Not many PC translations of arcade games score high marks in realism, and Sega Rally Championship is no exception: Engines and chassis are impervious to damage, and it's impossible to have a wreck. This isn't a problem, because the game doesn't make any high-flutin' claims of authenticity or realism. But Sega Rally only offers the player two cars to drive, has a clumsy interface, and lacks features common to even the least ambitious PC driving games.
The manual says there are four cars to drive - but that number is derived by multiplying the types of cars (two) by the number of transmissions (two). There are also two "bonus" cars, but they're only available if you win the Rally Championship - this one little "extra" reveals the game's arcade roots. It might be a nice idea to reward excellent driving with bonus cars, but not if it means that a lot of gamers will get sick and tired of the same "non-bonus" cars long before they get that reward.
SRC runs in 8- or 16-bit color at either 320 x 240 or 640 x 480, and it delivers generally decent visuals, except for occasional warping and bending of the road and peripheral terrain. Even at the highest resolution and color depth, though, expect to see some pretty blocky objects, particularly the spectators - all these folks are from Pixelville, USA.
Think that multiple camera angels are standard fare in driving games? Think again - SRC has only two (the Instant Replay uses a third TV-style perspective not available during the actual race). There's no option to turn off music during races; no support for joystick throttles; no way to exit a Replay or access game options such as difficulty levels and car setup except by restarting the game; and no way to use a custom-tuned car in the Arcade mode.
The input problems are especially annoying because the game uses DirectX drivers - you should be able to map any game function to whatever joystick control you like. But the most frustrating - and senseless - feature of all is that the game always defaults to 640 x 480, meaning that those of us who crave frame rate over pretty graphics have to change the resolution every time we launch the game.
Why all the oversights? It seems Sega wanted to slap this baby onto a PC CD-ROM and get it out the door without "wasting" time and money - ie, if it plays on a PC, then it plays well enough. That's a real shame, because the actual racing action is pretty hot: You've got to master techniques such as power slides and drafting if you hope to finish well, even on the easiest difficulty level. And racing against another opponent via modem or over a network can be pretty rocking.
But even if SRC had none of the control and interface problems, at the end of the day it would still have only four cars - and that's just not enough unless you're talking about filling up a couple of garages in the suburbs.