With and Project Gotham Racing 4 already on shelves, you'd think that we already have enough driving action to keep busy. Well add another quality ride to your list, because Sega Rally Revo warrants a high-speed recommendation. Not only does the game manage to eke out a quality rally racing experience, but it effectively hits the one key element necessary for a game such as this—it IS the Sega Rally experience, bumper to bumper.
When you hop into the driver's seat for the first time, you'll notice that the controls are a little bit floaty. Don't be fooled, though. A few miles down the track, and you'll soon realize that Sega Racing Studio captured the original's control scheme. Power slides feel completely natural, as you spin your wheels on the mud, snow or whatever surface you're on. It may seem unrealistic when you bump off the sides of the track like a pinball and don't take any real-time car damage, but Sega probably felt that keeping the momentum of the race was more important than rally vehicles falling apart. It's a respectable decision, although it probably won't sit well with those expecting realism.
Throughout the twenty-something courses, scattered over five different types of terrain (which range from snow-covered Alpine to land-barren Safari), the game maintains a very hectic rhythm. Six cars compete at once during each race and the artificial intelligence acts accordingly, closing on the inside gaps to avoid giving you a lead and staying on pace throughout each circuit.
Rally racing fans should enjoy the game's various modes. Along with Quick Race mode, you also have Time Attack. This mode works very well because you can upload and download record times worldwide, confronting the best players in the world without directly reaching them. The championship mode is worth playing too, with the option to unlock new paint jobs, vehicles and much more as you run through circuits. Garage lets you store your best replays to view at any time. Last but definitely not least, online play via Xbox Live enables you to hook up with up to five other friends in real-time races. It puts forth a fine effort, even with the occasional lag that slows the action once in awhile.
Graphically, Sega Rally Revo doesn't look as stunning as other racers, but it does do a fine job with track deformation. As you go through several laps on the track, you'll notice that tire tracks stay put, rather than fading away. This adds to the realism of the game and gives you an unexpected advantage. Rather than lose speed running through fresh soil and snow, you'll go over previously printed tire tracks and save yourself some time. Sega Racing Studio has also done an admirable job designing the cars themselves. They appear beautiful in their own right, with numerous Ford and Peugeot models available. What's even more of a shocker is when you hit a water puddle and most of it washes away the mud, only to build back up seconds later.
It's just a shame that the audio couldn't keep up. While the game has satisfactory background music and the traditional "Game Over Yeah" song at the conclusion of the races, the announcer sounds like he's not having any fun. Gone is the feeling of being called "Baby" by mistake, as you clearly hear this stoic-sounding dude saying, "Very long easy right, MAYBE".
Even though the ride loses momentum with the lack of real-time car damage, a better variety of tracks and a less-than-enthusiastic announcer, Sega Rally Revo still achieves a thumbs-up. The velocity of the racing action is not only enthralling but purely nostalgic, a throwback to the good ol' days.