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Review: SEGA Rally Online Arcade

Posted by on September 20th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Tags:

When I first booted up SEGA Rally Online Arcade, I was greeted by what seemed like pretty much the same menu from the retail PS3 game from some years ago. Of course, this is nothing new for a SEGA digital re-release. Outrun Online Arcade had the same menus as the game it was based on, it just seemed to be the norm. However, something felt off here. SEGA in fact sold their old UK racing studio to Codemasters after the game shipped, a cruel twist of fate, considering a fair chunk of the staff on SEGA Rally came from the developer. SEGA Rally Online Arcade doesn’t have the same nostalgia feel of Outrun or Afterburner, it feels like one developer rifling through the closet of another, putting together an outfit from their discarded clothes. It’s just sort of soulless.

The great graphics of the old SEGA Rally game are intact here, right down to the awesome terrain deformation and mud splatter on the cars. The tracks are solid and vibrant, complete with that classic SEGA racing game look of clear blue skies. In my time with SEGA Rally, I encountered 5 tracks, although 2 of them were in fact locked from the start. This happened along with a selection of cars being locked away for use in the time attack mode after certain conditions were met, which is somewhat disheartening. I understand the developer’s desire to reward progression with goodies, but in a game so pick up and play as SEGA Rally, locking away things as vital to the experience as whole tracks seems fairly daft.

Although, once you get on the tracks themselves, you might actually experience a bit of confusion yourself. The driving in SEGA Rally feels odd to say the least. Cars seemingly glide around the track with very little traction or loss of speed, the only clue to a changing road surface being the rumble of the controller. If you really want to go for the full loss of immersion in the race, play with the move controller. Rotating the darn thing to turn left and right is downright hilarious at times, giving the impression of attempting to steer a barge with semaphore. As in, it doesn’t work right most of the time, and when it does it feels like luck was on your side. Good luck winning the race with that control option. However, racing wheels are of course supported, which was great news for me. With a wheel, the controls in fact feel much better, making the game feel like the arcade racer it was designed to be.

Of course, the main part of the game is in the title itself, the online play. I’m sad to report that the online didn’t really work at all. Miraculously, there are still people playing the game, but performance was horrific. I watched in awe as my opponent’s car jumped around the track like a faulty Delorean, and chuckled to myself as my placing in the race changed every couple of seconds due to the shoddy netcode. Or course, no terrible online experience is complete without a few hard locks, and I’m pleased to say that SEGA Rally didn’t disappoint there, with a solid 3 locks while playing online. Of course, the split screen mode works well, and the time attack mode is where the real competition is anyway. Beating the times the developers of the game set themselves really does feel like an accomplishment.

SEGA Rally Online Arcade never really feels like the game it so desperately wants to be. From the awkward driving to the lacklustre online, it doesn’t quite work as a whole. If you plan on playing the game with a wheel, feel free to add a point to that score over there. It really does improve the experience immensely, but the trouble is that when playing with a controller, not even those classic SEGA blue skies can save SEGA Rally Online Arcade from mediocrity.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

  • Driving model feel far too floaty.
  • Unlockable cars and tracks in an arcade racer? No thanks.
  • Laggy, unreliable online.