Retro Review: Rally Cross
Developed By: Sony Computer Entertainment of America
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment of America
Original Release Date: January 31, 1997
Not Recommended. Rally Cross may emulate the feel of being in a real rally car better than any modern racing game. Why? Because it makes you want to puke. Expect to be flipped over and over again, as your car tumbles through pixelated worlds dictated by horrifyingly weightless physics. The touchy controls, the poor presentation, and the vomit after-taste should be reasons enough to avoid this racer. It's not like the PSP doesn't have far better racing games.
Sony's PSone releases on the PlayStation Store have been less-than-stellar so far. While the budget price of these re-releases is nice, many of these games simply aren't worth the cost of admission. Rally Cross is a perfect example of a game to avoid. It shares many problems with Sony's own ATV Offroad Fury series on the PSP, such as limited opponents and clunky controls. However, Rally Cross adds its own share of problems, such as a horrific physics system that make your vehicles appear to weigh as much as a Matchbox racer, not a real rally car with a motor in it. The horrible draw distance, and lack of multiplayer options make it hard to recommend this racer, especially when ATV Offroad Fury is also available at a bargain price.
The first level that you play demonstrates nearly every flaw the game has in strides. The undulating sand hills look pixelated, and the camera positioning doesn't give you a good vantage of the "road" ahead. The colors all merge together, and so it becomes horribly unclear where you have to go. Turns become impossible obstacles, only made worse by the floaty physics. Your car launches into the air over every hill, and bounces on landing. This becomes incredibly disorienting in a race where simple navigation becomes a challenge. Slow and steady is the way to get through the level ... but unfortunately, this is a racing game.
The other levels demonstrate the game's better capabilities far better, especially the second one. The jungle environment looks quite splendid on the PSP's screen: the detail in the background seems lush, and the environmental effects are a nice touch. The jungle level works better because there aren't too many gravity-defying bumps to worry about. The controls, then, become much more manageable. However, that doesn't mean that they're precise by any means.
It feels like your cars simply have no traction at all as they're skidding through the levels. Off-road racing is meant to feel different from traditional racers, but that doesn't account for the seeming weightlessness of the cars. The lack of traction, and the way impacts work, make the game much less satisfying to control. It's not uncommon to find your car flipped over on its back, unable to move forward. In fact, it's much too common. A simple hill, or a simple bump to the wall can have your car flipping dozens of times. You'll even see your opponents flip over constantly. However, unlike you, they seem to never stay on their backs.
Rally Cross is not a game broken by time. It was broken to begin with. For the most part, the graphics are actually quite good for a PSone game; it certainly looks better than most, if not all, DS racing games out there. The sounds are quite full and loud, and the load times are quick. The game succeeds in a purely technical perspective. However, the touchy controls, the poor presentation, and the vomit after-taste should be reasons enough to avoid this racer. It's not like the PSP doesn't have far better racing games.
PSP Fanboy Retro Review: 4.0 out of 10
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