It's Been a while since a rally game flopped on to our doormat, a situation now rectified by the release of this so-called Xbox exclusive.' A launch title for Microsoft's behemoth console, it was largely lost in the post-Ha/o hype, as well as being somewhat overshadowed by the splendid Project Gotham Racing. Nevertheless, RalliSport Challenge is a superb Xbox game, and one that has been ported to the PC with the minimum of fuss and four shiny new cars.
Developed by Swedish pinball turned racing game veterans Digital Illusions and following their excellent Rally Masters of a few years back, this is a highly polished game. Naturally, being a rally game, it doesn't completely break the mould, and you can expect to drive a selection of noisy cars around a series of clearly dangerous tracks. However, within the genre they have managed to add a great deal of variety, and are now offering four different types of action.
Four To The Floor
The traditional rally sections are of course included, requiring you to shave crucial fractions of a second off your time on a solitary run. It's the usual seat-of-the-pants stuff, although if we have one quibble it's that the co-driver tends to get a little ahead of himself. For instance, he'll be warning you of a medium left, don't cut, trees inside, while you're still trying to get your head (and car) around an "easy right into hard left, careful, rocks. On-screen help is also available, and providing you can retune your brain to accommodate the shift in time, it's manageable.
For a change of pace, the hill climb mode offers just that, with numerous opportunities for you to attempt to get your Toyota Corolla up steep-as-you-like tracks before the inevitable plummet down nearby ravines.
There is also a four-car racing option on tracks composed of intermittent stretches of gravel and tar, and, finally, in a nod to the game's Scandinavian roots, the ice racing section, essentially one great big powerslide.
All top stuff, it offers a mainly satisfying drive. The mechanics of the career mode have been designed particularly well, with extra cars and tracks only becoming available after a concerted effort. As well as points for finishing position, bonuses are also available for not damaging your car, encouraging you to straddle a fine line between safety and speed. And while it needs an absolute mother of a PC to get the best out of it, the graphics are undeniably impressive, with swaying trees, animated crowds, and even animals fleeing your speeding car.
In the short term, RalliSport Challenge is addictive, and while it's not going to change your life, it might well keep you indoors for a while. With Colin McRae 3 still some way off, this is one of your best bets in the meantime.
Download RalliSport Challenge
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode