previews\ Jan 25, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Rallisport Challenge 2 - XB - Preview

Merrily we roll along … and  slide … and spin … and …


Combining near photo-realistic courses with lighting that accurately reflects time of day, Microsoft Game Studio’s Rallisport  Challenge 2 is an intense and exciting racing title for the Xbox. But the game is more than just a sloppy Sunday drive through muddy tracks.


This is a title that features terrific graphical elements, and intense driving action – whether you are racing against relentless AI-controlled opponents, or taking advantage of the online Xbox Live connection to find and challenge other real players.


XSN has come on board for this title, which means that players will be able to find competition and leagues to drive in. That also means that driving stats and rankings will be recorded.


Other game features include more than 40 rally cars available, tracks that span the world from Australia to Argentina and Sweden, and the track styles also vary. Players will find mud-mired courses awaiting them, dirt-loose morning snakelike courses, and ice tracks.


Of course, you can modify the vehicles, and they will take damage during the race – though you can, through the options menu, indicate the amount of damage you wish to be reflected on your vehicle.


Rallisport Challenge 2 also features new camera angles as well. You can view the course from the front bumper, the driver’s seat, the windshield, or back off for the third-person trailing mode.


The graphical elements in this game are exceptional. From the soft morning light filtering across a curving course Down Under, to the cloudy and rainy short course in Great Britain, this game manages to really give a sense of the rally course and does an incredible job with dynamic lighting and shading. Swinging around a corner and heading down a section of a course into a rising sun is appropriately filled with glare.


The sound is a combination of musical underscore, revving engine and your co-pilot barking out what course anomalies lay ahead. The latter is pretty standard for this style of game, but these are both solid adjuncts to the graphics. Some titles feature the occasional backfire of the car, but not this title. The engine revs as you step on the gas, and when you back off, there is no stuttering or backfires.


The control elements are set up to give players a fighting chance to leap in and go immediately. The left and right triggers control braking and acceleration, and you steer with the thumbstick. Yes, there hot buttons to shift up and down, you can take a glance back to see where the competition is, and you can also reset your car on the track should you slide too far off course and be unable to return on your own accord.


The car dynamics seem to be very well done. Cars that go through muddy bogs will carry the reminders of that when hitting a brief moment of pavement. Damage seems to have an effect on handling as well. As with most games of this sort, just stomping on the accelerator is tantamount to disaster.


The game features five modes of play: time attack, single race, career, multiplayer on the same machine and Xbox Live. Event types include RallyCross, Ice Racing, Hill Climb and Crossover (you switch lanes with your opponent on every other lap). received a preview build of Rallisport Challenge 2. The release date for the title is not for several more months, but this early look shows a game that will have dynamic racing elements with solid online support. Playing in the mud promises to be a lot of fun thanks to Rallisport Challenge 2.

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