Simply the best racer available on any 32-bit machine. Although it was released in early '96, Sega Rally still is the playable racer it always was. The graphics are slightly outdated by now (but not by far), but the playability seems to win over everything. The way Sega have managed to make the cars handle just like you might see it in a real rally race is just amazing. The tournament provides a realistic challenge as you progress through each stage, as the position you place in the previous race stays the same for the next race and is a bit like a pole position deal. Even if you manage to get into second place at any point, the 1st place car is usually miles away.
As stated earlier, the graphics are now quite outdated, but not by far. Apparently this game runs in a low-res mode which is quite surprising considering it's overall quality - the solidity of the cars, the smooth frame rate and the luscious texture mapped polygons - all this makes it look quite good. The graphics overall look more like Mario 1 vs VF3 compared to Sonic R now (OK, not quite), but the playability of this game is, in the long run, slightly better.
You are faced with three original tracks - Desert, Forest and Mountain - and one hidden track, Lakeside, which you are awarded once you manage to come 1st. This is a slight shortage, but not a very big one considering you only have 15 cars in each tournament. Rather than the other cars, in this game the walls are your arch-enemy as just a mere bump and your car loses valuable speed and time. It's up to you to negotiate a safe route round and involves on-the-dot precision timing to get the corners just right. The better route you take, the higher place you get, the faster time you get and finally, a higher chart ranking. This gives you endless hours of fun and you will be hard-pushed to stop playing this game for a very long period of time.
Once again, the all-famous split-screen 2-player mode takes it place and, surprisingly enough, provides a new challenge (yes I've been through all this before). But it really is great, and the navigation system is removed to make it more confusing for players. It really is excellent.
The music in this game is just superb. It includes a number of rock guitar tracks and most of them are unbeatable. The races normally take a lot shorter to race than the tracks take to listen to, so players might be interested in checking the songs out using the sound test. The engine noises drown out the music quite a lot as you might imagine, which makes it sound slightly different but it is still very enjoyable to listen to. The voice samples are very clear so that the navigator can be heard and direct you around the course. The only really annoying samples are those of the person who introduces the replays, who has a weird accent and likes to say pointless things. But nevertheless, it is great to watch your car from a different angle afterwards.
Sega Rally is packed with great options, such as number of laps and stuff like that. It also includes a custom car option where you can pick one of the original cars and fine tune it to your hearts content. Yes, you'll have some great fun fiddling with your blow-off valve.
Once again, playabilty wins over everything. The graphics are now looking a bit rubbish, a miniscule fraction of the music selection is crap, but the playabilty of this game will blow you away, and will keep you coming back.... Come to think of it, this review was a bit pointless. Why? Well WHY don't you have this game already?
Review By: Joel Stanier