South Park Rally
Perhaps the easiest and most popular spin-off game to produce has been the mascot racer. Mario has had one. So has Sonic, Bomberman, Chocobo and Crash Bandicoot (note to Sony, there's still time to rename it "Crash BandiKart"). And now Acclaim is about to give South Park, one of the hottest (and most controversial) pop-culture licenses, the same treatment with South Park Rally. A logical move, considering South Park's current peak in popularity (TV show, feature movie, merchandising) and the fact that mascot racers tend to sell moderately well. The real question will be "How is this different from any other racing game, mascot-themed or not?"
The focus of the game is more on the interaction between players rather than straight old-fashioned racing. Because of a more mission-based objective, players are encouraged to go after each other before crossing the finish line. There are seven tracks (all set in "real" South Park locales) in the game, and for each track, there are 12 possible modes of play.
Each mode is based on a South Park holiday, such as Christmas or Cow Days, and up to four players can participate. Each vehicle is specific to the character behind the wheel. Stan is in his father's hot-rod, Grandpa races a wheelchair equipped with jet rockets, and Officer Barbrady exerts his 'authori-tay' from his police cruiser. As with most multiplayer racers, a variety of power-up items are littered about the course. Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls, the Mexican Staring Frog and Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo are just some of the various weapons. Adding to the authenticity are show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who along with Isaac Hayes (the voice of Chef and the singer of the theme from Shaft) have once again lent their voices to create over a hundred new soundbytes for all the characters.
South Park Rally should hit the stores this December, just in time for the frantic holiday shopping season. It makes you wonder how many unsuspecting mothers will pick it up for their kids, thinking it's a harmless cartoon. Maybe the sight of Satan taking out Jesus' cloud will tip them off?
Download South Park Rally
Acclaim scores a hat-trick of crap with this, the third of its South Park games. It's not often that a franchise is cocked up with such monumental ineptitude, but this realty does blow the top off the crapome-ter. You can imagine the brainstorming meeting before this thing got pooped out: "Hey guys...would-n't it be great, like, if we took all of the South Park characters and put them in a kinda racing game--y'know, a bit like Mario Kart?" Yeah, what a great idea. Tell you what...why don't you take all of the humor out of it too, make the graphics sucky, fill it with glitch bugs, make it devoid of any fun--and then make it an N64 game so it finally bangs a few more nails into the unfortunate system's coffin. Sure, a half-assed attempt has been made at making it "more" than "just a racing game"--but the net result is that the new ideas complicate things too much. The proof of the pudding should be the multiplayer experience...but whenever we tried it, most of those playing it gave up in disgust because they couldn't work out what they were supposed to be doing. In the "Ass Battle" (ho-ho), a cheap rip-off of the Battle Mode in Mario Kart, the graphics are so bad you can't even see each other. What's the point? Flushing S50 down the crapper would probably be more fun than playing this.
Remember when Acclaim turned out nothing but licensed crap--and how Turok saved the company from ruin? Looks like old habits die hard. Without the SP sound effects, this game Is nothing. A game like this has to be simple enough to jump into on a weekend rental so you and your friends who've never played it can have fun. You can hardly see where you're going and you can fall through/drive through the tiniest cracks. Poorly designed.
If Acclaim doesn't stop projectile vomiting out half-assed South Park games, they're going to gain back the bottom-of-the-barrel licensing whore reputation that they've gotten rid of over the last few years. This game has horrible level design (with all sorts of nooks and crannies in which to get stuck), annoying obstacles, unbalanced weapons, a mediocre frame-rate and more nauseating badness. The variety of objectives is the only bright point here.
In a word...crap. That's putting it nicely folks. South Park Rally fails on so many levels it's a sure bet for next year's "Cream of the Crap" award. It's not funny, it's not competent as a real racing game and it looks terrible. Oh yeah, multiplayer is confusing. I'm surprised Acclaim would release such a bomb. I guess since they let Quarterback Club 2000 go, they'll release anything. Only the most hardcore South Park fans should even consider renting this.
Oh my god, they've killed karting!
When Trey Parker and Matt Stone first created South Park they were onto a sure-fire winner. As a result, our high street stores have been flooded with shelves upon shelves of South Park merchandising. All of this is fairly understandable - hell, even the film was pretty good - but when South Park 64 came out we knew it had gone too far. And now there is another South Park game ready to be unleashed on the unsuspecting public, and not even Jesus and pals can give this baby redemption.
