LOS ANGELES--Sega Rally First Look
Over the years, the Sega Rally series has created the arcade rally racing genre virtually single-handedly, and the series has a loyal and passionate fan base as a result. Fans love the approachable controls, challenging difficulty, and excellent sense of speed the series has come to be known for. The only problem is that it's been a long time since a Sega Rally game came out in the States--specifically Sega Rally Championship 2 for the Dreamcast, which was released back in 1999. That long drought is about to end with the upcoming release of Sega Rally Revo, a sneak peek of which we checked out straight from the Sega booth at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.
During the guided demo, we watched as the producer controlled a gorgeous-looking, electric-blue Subaru WRX rally car. Instead of tackling the demo course, the producer started out simply driving around in circles a few times to demonstrate the interactive ground surfaces that will be possible through the computational power of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. After a few laps, the grooves in the road turned into massive ruts, which the producer told us would play a major part in Sega Rally's gameplay. Because Sega Rally tracks are looped circuits, as cars complete laps on the course, these grooves and ruts will be dug into the earth. By the end of the race, a fairly clear picture of the ideal racing line will be illustrated by these grooves, and you will be able to use these ruts to gain extra grip.
With the Sega Rally series being essentially a pick-up-and-play arcade racing game, the producer said the game will focus less on repairing and tweaking your car and more on simply driving fast at all times. That said, there will be different car setups to choose from: tarmac, gravel, and mud. Each will have their own strengths and weaknesses on different surface types; the low ride height and slick tires of the tarmac setup will be ideal for paved roads but not so good on dusty or muddy trails, while the beefy, grooved tires; loose suspension; and high ride height of the mud setup will be great on the bumps, but weak on tarmac. Obviously the dusty setup will be the middle road, relatively strong on both surfaces. As the producer told us, no course in the game will be completely comprised of one surface; instead all will be a mix of tarmac, mud, gravel, and even snow and ice, and you'll need to choose the ideal setup that will suit not only the track conditions but also your driving style.
Graphically, Sega Rally is coming along quite well. The car models were bright, solid, and impressively animated--the individual suspension movement of each wheel as the car made its way over the deep grooves in the mud was particularly cool. We also liked the particle effects--thick chunks of mud spit up by the tires, along with huge clouds of dust. The course itself was a dusty, muddy roadway that snaked through rocky canyons, sped past some seaside huts, and curved around a placid lakeside retreat (which showed off the game's impressive water effects). As a special bonus, the producer stopped the presentation and moved the camera over the lake and to a dock, where a lone figure sat on the dock--the Sega mascot Sonic.
With multiplayer support for up to eight players online and loads of real-life rally cars from the likes of Subaru and Peugeot, Sega Rally looks to be well on its way to bringing its arcade rally racing series into the next generation. The game is due for release in early 2007 on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, and we'll be bringing you much more on the game in the coming months.