I picked up this brilliant racing game only a week ago (on the 17th of November 2009) for just $10. Although, Im not sure why I didnt get it earlier really. (I also got the 1st game for $8.)
With 5 racing modes, an amazing array of cars and quite a wad of tracks, youre in for some sensational driving. The graphics, the car handling and amount of events have all been improved over the 1st game. The spectacular crashes are all back as well, with all kinds of car parts ripping off, glass smashing and dents galore. Theres also a new Cross Over mode, where you race against another car on parallel tracks, which join somewhere in the middle.
Graphically, theres a bunch of cool stuff happening. Windscreen wipers run nicely out of sync with different cars, theres glary lens flares, thick dust which doesnt chunk things up, some good draw distances and well detailed cars. Youll also spot shiny roads, rain effects on the screen, mud and leaves flipping up and that excellent long grass that just looked so good in the first RalliSport Challenge. Cars gather up dust and snow, which nicely cuts down on the amount of glow coming out of your rear lights. Plus if youve loosened up your bonnet, expect it to come flipping off as wind lifts it up as you race down hill!
Some negative points are that when youre racing with other cars, the car shadows arent as good. The realistic way they moved in relation to your position with the sun, and even the way you could see your wheels spinning in the shadows (like in the 1st game) doesnt happen. Although shadows from trees and buildings are just as good when youre with other cars. Unlike the 1st game, there are now some amazing real-time looking environmental reflections, although these are limited to only when youre racing by yourself, as is the water splashing your screen as well. It would have been nice if they could have kept the more real reflections and shadows to your car alone, if it was a problem to get opponent cars to do the same. Although Sega seemed to manage it fine with OutRun 2 SP, even on the traffic in some instances. So its not like the XBOX cant handle it. Whether you run it in 50 Hz or 60 Hz, the game is just as smooth whatever your option. Sometimes youll spot the odd bit of tearing in the image, but it usually seems to be before the races start more often than anything.
Occasionally youll notice various trees, witches hats, fences and other objects fading into view, but it is fairly discreet, so its not too obvious.
JackKnife Summit (Canada Hill Climb)
Coeur-De-Reine (Monte Carlo SS9)
As you can see in the screenshots, you get a little gauge under your speed, which shows how much damage youve done to various car parts. Keep an eye on your wheels, because once they turn red on this thing, it wont be long before theyll fall right off! And that makes driving quite awkward. As you rack up the kilometres, you can unlock up to 4 new colour schemes for each car as well. The map at the top of the screen initially seems a little annoying, but after a while, I found that it was a good position to see the quickly approaching turns.
Audio wise, the car sounds are pretty nifty, and each vehicle has a different engine noise. You can hear crowds cheering as you go passed, plus the different road surfaces have pretty realistic effects as well. The music is a bit hit and miss, with some really dreadful songs, but about half of them are okay. Youll also note the tune from the promotional video for the game, if of course youve seen it. (Owners of Project Gotham Racing 2 can find it with the other bonus stuff.) Luckily you can use your own music that youve added to the hard drive.
Replays can now be pretty much saved any old place, and at 4 blocks each, they dont exactly eat up all your space either. So you can also take them with you on a XBOX Memory Unit.
The default controller setup is different to that of the original RalliSport Challenge, but if youve played that too, you can find a configuration thats the same. As with the original, you need to be careful when it comes to cutting corners, as if you deviate too far from the main road, youll automatically be reset back where you should be. This can be quite time wasting if you planned to take a huge short cut, only to find you have to do that section all over again. Sometimes its necessary to manually reset the car too if you get stuck in some tricky spot.
Loading times can be a bit of a yawn, but RalliSport Challenge 2 makes things less tedious by allowing you to
make adjustments to your car and what not, while the loading occurs. Youll also get driving tips and other information about the type of race youre doing.
The 5 racing types are regular rally driving, where you must set the best time on an open ended track by yourself, Rallycross, where you race 3 other cars, Ice Racing, which is the same thing, but on ice, Hill Climb, which is like the regular rally driving, but without the co-driver assistance, and Crossover, the dealie I explained at the start. Each mode will give you a set of cars best suited to the task, and as you progress passed certain events, new cars will become available.
The different modes available are Time Attack, where you can get to grips with the tracks and set new best times, Single Race, where you can race up to 3 other cars on any unlocked track of any racing type and the main mode of course is the Career. Here youll take on challenges not one after the other, like in the 1st game, but in a more networked fashion, where you have the choice of what you want to do next before moving on to a more difficult set of races or an equal level group of events. It kinda looks like a sideways tree layout that usually merges back into itself over to the right hand side. The career game mode is divided into 4 difficulties: Amateur, Pro, Champion and SuperRally which is available later, once youve done the other levels. You aim to get a higher level licence by completing each of the difficulties.
If you have XBOX Live, you can also partcipate with XSN Sports, but only after youve used a computer to sign up at their web site. Unfortunately the XBOX or game doesnt give you such facilities to do it from the console. You can also link up to 16 XBOX consoles for a huge multiplayer experience. But youll also need 16 T.V.s and a big power board too, no doubt. Oh and a big room I would suspect.
Car tuning is a little more detailed this time around, compared with the 1st version of RSC, and you can save the setups as well for next time you want the same settings.
Graphics: Its pretty impressive all round really, and as the game was designed for the XBOX, (although I think theres a Windows version,) it makes good use of the consoles power. Most of the textures are excellent, theres nice special effects and plenty of detail. The road reflections arent as good as the likes of Project Gotham Racing 2, but you do get reflections of various lights. All in all, quite the yummy treat. 97%
Animation: Smooth all round really, with only a tiny bit of tearing now and then. Background animations include moving people, flowing waterfalls, falling snow & rain and slightly swaying trees. 90%
Sound: The car sound effects and surface noises are great, although the music is a bit of a let down. Luckily you get to choose what plays. 80%
Playability: The cars handle wonderfully and the ability to adjust a lot of the vehicles features improves it further. 92%
Lastability: The career mode will last you for weeks, assuming you have time to play it for a couple of hours or so each day, and the multiplayer and XBOX Live modes extend things more so. The fact that its really enjoyable makes it more appealing as well. 96%
Overall: A great racing game you wont want to pass up, whether you like watching real rallies or not. Its well polished in most areas, and if you can get it cheap like I did, its worth every dollar. Definitely recommended. 92%