It's not that this game is bad. The gameplay is in fact quite good and extremely original for a game of its type. Unfortunately this is where the enjoyment ends. It's much like eating a slice of pizza and then realising that you have to eat the crust as well because without it the tomato and cheese treat would not exist. The crucial crust elements of South Park Rally, or any other karting game, are the controls and the multiplayer, both of which are dire in this game.
I'm not Fat, I'm big Boned!
Right from when you first start playing this game, you'll realise that the controls are going to take quite some getting used to. In fact, after a few corners you'll probably be throwing the controller down in frustration as the computer-controlled opponents glide effortlessly past you. This isn't the fault of the main controls but more a fault of the so-called powerslide, which is only useful if you want to turn a full 180°. This amazing spin does come in handy sometimes, but it does mean that you can't physically tackle difficult corners with any real style.
Admittedly you do get used to the controls after a while, but the game is already difficult enough. You don't want to have to worry about whether or not your racer will be able to negotiate an otherwise easy section of track. The idea in South Park Rally is not to finish several circuits of the track, but instead to find the quickest routes between different locations. For the most part, you have to perform certain tasks before your opponents do. These tasks or races can be split into two different types; checkpoint or tag. In checkpoint games you have to make your way between four checkpoints in order to win, and in tag games you have to steal objects off your opponents. This is all quite complicated to start with, and the poorly designed levels don't help any.
Salisbury steak Day
Attempts have been made to make the game as clear as possible, but these all fail miserably. On the head-up display you get a map showing everyone's position and a big blue arrow above you pointing towards your next arrow on the play area pointing at the item you need. The green arrow is at least some help, but NASA would have trouble finding some of the things in this game even if they were using the Hubble space telescope. The map on a lot of the levels is too confusing because of dense roads or overlapping sections, and the blue objective arrow only comes on when you are near the target. This doesn't exactly help when the objective is moving!
Once you get into the game and become used to its workings though, the whole idea seems genius and can be more fun to play than any straightforward race.
Take, for example, the Mad Cow run. On this game you have to get hold of and keep the cure to mad cow disease, curing 100 percent of your disease to win. This may sound simple, but is great fun when you've got five other computer cars going after the cure as well, all battling for salvation. On another game you have to collect Cupid's bow and arrow to shoot all the other players with - no prize for guessing this takes place on the Big Gay Al track!
They killed Kenny!
All seven of the tracks on offer each have their own in-jokes and references to the South Park series. Die-hard fans will no doubt take great pleasure in spotting all the bits from various episodes. There are also a surprising amount of characters in the game to choose from - including secret characters, there are 27 in total! For your pleasure you get everyone from Starvin' Marvin right through to Jesus, who Nintendo banned from the first N64 ** South Park** game. You'll be pleased to hear that each and every one of them has their own little batch of immature sound effects to bring a smile to your face. Keeping true to South Park, all of the weapons in the game are linked to the series in some way or another. As you run over the brightly coloured boxes you will collect Terrance and Phillip fart boosts. Pink Eyes and Ten Dollar Whores to unleash at your enemy. Most of the weapons are useless because of how difficult they are to aim, but it's still good to see your opponents fall victim to the likes of the Mexican Staring Frog.
Some of the boxes when collected give you a booby prize, the most amusing of which has to be the Saddam Hussein attack which fills your screen with images of the evil dictator, obscuring your view.
It's So Super To See You
One major let down of South Park Rally is the graphical effects from the weapons, which do look a little weak for what they are. You want to see a little more, when firing projectile vomit at another racer, than a few yellow specks! The graphics themselves are nothing to get excited over either, and it is sad to say it does feel like you are running the game through Sony's box. This polygonal unsmoothed approach may have removed all fog, but it doesn't do the look of the game any favours either.
The biggest disappointment of South Park Rally comes when you gather up four mates to play the multiplayer game. Unless all four people know the game inside-out or have the patience to learn it, there is no fun at all to be had. It would have been so much better - and long-lived - if the game were a mix of straightforward races and party-style games. Instead all you get are the party games, most of which destroy any element of fun because not everyone will know how to play. Suffice to say if you are looking for a good fun multiplayer racer game, then don't bother looking here.
After a shaky debut, Acclaim's South Park games are making steady strides towards respectability. There's the hilarious Chef's Luv Shack (flip to page 66 for the review) and now this - the first karting game that tries to do something other than foolishly steal from Mario Kart.
