Iím not a big racing fan, in fact, I think most racing games like Project Gotham, NASCAR, and Sega GT are boring. I usually avoid all racing games at all costs, but there are a few racing games that I do enjoy quite a bit, namely the unrealistic ones, such as Burnout, Quantum Redshift, and RalliSport Challenge. Now you may be asking yourself why RalliSport is in there, because it seemingly doesnít fit, and the simple explanation is that itís fun.
The first RalliSport Challenge was my first rally racing game when I got it three years ago, and it was a very big surprise to me. I had never even heard of rally racing before playing this game, and the only reason I gave it a shot was because I found Project Gotham Racing to be very boring. When I started playing RalliSport, I was amazed that rally racing was real, due to the extreme nature of the racing, and the variation that it held, compared to lap tracks and street racing. RalliSport Challenge 2 continues RalliSport Challengeís fun, and realistic, albeit somewhat exaggerated view of rally racing.
For those who have never played a rally racing game and donít want a more sim oriented game like Colin McRae, RalliSport Challenge 2 is a great place to start. Rally racingís main difference from other racing is that it is a lot more extreme and the racing conditions are more real-life and a lot more harsh. Rally racing takes place on all sorts of landscapes, from dirt tracks in the desert, to icy, snow covered levels, to races through a forest. In Single Races, it will be just like any other racing game, in which you race against opponents, but in Time Attack mode you will just be racing against the clock, with no other cars on the track. Another thing that makes rally racing unique is that you have a navigator, who tells you how the road is going to change ahead, which is important because of the rough terrain. Rally racing has a lot more variety than other racing games which just involve racing in a circle on a track or along a boring, closed off street. I find it much more interesting and entertaining to be able to race in a multitude of locales, with varying conditions that affect your driving in different ways. Another thing that sets this game apart from others is the arcade-style feel that it possesses. When you crash into something, it does not totally massacre your car, like it would in a sim game. The physics seem to be a bit toned down, as itís not very easy to spin out or lose control, which is something done probably to appeal to the masses.
RalliSport Challenge 2 has you competing in tiers, which you complete to gain points, which you use to advance in the game, and compete in more difficult races. There are usually four main races in the tiers, in which you must complete the course as quickly as you can as youíre against the clock, not opponents, and in addition to that, you race in a closed track and you must race to complete laps faster than your opponents. RSC2 contains different modes, like the Rally Cross mode which is just the basic racing. Ice Racing and Hill Climb are just as they sound, and they also return from the first game. Crossover Duel is a new mode which is similar to the Rally Cross mode, however, each player must switch lanes with their opponentís car after every other lap. All of these modes are very well done, and continue to add variety to this already superb game.
Iíll just get this out of the way now; these graphics are amazing! RalliSport Challenge 2ís graphics border on photo realism, and they look magnificent. The level design is incredibly well done, and everything is very detailed and makes the game look better than ever. Something that seems to have been subtly added in is the realtime car model damage, which is fabulous. The
real-time damage looks incredibly realistic, and it adds an incredible amount of realism and believability to the game. The courses are not just tracks, everything has vibrant detail on a large scale from the immense number of blades of grass, to water, to trees, to spectators. The draw distance is superb and the detail of the courses only aids in this. There is quite a bit of bump mapping used as well, which makes the dirt part of the track look a lot more realistic.
Probably one of the most drastic and welcome changes I feel is that of the cars themselves. Not only do the cars look a lot more detailed and realistic. Now, whatís a game without being able to mess up all those nice foreign cars, a bad one Iíd say, and DICE agrees with me. RalliSport Challenge 2 has some of the best real time damage Iíve ever seen in a game, and Iíve played Burnout 2 excessively. The car damage is realtime and it reflects where the car is damaged. The car can get dusty, the windshields can break, the car can get dented and scratched, and it all looks very realistic. The damage looks so nice, that youíll almost want to crash to see how superb the damage looks. The fact that itís realtime also helps, because when you crash, you get a dent, and it just improves the gameís believability quite a bit.
Audio in racing games is always a hard thing to judge, since itís mostly just the carís noises and the soundtrack. The crashes and crunches in RSC2 sound very realistic, and as does the carís acceleration. RalliSport Challenge 2 also contains the voice of your co-driver who tells you what the road is going to be like ahead, and he does a very good job of it as well, despite being completely monotone all the time. The soundtrack of the game is your run of the mill assortment of songs, but with custom soundtracks, I barely bothered to listen to them.
Like the first RalliSport game, the controls are spot on in this game. RSC2 isnít very hard to control, then again, no good racing game is. This game works well in both manual and standard, and itís very easy to pick up and play. The control layout is as follows:
Left thumbstick Ė Steer
Right thumbstick - Nothing
Left trigger Ė Brake (Hold to reverse)
Right trigger Ė Accelerate
A button Ė Emergency Brake
B button Ė Gear shift up
X button Ė Gear shift down
Y button Ė Rear view mirror
White button Ė Reset car on track
Black button Ė Switch camera view
Easily the biggest change in RalliSport Challenge 2 is the addition of Xbox Live play and XSN support. These things alone only further extend the replay value of this already tremendous game. RSC2 boasts 90 tracks, although there are not 90 unique ones, as some are the same track, with some minor differences, but itís a vast improvement over RSC1ís 48 tracks. There is a longer and deeper career mode, combined with an entire new mode, and the gameplay just plays a lot better, so itíll be a lot more fun to replay.
RalliSport Challenge 2 is easily one of Xboxís best racing titles. DICE has done a wondrous job with this amazing sequel. The racing part is a lot more fun to play, and the game looks much better and more detailed than its predecessor did. RSC2 plays as well as it looks too, and I feel that the gameplay has become a lot more fun as well. RSC2 also contains some amazing real time damage, and excellent car models. With Xbox Live play and XSN support as well, any racing fan should do themselves a favor a pick this one up.
Gameplay - 9.3
Graphics - 9.5
Audio - 8.8
Controls - 9.1
Replay - 9.6
Overall - 9.2