Rally Cross 2
It may have received the preferential treatment around here, but for some of you out there Rally Cross wasn’t quite right. Sony’s 989 Studios took careful note of the criticisms levelled at its jolly offroader and set about making the necessary adjustments to fix the game up for the sequel. We are happy to report that any apprehension about the original character of Rally Cross being lost a la Twisted Metal 3 in an attempt to please everyone has been unfounded.
Most criticisms were centred around the fact that people didn’t enjoy being thrown onto their roof so often (though we say learn to drive better) and 989 has addressed those problems without a radical reshaping of the rest of the game.
Tracks are generally wider, so you don’t collide with the curved edges so much and tip over. Also, the novel method of getting the cars back on their wheels by rocking side-to-side has been simplified to be less frustrating. One tap of the button should get you right side up following a tumble, whereas in the first Rally Cross you could be stranded like a beetle on its back trying to work up the necessary momentum while the computer opponents purred past.
The physics governing the cars still have that slow motion bouncy feel to them though, so if you didn’t care for the moon buggy effect of Rally Cross you’d better stay away from the sequel, too.
However, it’s that bounding handling which makes this game so enjoyable to drive!With the uneven, lumpy tracks and that crazy suspension, it’s a challenge even to maintain a straight line.Whether you’re stuck in last place or way out in front, the race doesn’t get boring because your hands are full just trying to keep from horribly wiping out. A game that’s fun even when you’re losing?
To help you deal with the differing terrain and weather, there’s the chance to mess with the setup between the races of a season. It’s all simplified with big chunky sliders for each item so you’re not frightened to go in and have a tinker, and you’ll soon find yourself making quick instinctive changes for each coming race. Tyre choice is the most important (all purpose, offroad, snow, slicks) in order to stay with the pack on each course, but no matter what you’ve got on the wheels you will have to learn to pull off dirty great powerslides – sometimes using the emergency brake – to smoothly curl round those hairpin bends. Besides, giant skids through the mud and water look particularly cool in the full length replays.
What you are getting is a refined and tuned version of the original Rally Cross. Handling and feel is very much the same, but anything unwanted has been removed and anything imperfect has been corrected. Only problem is, the graphics aren’t going to make your heart skip a beat, or even raise your pulse. They’re a bit old and unremarkable, and where new trends like environment mapping have been tried it hasn’t worked. The reflections on the cars are made of rather obvious big square blocks that wouldn’t fool a child, though the way mud collects on the body work is quite nice even if it can’t be washed off in puddles like you can do in Max Power Racing. Overall, the appearance could have used a makeover to bring Rally Cross 2 right up to date.
With car handling you can sink your teeth into, quirky tracks on many surfaces and varied vehicles from sports cars to RVs, this represents a good buy for enthusiasts. Just don’t expect it to win any beauty contests.