Instead of having a set of ordinary tracks to race around. South Park Rally has a selection of locations from the cartoon with huge road networks criss-crossing them, and rather than just racing a set number of laps around a certain route, you get loads of different missions to attempt. For example, you might be asked to collect halloween candy and deliver it to a certain point, with all the computer characters racing off in different directions to gather their own supply, or you might have to be the first to hit selected other racers with Cupid's arrow. One of the best missions we've seen so far involves collecting a present and hitting four checkpoints whilst carrying it. Sounds easy enough, but the player carrying the present becomes an instant target for everyone else as they try to steal it. Tricky, hectic and great fun - a kind of Turok.
As you'd expect, just about every character from the TV series makes an appearance, complete with their own themed kart or other vehicle, so in addition to the familiar quartet of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny, you also get the pram-driving Ike, Grandpa in his wheelchair and Jesus (driving a cloud). The 30 playable characters also include the incredibly tasteless Starvin' Marvin, a stick-thin Ethiopian who rides around or a bag of aid agency wheat.
The weapons are just as bizarre as the racers. You can zap people with alien death rays, set a vicious dog on them, fire off what looks like an inflatable woman (we haven't figured out what it does yet), or invoke the ghostly presence of Saddam Hussein. Up to three items can be stored and used to administer large doses of hurt to the other players.
All of the different missions are also available as multiplayer contests, along with a strange American football game featuring a pitch filled with wandering cows. As with any karting game, South Park Rally is at its best with four players, although we hope that the frame rate can be improved for the final version. At the moment it's very smooth with just one or two players, but the larger levels can get a little jumpy when running in four windows.
We're really looking forward to this one. After enduring so many inferior Mario Kart clones over the years, it'll make a nice change to play something original.
South Park, that loveable cartoon funtown, has spawned yet another video game, this time in the form of South Park Rally. Nearly all the famous residents of South Park make an appearance in order to win the Rally and take home the fabulous prize, the... first prize.
Well, now that you know the entire plot for South Park Rally, you should know something of the game itself. South Park Rally is a racing game striving to beat out all other racing games in sheer perversity and disgust factor. How is this so, you ask? I’ll tell you.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
This recipe starts with a healthy dose of Bad-Racing-Engine TM. As you race around corners and rocket over jumps, it will become readily apparent exactly how poor the control is in this game. Laws of physics need no longer apply in the South Park world and the first time your car manages to take a 90 degree corner at absurd speeds, you’ll agree. Even though it is pretty bad, the game is still enjoyable in a sick, twisted kind of way.
The interface for the game will make you feel as if you’ve visited South Park in person. Everything from the South Park bus to the animation that looks like butcher paper cutouts is replicated in perfect detail, providing a startlingly accurate portrayal of South Park and its inhabitants.
Once you start playing, you’ll find that driving one of the South Park minicarts isn’t that difficult, with the same style of controls you’d find in a normal go-cart, with the added bonus of an attack feature. You’ve got a massive amount of characters to choose from (only about 10 to start with, but up to 30 later) and a veritable cornucopia of rude and crass weapons to use on one another. I’d normally give you a small preview of the various weapons and items you can collect over the course of the game, but none of them are of suitable nature to list on a website that children might read.
While South Park’s graphics aren’t impressive, per se, they are remarkably accurate to the show. Kenny’s head seems to be just the right size, and Cartman seems rendered perfectly in 3D. Combined with a warped sense of humor in the level and car design, these graphics are definitely something to capture one’s attention.
Once again, although they aren’t very good audio tracks, they are very accurate, down to the noises that Kenny makes when trying to talk. Each character is voiced by the same actor who plays them on the television show and even the weaponry (based on popular gag items from the show) makes frighteningly realistic sound.
Minimum: P200, 32MB RAM, Windows 95/98, 3D Accelerator Card w/ 4MB VRAM, Direct X Compliant Sound Card, 170 MB HD space, 4X CD-ROM Drive
Reviewed On: AMD K6/2 400MHz, 64MB RAM, Diamond Viper V770 Ultra, Creative Labs Soundblaster AWE 64, 24x Creative Labs CD-ROM, and a Microsoft Sidewinder 3D Pro.
South Park Rally has a lot of things going for it: decent graphics, humorous yet annoying gameplay, and an incredibly accurate gameworld. However it also lack a lot of replayability, the gameplay in and of itself can be quite frustrating at points, and the racing physics are horrible beyond compare.
Buy it if you’re a South Park fan, as you’ll get a kick out of seeing Stan drive around in a Ferrari. Otherwise, leave it to occupy shelf space.