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Sega Rally Revo


Here's mud in your eye
Back in the heyday of gaming arcades ruled and one of the biggest genres happened to be racing. There was hardly a better way to spend a couple of hours and hard-earned (er, allowanced) quarters than sitting down in a machine and hitting the track for a few laps. SEGA understood that racing was something that captured gamers in the arcade and they capitalized on that with some nice franchises. One in particular, Rally, seemed to slip under the radar but it's back with a new sequel for next generation consoles and it's worth taking for a spin.

SEGA Rally Revo comes to the PlayStation 3 at a point in time when the console is starting to gain some notoriety in the racing genre. Games like Motorstorm and the upcoming Gran Turismo and Need for Speed all stand in front as the console's rides of choice. Arcade purists and rally enthusiasts will want to give Sega's latest effort some attention though. There is enough classic gameplay here to warrant a serious look and though it's light on options, it's an experience that remains fun throughout.

Gameplay


One thing you should know about SEGA Rally Revo going in is that there aren't a whole lot of customization options. You can't find tune your ride down to the most minute of details and for the most part the only thing you'll be able to do are hop into different cars and change tires depending on what track you're going to be racing on. This isnít a simulation game and as I stated before, it doesn't have to be. Arcade gameplay is the root of this series and Revo has it in spades.

The racing is fast and furious but if you're accustomed to other titles in the genre you'll probably find a steep learning curve associated with Rally Revo. In most every racing game you tackle turns by slowing down and carefully guiding yourself around the bend; that's not necessarily the case here. Instead you're going to want to hit a turn as fast as possible and slide through. Hopefully you'll come out on the other side.

This mechanic feels foreign at first and it is certainly going to take you a long time to get the hang of everything. Expect to do a lot of crashing and losing early on. It's safe to say that if you're easily frustrated in games then you'll probably want to pass this one over thanks to the difficulty of learning. However, if you look for a rewarding challenge and revel in mastering things that others have a hard time with then you'll appreciate the system. Then again if you're used to games that force you to powerslide through turns you'll grow accustomed to the slipper mechanics just fine.

Being a PlayStation 3 owner I'm sure that you have probably tackled Motorstorm by now; especially if you love racing games. If that's the case then Rally Revo's GeoDeformation system may lose some of its impact on you. As the cars go around the track they impact the world around them. Most notably the racers each leave markings in the ground denoting where they've been. These tread marks greatly impact the way your car controls and it's certainly a thrill to look at. The workings of it are roughly similar to Motorstorm (or Dirt) though the effects of it feel somehow more pronounced with SEGA's effort. It doesn't make Rally Revo any less original but it certainly does diminishing some of its driving features.

Unfortunately, also like Motorstorm, Rally Revo doesn't offer a lot in terms of tracks to experience. In all there are five courses and those only offer a few environments to go through with some of them even being the same track in reverse. This makes it so you have to memorize each course in order to be truly successful and it adds some repetition to the game. On top of that the single player experience isn't the most robust and even though there are roughly 30 or so rides to choose from we've seen more. I suppose this game's arcade-like design turns out to be as much of a good thing as it is a bad. Arcades died out and gamers at home look for more involvement and length with their playing sessions now; it's too bad Rally Revo couldn't overcome that.

With only a few modes to select in single player and a limited amount of races in between you're undoubtedly going to look for the online function to fill in the rest of your racing time. The PlayStation 3 offers some straightforward events with six players behind the wheel. I must say that I found this portion of the game to be more rewarding from a gameplay standpoint because the AI racers found in the single player matches tend to operate a little too mechanically (if that makes sense).

All in all SEGA Rally Revo is a decent racing game that offers a true arcade experience. Unfortunately with the scope of gaming changing such as it is the arcade atmosphere has gone the way of the dodo. The culture is changing and it's time some of the older franchises adapt. Revo isn't a bad game by any stretch but the straightforward presentation and lackluster options make for an experience that many gamers will be able to easily pass over. If you're looking for a fun racer to kill some time with then Revo isn't a bad alternative but it's certainly no system seller.

Graphics


We certainly have come a long way since the days of Rad Racer back on the NES haven't we? SEGA Rally Revo pushes the envelope for racing games and while the look isn't revo-lutionary (sorry, I had to) it certainly stands as a visual achievement. Car models look brilliant with some fine detail and environmental effects layered on top. It's not uncommon to see a car encrusted with dried mud one second and wet the next thanks to running through a puddle. It's the subtle things that really give this title some graphical weight and I'm pleased to say that there was a lot of attention to detail in many respects.

The tracks all look brilliant with some lifelike design strewn here and there. In particular the sky looks amazing and at moments you'll want to stop and marvel at the photorealistic nature of it all. Some of the GeoDeformation effects aren't quite up to snuff and in between there are invisible walls so the illusion only goes so far. Add to that the fact that car models don't take any damage and you have an experience that is downright gorgeous at times but quickly reminds you that you're playing a game. Some framerate issues also plague the PlayStation 3 version so don't be surprised when the action slows down or becomes choppy. The 720p output is more than adequate to get the details across but the lack of full 1080p is disappointing.

Sound


Unfortunately while the graphics will make you want to pause the action at times the sound may generate a desire to hit the mute button. The voice acting is absolutely terrible and feels out of place most of the time. This was probably a byproduct of the arcade atmosphere infused into the game but it doesn't work here. The same can be said for the sound effects and soundtrack which are also lackluster to say the least. I must also point out that, while I understand this is a racing game, the engine noise engulfs everything. It's very distracting and actually got annoying very quickly.

Conclusion


At the end of the day SEGA Rally Revo just doesn't hold a candle to the big boys. It's not going to take down Motorstorm, Dirt, Project Gotham, Need for Speed, or Gran Turismo; though I suppose it doesnít have to. What Rally Revo does well is create an arcade experience that rivals what you'd expect if you walked into a sweaty pit with quarters in hand. It's a visceral racing title that takes the genre back to its roots but it in no way pushes the envelope. If you're looking for a pick up and play racer or simply are a fan of the series I'd recommend it for a rental.