There have been many racing games on Xbox so this new sequel really needs something special to stick out in the racing genre which is already getting very overcrowded.
What was an already solid rally game this sequel RalliSport Challenge 2 is refining and tweaking the game to new more fun levels plus not forgetting this is an XSN sports game with Xbox Live Online Mulitplayer you can take the fun to your friends around the world.
Overall presentation of the game has been taken further and this is the story you will find with all the areas of the game. Although very faithful to the original release, RalliSport Challenge 2 takes the experience even further as I will explain in more detail later on in this review.
Not just concentrating on the typical rallying of driving from point A to point B like a lot of rally games you can also take part, like in the original of a mix of modes, making the career mode more interesting to take part in. This is vital as it is here in Career mode that you will have to unlock the more powerful vehicles and unlock tracks to enjoy online. Although online you can play all the courses, you cannot record any times online for your statistics if you have not unlocked it in Career mode. The varying styles of racing do help greatly as racing on your own just against the clock can get repetitive, but with other racing modes like Cross Over, Hill Climb, Rally Cross and Ice Racing. Some of these modes allow up to three computer opponents.
Visually the original had some lovely graphics and the sequel takes this even further. The most impact is the overall detail, it is not just one thing that sticks out at you, for example in the first game it was the lush road detail and quality of the overall landscape. This has been taken much further with the overall detail being ramped up much further then I expected. The roads are just as fantastic looking reflecting the surroundings and light interacting with the bumps. The best about the roads is the mud that is wet, little puddles reflecting the environment as your car churns the road up.
The cars all look photo realistic and certainly not poor imitations, again reflecting the surroundings in a great style and a testament to what our beloved box of tricks can achieve still as we progress ever closer to an Xbox 2 release. I really cannot find much to fault with the graphics at all, the only thing that is noticeable from time to time is the draw distance, the odd occasion you will notice trees appear from nowhere as the draw distance is fairly short, but overall game speed is incredibly smooth and there is so much happening such as buildings, trees, lavish terrain and full 3D spectators you can expect a little cut back somewhere.
Weather effects are a crucial part of a game of this type and all the daytime modes such as morning, mid-day and evening look perfectly lit. The best visually is the rain setting which when set to heavy you can watch the water drop down your screen no matter what view you are using. A great extra is the sort of misty water wave in the air from the rain you get with a heavy downfall and it all equates to a perfect recreation. Driving in the rain is actually fun thanks to the superbly crafted effects.
The car physics are arcade like but with that touch of simulation so you can enjoy some really frantic speeds without going over the top but still use the much needed sliding and hand break turns needed for many of the trickier corners. Damage is very apparent as to my astonishment I took a corner quite horrifically, noticed some windows had cracked and a buckle or two on the body of the car, but the best was watching the bonnet wobble loosely and finally fly off over the roof of the car, truly fantastic gaming moment.
Control is nice and simple although some people did not like the quite powerful vibration when just driving along. This is no different in this game but I must say it seems a lot more toned down and just gives you the sense of feel for the road.
The cars all sound obviously different so quite a bit of time has gone into this and the crunching, speeding, sliding all sound spot on. One disappointment is the music included which is just a type of heavy rock instrumental which to me sound all alike, although you can switch to a custom soundtrack off your hard drive although I prefer to have music switched off.
Like the best rally games on the serious traditional rally game you have your co-driver telling you where the bends are and how serious you need to turn into them. This only happens on this mode and Hill Climb totally gives you no audio help and instead you have to follow a little small map of what is immediately ahead of you. Especially scary in the dark with sheer drops off the edge of a cliff.
I was not sure how this game would work online other then the obvious recording of times, but some attempt has been made and in some modes you can play against a total including yourself of 16 players. Not bad at all but there is a catch. With so many players collisions are switched off leaving only a visible outline of the car which causes quite a distraction. No not a ghost but the outline of the vehicle which looks quite bizarre. I would have liked to have seen an option that allows just the times to show through each checkpoint rather then seeing the outline of the car they are driving all the time, but it is still very good fun if a little off putting. The roads are tight though so having collisions for all 16 would give you some Xbox Live road rage for sure. All is not lost though if this does not appeal as you can have up to 4 people playing together with collisions on.
A sequel that has certainly not disappointed me and comes very close to rally perfection, which add up to the best racing game offline no doubt. You can race to your heart’s desire supping up every bit of passion for rally games you have at your disposal and still come back begging for more.
Rating: 5 / 5