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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Sega Rally Revo (Playstation 3)

Taking the classic racing franchise onto the Playstation 3, Sega Rally Revo stays true to its arcade roots with fast-paced twitch action. The gameplay requires plenty of driving skill with quick reflexes needed to traverse the game's winding courses and challenging surfaces. One of the game's coolest features is the deformable terrain, where the tracks left by other cars affect the road surface, which makes things more realistic and unpredictable. There are more than 30 vehicles and dozens of tracks that offer both single and multiplayer races to keep the challenge level high. Look inside and discover why Sega Rally Revo's streamlined approach makes for an instantly appealing yet consistently challenging title.

Players who remember the classic Sega Rally games from their arcade, Saturn or Dreamcast iterations will be happy to know that the team at SRS has done a superb job of bringing the titles' classic controls, arcade speed and silky smooth gameplay up to date in fine form on the PS3. The games are simple arcade-racers at heart, and despite some cool new deformation technology, this new version hasn't lost sight of that fact. The game's multiple modes of play are straightforward and don't really change the basic feel of the game. As you'd expect, Sega Rally Revo allows you to play through several different levels of top-notch racing in either championship or single player modes. You can choose from three different types of vehicles before each race including standard, customized and classic classes of vehicle. Each vehicle can be further customized with different paint jobs that you can unlock by playing and winning in the championship modes. There are several different tracks in the game, each of which has several courses that can be played as well. Sega Rally Revo's options let you select from either standard or off-road transmissions, which goes a long way in determining whether or not you win the race. Once you've completed your selections, you're then ready to race and get ready, because the experience is faster and more frenetic than most current racing games on the market.

When you get onto the course, the first thing you want to do is get a feel for the controls. Like the previous games, the controls in Sega Rally Revo are quite simple and highly responsive, allowing you to perform wild power-slides and corners without much effort. Players can steer using either the standard or analog controller, both of which offer excellent performance. The gameplay is incredibly fast, and each course unfolds before you at a breakneck speed that requires you to use split-second reflexes. Each course features a variety of turns and corners along with jumps, muddy sections and sudden turns that you have to master. Most of the courses offer a balance between standard tarmac sections and off-road areas consisting of mud, dirt, snow and ice along with puddles and other natural obstacles. As you might expect, the courses in Sega Rally Revo feature plenty of twists and other sections which helps to keep the racing interesting. While the game is incredibly challenging in the number of courses and variety it throws at you, it's also accessible, since its arcade-style physics are quite forgiving. One of the more interesting features of the game is the cool GeoDeformation feature, where cars leave indents on the course as they pass over them, which is quite an impressive feature in the physics department. This means that the tracks are never quite the same on subsequent laps, and as the races go on, things can get really messy in spots. It definitely adds to the challenge of each race, and really enhances the game's sense of hyper-realism.

Sega Rally Revo's environments are impressive, and the mud and dirt that splash onto your vehicle looks really cool as well. However, there aren't collisions in the game that cause damage. Since there isn't a damage model, you can crash repeatedly and not suffer performance losses, though you will lose significant clock time. Completing each course in the championship modes allows you to move through the ranks and unlock additional courses, tracks, cars and paintjobs. While you can adjust some of the minor elements of your car in the garage mode, Sega Rally Revo doesn't really offer the amount of depth you'd expect in these types of games. While each vehicle is officially licensed from its real-world manufacturer, which adds to its authenticity, you won't have to worry about selecting from competing brands of spark plugs. Speaking of vehicle selection, Sega Rally Revo offers an exceptional array of rally cars from the likes of Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Each of these high-perfomance vehicles offers a slightly different balance between speed and they handle differently on the track. For nostalgic gamers, there are a number of classic vehicles, some of which are quite cool. For example, the Lancia Delta from 1976, which was the flagship vehicle in Sega Rally 2 makes a return appearance here and while its controls feel a little bit floaty, it's definitely cool to play it again in this updated installment. There are more than 30 vehicles included in all, with about half of them unlockable through playing the game.

Sega Rally Revo's impressive visuals take good advantage of the PS3 with highly detailed car models that look quite impressive and accurate. The game's stages include seven main areas such as Canyon, Alpine, Tropical, Arctic and other motifs. Each stage features impressively designed stages with elaborate track-side objects, and several different types of road surface, such as tarmac, mud and dirt. These elements are rendered realistically and make the experience very immersive overall, especially in the game's first-person modes which are impressive. This is especially true when you see and feel the game's incredibly fast action and speedy races unfold at a smooth and consistent frame rate, which shows off SRR's graphics engine effectively. Players can switch viewpoints at the press of a button and go from the usual behind the-car view to the first-person perspective. All of these views are quite effective and allow the player to concentrate on the driving action without worrying about obtrusive items. During each race, the game's co-driver issues commands, and in a nice touch, these warnings seem to have been sampled from the original arcade game, as has the cult favorite 'Game Over, Yeah!' song that made the original games so charming. The game's music and soundtrack is decent with a decent mix of hard rock that fits the action nicely. If you aren't into the music or sound commands, you can also turn them off if you want at the options screen. Sega Rally Revo's production values aren't as sophisticated as some of the simulation racers on the market, but its many moments of arcade-style ferocity that makes up for this lack of realism.

While this approach may not appeal to gamers used to simulation racers like Gran Turismo and Project Gotham, the developers deserve credit for creating an almost purely arcade style experience. Instead of spending time on extraneous features, Sega Rally Revo instead focuses like a laser on delivering an intense and challenging racing experience. The game's intense racing, responsive controls and visceral thrill make for one of the more enjoyable driving games for the current systems. It would be easy to criticize what isn't included in Sega Rally Revo, but what is there is a superb, challenging racer that likes up to the reputation build by AM2's driving games from Sega's golden age. Those that remember those games are likely to be thrilled by the game's pedal-to-the-metal design, which makes for an easily accessible game with highly tuned play mechanics that make for an exciting and entertaining arcade-racing experience.

- Michael Palisano


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