I spent today up at Sega’s headquarters in London at a bloggers’ event to check out the new Sega Rally (aka Sega Rally Revo) which is due next month. Free stuff and the opportunity to play a new game is the only thing that will get me up in time to catch the 6:56am train.
However, when the last time that Sega attempted to bring a classic series into the next generation with its original title we got that Sonic abomination, so you could be forgiven for approaching this one with trepidation. Particularly so when Sega Rally had already had its equivalent of Sonic Adventure 2 – the warning that all was not well, if you will – but now that I’ve stretched that metaphor as far as it will go I can safely say that this won’t be another disaster. Far from it, in my opinion.
Since graphics are often the most salient feature in this generation, I’ll touch on those first. Sega Rally looks good, if only verging on great. The framerate could have done with some tweaking (bear in mind that the build wasn’t final and it was running on the PS3) and overall I didn’t feel like it had all the graphical bells and whistles of DiRT, the most obvious comparison to make. Even so, it certainly didn’t look unimpressive and importantly looked like Sega Rally, complete with the vivid primary colours and flamboyant touches that typified the old Sega arcade racers. Speedboats in the trackside water, gliders and helicopters popping up as you pass, etc. Alas no suicidal spectators like in Sega Rally 2, but you can’t have everything.
The USP here is terrain deformation which, as they took great pains to point out to us, is the real thing here. Motorstorm’s wasn’t persistent, apparently, and other games don’t have it modelled in such intricate detail and with such great impact on the gameplay. It was definitely striking to watch cars carving grooves and divots into the track which were still there on the final lap, affecting racing lines and sending vehicles bouncing around as they negotiated turns and in turn affecting the lines taken by the AI, which in this relatively unbalanced build was monstrously hard. We played with the seriously impressive (and equally expensive) Logitech G25 wheel which went a long way towards completing the effect.
Most importantly, though, it still plays like Sega Rally. Despite the effort poured into the realistic track physics, it has no pretensions of being a sim which I find highly appealing. Racing against other cars rather than the clock, arcadey handling that realises that sliding around in the mud is fun and not something to be punished if you can’t do it perfectly, and proper online multiplayer (I’m looking at you, DiRT). Incidentally we were playing network games over the Internet with no discernible lag.
So for me Sega Rally has gone from a game that was barely on the radar – there’s some other 360 game out in late September, remember? – to a very probable purchase. I feel like I need something different in a Q4 that’s overflowing with shooters and a blast from the past like this could be just the thing.
Oh, and I can’t let this go without bringing up the little competition that they put on for us to compete for a huge trophy and a Sega racing jacket. They say a picture speaks a thousand words; this one speaks six. Out of a possible six :D
And they also may or may not have accidentally let slip what everyone knows but Sony won’t confirm: that a Sixaxis with force feedback is on the way. Someone mentioned supporting it in the PS3 version, at least.