Mud-slingin', Car-flippin' action!
Rally Cross is Sony's answer to the popular Sega Rally. However, besides cars and tracks, they are anything but similar. Hard-core rally racing is delivered here, but the learning curve is pretty steep. Rally Cross isn't a bad game, in fact it's pretty good, but there are a couple of extremely annoying flaws.
To begin with, the graphics are amazing. The textures and rolling landscapes are exquisite. The six tracks that you race through are all beautiful and full of life. Visit a desert with hilly sand dunes or race through the jungle. Either way, you'll soon be pulling huge air over the crowd while flinging mud all over the place. Instead of the windows reflecting the sky as in most racers, you can actually see the drivers heads! These transparent windows actually prove useful at some points. The graphics are the most impressive part of the game, they create a realistic atmosphere to zoom around in at 100 mph.
The sound is also marvelous. Every time your car rolls over you will hear the shocks creaking. Start flipping and the sound of metal scraping over the ground will screech out loudly. Rev your engine at the start line, and shift into first as soon as the light turns green... sounds good! All the sound is amazingly realistic and was done extremely well.
Rally Cross includes numerous options that give the game extended longevity. For each track, you have the option of racing it either forwards or backwards. Plus, there are three different versions of each track, each with different shortcuts for you to utilize. This is what real rally racing is about, the effective use of shortcuts. You can also race head-on against the computer, play two-player, or even with a multi-tap, play four-player. There are several different views of your car that you can choose while racing. They include three third person views, far, medium, and close, as well as one in-car camera. The in car camera is hilarious as you are flipping all over the place, it mixes you up more than a margarita. There are 16 different cars and 4 different trucks for a total of 20 vehicles to choose from in the game. Each has different acceleration, handling, and speed. There is even a car dubbed "monkey," perfect for you animal lovers out there.
The biggest 'flaw' in the game is the handling of the cars. For beginners, it is extremely difficult and will prove challenging for an very long time. Even for expert racers, it will take a little while to get accustomed to. The problem is that the control is so loose that you'll soon find your self in a barrel-roll coming around a corner.
This is where the game differs from Sega Rally which is much easier to control because it is more of an arcade racer, and less of a sim. But, at the same time, the control scheme adds lots of difficulty, so if you're looking for a game that will take you a long time to master, Rally Cross could be the one.
The other annoying flaw is that of frame-rate. It's great single player, but even when you get into two player, it drops about 5-10 frames a second. And with 4 players, you'll be running at one half the normal frame-rate.
Compared to other racing games, Rally Cross is notably realistic. But, with that realism, comes increased difficulty, which is something that not all people want in a racing game.