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Review of Rally Fusion
Rally Fusion joins the ever growing list of racing…and rally specific racing titles to grace the PS2. The good news is that it actually manages to get things pretty close to “right” and where it misses, it throws so damn many racing modes at you that you just might not care.
To start things off players have a choice of a quick race, where a nice number of cars are opened to drive and a good amount of racing modes to choose from (Rally, Rally Cross, Race of Champions, Driving Challenge, etc.). Incredibly, and to the games credit, there are also a ton of racing modes still locked here just waiting to be opened. The modes that are already unlocked would fill most racing titles agenda in its entirety. Unlocking the rest just increases the overall enjoyment and lasting time of the game. It should also be noted that there are additional areas to be unlocked within the modes that are already available. Like I said, the sheer amount of racing modes and courses are quite staggering.
Before actually racing though, players will need to create a profile for themselves. This consists of entering your drivers name, birth date, and country. Eight profiles may be created and stored for other players that want to join in on the action.
Okay, back to the action…besides quick race, the real meat of the game lies in the Race of Champions mode and Nations Cup. Before being allowed to enter though, a license must be obtained. This is accomplished through a series of Qualifiers that will have gamers racing against the clock and against other drivers. Finish the four Qualifiers and it’s off to the races…or perhaps I should say, more choices. Do you want to enter a Class C rally challenge or a circuit challenge? Both are played out on completely different courses in totally different areas of the world.
Starting off as a Class C racer is okay in that it gets players acclimated to the courses, car handling characteristics and general driving idiosyncrasies that the game has to offer, but the real rush comes from the Class A races where drivers step into world class speed demons and race against some of the top Rally racers in the world.
Before entering a race drivers have minimal latitude in car adjustments. The only thing that can be done prior to each race is changing from manual or auto, adjusting the gear ratio and selecting a tire. Pretty lean in my opinion. It would have been nice before each race to get a small snapshot of the course so I could determine where I wanted to set my gear ratios to (if there are lots of sharp turns, I like to set it low for better acceleration in lieu of top speed), but alas there wasn’t one.
The car handling and physics lean bit more towards arcadey, than real life but the balance is pretty good. Control is tight and accurate, but getting familiar with using the handbrake and counter-steering thru turns is essential. The other key to consistently winning races is to master the manual shift as opposed to automatic. I was consistently able to shave seconds off of my time in the manual mode, and also ended up with less damage and repair work to my car. Another nice feature is the support for the LogiTech steering wheel. This truly added a whole new dimension to the game and made every race feel that much more realistic and exciting. This was especially true when compared to the vibration from the controller…or I should say lack there of. For whatever reason, the rumble feature was almost non-existent in many of the races. Traveling over the rough terrain should have had the controller buzzing about in my hands, but it remained consistently tame.
Finally, we have the tracks and all of those wonderful racing modes to participate in. The track designs are above average across the board. Each and every track requires slightly different driving disciplines and some will really put your skills to the test. I really liked the head to head track in the ROC mode. It reminded me of slot car racing with the way it was designed…very nice. There are dirt tracks, sand tracks, mud tracks, snow track, steep hill climbing tracks, indoor tracks…virtually every kind of road you can imagine has been covered here…and covered well. To further top things off, the races take place all over the world so the tracks will represent the locale and climate for the region you are racing in.
The game modes appear to be nearly endless. Besides the core ROC, Rally and Cup races there are Duel, Circuit, Driving, Rally, Rally Cross, Hill Climb, Elimination and Follow the Leader challenge races, which round out these modes. Under Quick race there is also time trial and Extreme Hill Climbing modes in additional to many of the races listed above for the ROC races. Additionally, all of th4se races can be run in Class C, B and A. Needless to say, there won’t be a shortage of modes and tracks to race on.
Visually Rally Fusion has its hits and just a few misses. First up are the car models…they are nicely designed and detailed and feature damage that consists of doors and hatchbacks flying off. Hoods popping up and tearing away, windows spidering and tires flattening or coming clean off the frame. All of this is depicted quite realistically and affect the cars performance, but like I said, the models are just nice…not exceptional. The one thing that really sticks out are the size of the vehicles…to me they seemed to be rather small. Not tiny, just smaller than other car models I am used to seeing in a racing game of this type. At least after completing a race going through the dirt and mud, my car limps across the finish line looking like it has just been through hell with wobbly fenders and mud spots thrown all over the car.
The backgrounds are varied and detailed with nice texturing and no jaggies. Even though anti-aliasing is obviously being used, the display is still nice and crisp and not at all blurry. There is also a lot of activity that can be occurring on the courses as drivers race through. Camera men can be seen in the middle of the road trying to take that perfect shot (I repeatedly tried to hit them, but the little buggers always managed to jump out of the way just in a nick of time), cones and road markers/sign can be hit and strewn about the course, etc.
What really shines though in Rally Fusion is the special effects. The PS2 is a monster when it comes to pumping out particle effects and this game puts those features to good use. Dust clouds, rain effects, mud, firework displays all come together to really show off what the PS2 is capable of displaying. One of the sweetest effects comes when you are racing through the desert courses. The entire screen blurs and ripples from the excessive heat…it looked really cool…er, hot. The only strange thing that I noticed was when traveling through water, the cars don’t kick up any spray whatsoever. That was kind of weird and disappointing…the water was just a flat placeholder.
The sound effects are on the money for the most part. There are nice combustion pops from the exhaust, sweet sounding crashes and crunches and that neat crumbly sound the tires always made when traveling over the dirt. The co-pilot/navigator is on the money with his cues and often had some humorous remarks when your car goes off the track or crashes. The only problem was that he was very hard to hear, with his voice always just barely above the sound of the car engine. There is an area in the menu where this can be adjusted, but even turned all the way up, it didn’t really help much. The music is a nice blend of rock tunes that fits in with the overall action and was satisfying enough to leave turned on.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Rally Fusion' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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