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A review of Europress' Rally Championship for the PC

By Paul
1 May 2003

A few years back Magnetic Fields gave us Network Q Rally, and set the benchmark for Rally sims/games, it was perfect but the best yet. Sure enough a sequel followed, except this time it was under the international banner, this was a slight dissapointment, not really offering anything new that we had already seen in NQR. The title of best Rally game was lost when Colin McRae Rally from Codemasters came and smashed the rivals to pieces, now RC99 is likelyto do the same, except obliterate the rivals in one move.

RC99 follows the same step as used in it's previous Rally titles, they use photographs of cars and scenary as graphics. Back in the early days of the RC titles, Magnetic Fields (MF I will call it) had to work with 256 colours, which seriously impacted on the graphics. Still, they were considered good for the time, now 256 colours is considered to be a stupid move in games, so that's why RC99 is now made up of gourgeous 24-bit graphics. And that's just the start.

The new 3D engine now boasts reflections, transparency effects, fog, lighting effects (the night looks especially special), specular lighting, coloured lighting, flares and more. CMR looks sheepish compared with RC99's list of features. If you have a decent 3D card to do justice, then RC99 will look the buisness, and it will look better in those tasty hi-res modes. The new weather effects look fab too, with snow, rain, sun sets, storms, fog and a lazy summer feel all in-coperated into this package. The game itself has more options than ever, Britsh Rally Championship; World Rally Championship; arcade mode like in NQR with opponent cars to race against; time-trial mode; two player split-screen (as in TOCA1+2, vertical or split screen); and up to eight players via local area network. Nice. All the cars are availible for the British championship, the world championship is the same courses except with the world rally cars. NQR allowed you to customise some of the features of brake balance, and just like in GP2 and most F1 sims, MF are likely to add most of the options so you can tweak all of the components on the car - as PC Gamer would say, this is for the most anal.

The last rally outing for the PC was V-Rally which was well, basically crap. Not up to PC standards, a too arcadey feel. A game which died as a result of it's crap handling. RC99 hopefully will not follow the same V-Rally route, nice visuals yet rubbish gameplay/handling. Okay, shout at me all you want, but this is my opinion, and yes I've actually played it; hated it; put it down again. Certainly the main aspect of RC99 is going to be it's visuals. It's the kind of game that, you want to play it, but first just look at it for not minutes, not hours, but for days. If you want, take a 'snap' of a car, now get a real photo of the card and note the differences - not a lot is there. CMR had 250 polys per car, RC99 has 1,500 per car and this is not including the rest of the place. MF have gone all over the rally stages and painstakingly photographed/videoed each stage and plastered the details onto a 3D model. As said, all of the game is made up of photgraphs, none is made by hand!

Another turing point is that instead of having the hand of god or an invisible barrier keep you on the circuit/stage, MF allow you to roam free around the whole map. NQR was made up of just the stage, imagine a map with just the road but without details such as buildings and telephones etc. Well, NQR was like that, RC99 is like a massive map, you can go down a wrong turn if you wish and do a spot of sight seeing, this is if you don't want to win that is.

Oh yes, for people who like mud, theres plenty of it. For those who enjoyed NQR's blend of muddy stages and mud splattered over the car, well RC99 does this in splendid detail, with clouds of 'cow's chocolate' beautifully flying everywhere. Rather nice in-fact.

The cars are excellently detailed, and so is the cockpits. GPL boasted a virtual cockpit, so did TOCA2, and so does RC99. TOCA2 had some of the most detailed cockpits, and now RC99 is likely to teach Codemasters another lesson. So then, RC99 is likely to beat CMR, but theres a slight sting in the tail. Digital Illusions are producing Rallymasters, and Codemasters are coming out with another CMR (Colin McRae Rally 2 is the working title). Yes Codemasters are having the little scotsman in his car as there title, although it won't be the Suberu, it will be Ford's Focus. RC99 has got a bit of competition.

About Author

This article was written by Paul. Paul is one of the owner's of the entire SimRacingWorld.com Network. He is in overall control of what happens on the site and posts most of the news and articles.

Paul has written 26 articles for SimRacingWorld.

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