reviews\ Dec 11, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Rally Fusion: Race of Champions - XB - Review

I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of motor sports; in fact, I could only name just a handful of well-known racers.  Yet when I caught sight of an international rally race on Fox Sports International, I couldn’t help but stop and watch these racers and think how fun it must be to tear through rough terrain like that in some really cool cars.  In Rally Fusion: Race of Champions, you get to drive these cars through terrains both exotic and gorgeous, so buckle your seat belt and hang on.


From the main menu, gamers can tell how diverse and plentiful the modes are in this game.  You can start with the Race of Champions Mode that includes three types of races (Class C, Class B and Class A) and another racing competition called Nations Cup (which also includes the same difficulty Class races).  Then there’s Custom Championship where gamers can setup their own championships in the Rally, Rally Cross and Circuit game type for single or multiplayer games.


The ROC Challenge Mode offers ten different challenges that players can participate in and they are all unique and challenging.  There’s Duel Challenge, a game that offers a head-to-head race between two racers in identical cars.  Then there’s Driving Challenge where drivers race against the clock to around an obstacle course.  The most challenging and fun is Elimination Challenge where four drivers race around a circuit arena until the end of each lap when the last placed driver of each lap is eliminated.


There are races like Hill climb that has a single car racing up a treacherous mountain without falling off it to beat a certain time. There’s also a race like Follow The Leader Mode that gives drivers a health bar that depletes when that particular driver is not in the lead.


Leaning more to an arcade-style feel, Rally Fusion’s controls are actually not bad at all.  Depending on the style of the vehicle and the choice of automatic or gearshift, the cars do not handle any differently from terrain to terrain.  You accelerate, break and reverse easily . . . while handling sharp corners is something of a challenge.  The vehicles take various degrees of damage from loosing a door or a fender to damaging a wheel.  The cars do flip over on occasion and, strangely enough, you can’t right yourself again and continue the race. 


The Class C, B and A vehicles are plentiful and are licensed vehicles such as the Toyota Rav 4, the Peugeot 206 or the Audi Quattro S1.   Each car is placed in each of the three categories with Class A being the more powerful performance vehicles.  It’s really a joy when you graduate from the boxy Toyota Corolla to the sleek Peugeot 205 T16.  It’s equally fun taking them through terrains like the hostile Artic level to the dusty flats of the Gran Canaria.


The graphics in Rally Fusion are actually excellent; especially the Alpine Climb and Inca levels with their beautifully detailed landscapes filled with neatly rendered forest backdrops.  The other environments can be a bit on the plain side, but they’re not at all that bad looking--although the Xbox has seen better.  And while the effects are minimal, there is enough to catch your eye such as the falling rain in certain levels or the way the sun glints off the window of a vehicle.  The vehicles themselves are faithfully designed to resemble actual vehicle models and even take realistic damage.  If you crash head-on into a tree, then the front fender falls off.


Unfortunately, the sound doesn’t leave quite an impact in the way the game’s visuals do.  The game’s soundtrack, for instance, is made up of rock tunes that are present only in the menu selection screen.  This leaves the sounds of the vehicles engines or the wheels skidding on dry terrain and your co-pilot (who hardly ever keeps quiet).  Your passenger is quick to point out directions and equally quick to call you an idiot when you make mistakes or crash your vehicle. 


Far from the perfect rally racing title, Rally Fusion does not disappoint those games looking for a racing game with lots to do.  A few blemishes aside, there are just too many fun race modes to participate in and race fans will surely appreciate the unique challenges that are offered.   


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.8
More arcade-styled than a realistic simulation, Rally Fusion plays smoothly and with a simple control scheme, you can concentrate more on the actual driving and steering.  It’s not easy making sharp turns when you’re picking up speed and the occasional jump can spell disaster since there’s the possibility that your vehicle can flip over and never right itself again.  You can change the vehicle’s tires and make it readily accessible to dirt when the race takes you to dusty rough terrain, yet strangely enough it still doesn’t make much of a difference since even in slippery ice conditions the car handles the same.


Gamers earn their trophies for different things such as the Wrecker Trophy that is awarded to those players that completely wrecks a car.  There are also many different modes such as Time Trail, Circuit, Hill Climb or Rally Cross to test your driving skill.


Graphics: 8.2
Visually the game is beautifully done and offers gamers a lot to see and admire--especially the Inca course that comes alive with details.  Even while you’re zooming by at incredible speeds, the courses are designed so that you don’t miss any environmental details such as that rushing stream or the misty mountain peaks.


The vehicles themselves are gorgeously detailed, even more so when you’re watching the instant replay of a race.  Although they are licensed vehicles, they do take damage sufficiently enough to the point that you can finish the race with a car with missing fenders, doors and a hood. 


Sound: 7.5
While it would have been great hearing the engines of the more powerful rumble loudly, the vehicle sounds are reduced to soft purrs and the wheels kicking up dirt.  Collisions are not as powerfully resounding as they should be, although it’s great to hear the grinding shift changes when they are made.  You will, though, hear the sound of people cheering on the drivers and--on occasion--hear the distant rumbling of thunder and the soft patters of rain.


There is hardly any music found while racing or right after it with the exception of the main menu soundtrack that plays basic rock rhythms.  The only other sound that keep you company during the race is your co-pilot who shouts out directions such as “sharp left!”  He’s also not afraid of letting you know how badly you drive and pointing out what a moron you are for smashing the car up like that. 


Difficulty: Medium
Depending on the race Class, you can go up against some really competent amateurs or unmerciful rally pros.  While often difficult to beat the Class A drivers (the pros), it never gets so frustratingly difficult that you will be doing the race all over again for long periods of time.  Still, there are those racers that will give you quite a challenge that you’ll find yourself loosing to them a bit too often.


Concept: 8.0
Of all the things this game has to offer, it’s the various race types that will win big points with gamers.  The game offers up enough racing fun for both single and multiplayer gamers including the World Tour Extreme Mode that gives the drivers points based on how the drivers place on the race. 


Multiplayer: 8.5
Up to four players can be on the screen at once and taking on their friends in different game types and races.  It’s fun when there are many vehicles to choose from and different race types to play through so your friends will certainly have fun playing through them all as a group.  This would have also been great if the game supported the Xbox Live service.


Overall: 8.0
With plenty of modes to choose from and pretty decent controls, Rally Fusion is not exactly the race of champions but it does come slightly close.  There is no doubting the fact that other racing games have been done better than this but there is plenty here to keep racing fans well entertained.  I highly recommend you rent this one before buying it.


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