I hate racing sim games. I can’t stand Gran Turismo, and I’m not a fan of Forza. There’s one major element in a racing game that I look for before anything else, and unfortunately it is absolutely lacking in the simulation racing genre: FUN. Arcade racing games have that one crucial element in spades, with games like blur, Burnout, Need for Speed, and the classic SEGA Rally series. Since I’m not one to let a good segue go to waste, let’s talk about SEGA Rally Online Arcade, the most recent entry in the SEGA Rally line of arcade racers.
To be honest, there’s not a great deal of depth to SEGA Rally Online Arcade (which can be looked at as either a good thing or a bad thing; or both). There are a handful of single player modes (Championship, Quick Race, Time Attack, Classic), a head-to-head local split-screen mode, and an online Quick Race mode. The gameplay is based on SEGA’s 2008 arcade release SEGA Rally 3, with the vehicles pulled from SEGA’s 2007 arcade release SEGA Rally Revo. The game contains 13 cars total (some real, some fictional), with 8 unlocked to start with. Best of all, as you can probably tell from the title, this is an arcade racer, not a sim racer. That means it’ll actually be FUN!
If you’re coming into this game expecting a long Championship mode, you will be disappointed. Championship mode consists of four races. You have three races (2 laps each) to get into first place, after which you do a final head-to-head race. You start off in 22nd place (out of 22 racers), and through the three different tracks work your way forward to first place. You won’t get there in your first race, but whatever position you finish in for the first race becomes your starting position for the second race. Similarly, whatever position you finish in for the second race becomes your starting position for the third race. As long as you finish the third race in first place, you move on to the final bonus head-to-head race. Once you finish the two lap head-to-head, Championship mode is complete. The only replay value is in racing with different vehicles and working towards achievements and unlocks.
The Quick Race mode is exactly what you would expect. You choose your vehicle, your track, your transmission, and you begin racing against 5 AI controlled racers in three lap races. Time Attack is similar, with leaderboards for best times. Classic mode actually puts you in a head-to-head race using one of two vehicles from SEGA’s 1995 arcade release SEGA Rally Championship on tracks from SEGA Rally Championship. Being able to go back and play in what many consider a landmark arcade racer is a great addition to SEGA Rally Online Arcade, and an appreciated nod to fans of the series and the genre. Local split-screen mode is head-to-head between you and one other player only. There’s not much more to it than that, unfortunately, and that is the only local multiplayer option available in the game. Online Quick Race is the same as the single player quick race, but…you know…online. You can choose from different existing race lobbies, then jump in and start racing when the next run begins. AI controlled opponents fill out the roster, if you don’t have 5 human controlled opponents.
The game looks good, sounds good, and plays very well. The controls are well designed for both automatic and manual driving, and are very responsive. One fantastic feature in the game is the upcoming turn announcer. When you’re approaching a curve or turn of any type, an announcer shows you an arrow (varying sizes/shapes/colors depending on severity and type of turn) and tells you what kind of turn it’s going to be…most of the time. Generally, you’ll hear something like, “Easy right,” “Hairpin left,” “Medium right,” or any other of a handful of sayings, letting you know what kind of turn you have coming up so you can prepare yourself to manage it efficiently. Every now and then, though, he’ll throw in a “…Maybe.” after calling the turn. That means that it’s going to be anything but the turn he called, so you can generally prepare for something tougher. It throws a nice twist into the mechanic, ensuring that you’re going to learn to pay attention to the sneaky bastard calling your turns.
Developed by Sumo Digital and published by…well, I’ll let you figure out who the publisher is…SEGA Rally Online Arcade is available now on XBLA for 800MSP, and will be available on PSN (PSN willing) at an estimated price point of $9.99. Don’t expect heavy investment in a season/series mode with this, but it is a great pick-up arcade racer if you’ve got some time to kill and just want to have some good old fashioned fun. Adding additional online and local multiplayer modes and extending the single player mode length would really help this title, but it’s not a bad price if you want it as a pick-up and play arcade racer.
|Arcade racer, not sim|
Multiple modes, including local splitscreen
Great upcoming turn annoucer
|Limited local multiplayer options|
Limited local singleplayer options
Short single player Champsionship mode