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features /  game column
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sega rally
games: sega rally
This week, a racing classic remade.

The original Sega Rally, which arrived in the form of a series of ostentatious arcade cabinets back in 1995, was one of the most entertaining and influential racing games of all time. The mixture of multiplayer head-to-head racing and bombastic presentation meant that this early rally game captivated gamers who wanted the excitement of rallying without the challenge of realism. Racing two classic rally cars against each other saw many piggybanks smashed, and the effect was similar when the game arrived on home gaming systems.

It's no surprise then that Sega should choose to regularly revisit the scene of their success. This latest reworking, however, seems to have lost some of the vital spark that made the original so essential. Perhaps it's the influence of such a huge number of rally games in the intervening years, but the new Sega Rally has lost its edge. It's still very much an arcade game, rather than a simulation (with cars racing side-by-side on unlikely circuit tracks) but the audacity of it seems to have been dulled. The bombast has been diminished.

The 2007 Sega Rally is a competent game in its own right, admittedly. It's extremely well turned out, and instantly comprehensible. It sits at the kind of perfect difficulty level, which means anyone with the slightest acquaintance with a gamepad can sit down to play, without frustration. Getting good, of course, means that you need to practice over and over. Just like the original, it's simple to start with, but tricky to master. Ultimately, though, this rally game has lost its crown. That is now held by the games that carry the late Colin McRae's name, particularly his latest, DiRT, in which Codemasters reported he invested considerable time.

Sega, meanwhile, probably need to learn to reach a little higher. This isn't an area in which “good enough” will still do.

Jim Rossignol 27 September 07
Sega Rally, out now on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
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