Rallisport Challenge 2 Updated Impressions

Microsoft gives us a quick run-through of the next installment of the racing franchise at Game Developers Conference 2004.

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Rallisport Challenge 2 is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Microsoft and developer DICE's excellent Rallisport Challenge. The original game was a successful entry into the rally genre thanks to European developer DICE's attention to detail and its careful balance of realism and accessible gameplay. For the sequel, MS and DICE are aiming to make an even better game.

While we've seen Rallisport Challenge 2 running before, it was interesting to see the number of enhancements over the original game. The graphics have been improved to better highlight the rich environments and impressive car models included in the game. The biggest addition to the whole package, however, is the Xbox Live support, which lets you play a number of game modes online. And interestingly, there will be a special skin used to denote the top racer in the various multiplayer modes that helps you target the best driver around.

The graphics in the game are looking sharp and manage to convey an excellent sense of speed. The cars themselves were carefully done to ensure that they stand out as the stars of the show. However, the environments also feature some slick enhancements in terms of light blooming, particle effects, and crisp texture detail. And the game's frame rate seems to stay nice and steady, even when you're smashing your car into a tree or enacting some other kind of on-the-road catastrophe.

So far, Rallisport Challenge 2 looks sharp and plays well--two of the most obvious important features for a racing game. The addition of online play should extend the game's life well after you've mastered the various difficulties. All told, the game has the right elements for a really impressive rally racer--even just with its offline modes. Anyone looking for an excellent rally game should keep an eye out for Rallisport Challenge when it ships this May for the Xbox. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.

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