version will be tweaked in this area, but if not, perhaps an option to keep the fps at 30 (so it stays consistent) would suffice.
Sega Rally 2 also features two-player split-screen play, and it's the first DC title to support multiplayer action via net play (up to four players). In case you're interested, we did give network play a whirl at our offices in Japan, and we were impressed. The gameplay was a little choppy at times, but for the most part everything ran smoothly. Being able to chat with other players before and after the races is definitely cool.
We'll be back with an updated preview of Rally 2 as soon as we get our hands on the U.S. version.
You'll no doubt read elsewhere that Rally 2 suffers because it doesn't hold a constant 30 fps, and that this is terribly disappointing. You know what though? Who cares? It's still by far the best-looking and most natural-feeling rally game around...and it's without any shadow of a doubt the best racing game you'll see on the Dreamcast for a while. It looks as good, if not better than the arcade game--and has more cars and tracks too. Those of you who have played the import version before will be pleased to hear that there are changes in the U.S. release...and unusually some of these are very Euro-centric as they're just more recently released cars. Aside from this, all is present and correct. Most importantly the 'feel' of the game is still exactly right, and the sense of competition it inspires is topnotch. You actually feel like you're chasing after the other drivers, and as you work your way through the 10-year championship mode, you find yourself on the edge of your seat desperately trying to get into first place. You'll even find yourself taking notes to help you set your car up each time too...you really need to get the gearing and suspension settings 'just right' if you're going to win. It's a shame that the multiplayer experience only offers you a two-player game...this would be so great with four of you battling it out.
The import version of Sega Rally 2 is still one of my favorite console racers of all time. Aside from the finicky drop in frame-rate from 60 to 30, the game is beautiful in just about every other respect. I don't quite understand the reason behind the changes in the U.S. version (with the frame-rate codes), but the new cars are a blast to use. With Sega GT still in development, Rally 2 is the best racer you can get for your Dreamcast.
Once you get the hang of it you'll truly appreciate this racer. The presentation is awesome, everything from the reflections on the back windows to the graphic detail on the tracks. Car selection is bountiful and full of adjustment options. This is the kind of racing game that'll draw you in for hours at a time. Even so I wish the frame-rate was a touch faster, especially around the corners. Without a doubt this is the best racing sim for the DC.
It's been a long time in coming, but finally Sega Rally 2 arrives on the U.S. Dreamcast. It looks a bit more polished than the Japanese version--and wow, is it one damn fine-looking game. Sure, there's no online play, but the game holds up fine without it, especially since other enhancements were made to the game. Easily the top of the heap as far as Dreamcast racing games go. If you have a DC and don't have this game, you're missing out.
The Dreamcast is getting its first tank of high octane with Sega Rally 2, the arcade port of Segas popular off-road franchise. Have no fear, racing fans--this is one game designed specifically for your lead foot.
Sega Rally 2 offers just what its arcade counterpart did: Six tracks of wild off-road rally racing filled with mud puddles, icy patches, hairpin turns, baby jumps, and all the powersliding you can handle. SR2 looks miles ahead of its console competition and certainly holds its own against slick 3D-accelerated raceis on the PC. As for visuals. each of the eight cars starts every race fully polished as if they were just given a fresh wax job; as you speed around the tracks, however, the dirt and snow from the course will slowly coat the sides and back of your vehicle. As you thunder past, you'll also notice zebras and giraffes on the side of the Desert tracks, while animals and people scurry out of your way. Unfortunately, many of the other spectators are flat, inanimate sprites.
Yet, for all the 128-bit hype, you'd think Segas engineers could get around the age-old problems of pop-up and draw-in. You won't remark the magically appearing horizon too much on single-player racers, but the split-screen slwwdowns sure suffer. Then again, maybe you'll be moving too fast to let it bother you.
Hear and Now
Powersliding is the key to SR 2 success, and the Drcamcast controller delivers tight response and lasting comfort Audiowise, there's not much interesting going on: The standard pop/rock tunes are transparent many sound effects return from the original Rally, and the engines sound authentic enough. Plus, the announcer spits out extended track instructions--"Very very long medium right, maybe."--it's like playing Simon Says. A track map would be a bit more useful.
The Home Stretch
Fancy instant replays, weather effects, and tweakable car-settings are all icing on the cake. What really shines here are the graphics and the exhilarating sense of racing abandon. Start your engines, gamers. Sega Rally 2 delivers the arcade goods.
- There's a secret mini-game on the Riviera track. As you come around the last curve, hit the two pylons on the left side of the corner to open up a tunnel just before that same curve during your next time around. Drive through the tunnel and hit as many cones as you can!
- The best way to foil your opponent is to clip their nose as you powerslide around a corner.
- Forget the brakes on the easy tracks. Pump the gas and coast around corners.
- Rewing it at the starting line won't get you far. Wait for the signal, then floor it.
- For championships, a four-speed transmission will accelerate better on tight turns and short tracks.
Its hard not to gush about how smooth and tactile everything looks or about the games to-die-for frame rate. If only the two-player games weren't plagued by pop-up and draw-in.
Cars feature varied engine sounds--and even if some of them sound anemic, at least they're accurate. But the pseudo-Van Halen rock soundtrack and cheery announcers voice will wear on you quickly.
Using the shoulder-triggers for the gas and the brake was daunting at first, but soon it made total sense: gas on the right, brake on the left, just like a real car. The analog steering gives you excellent responsiveness and accuracy.
With various routes through die tracks, a 10-year championship mode, and two-player modes on the Dreamcast and via the internal modem, there's enough power-slide-packed racing here to keep your motor runnin' for a long time.