One of the most famed titles on the XBOX is ported over to the PC and while the word "port" seems to bring a shudder to the PC gamer, fear not as this one somehow manages to be better than it's XBOX version! You can play up to 4 people head to head on any track in the game over LAN/TCP/IP. While doing it with cleaner, more crisp graphics also.
Rallisport includes very realistic car physics and combines an arcade damage model for a winning combination of fun and realism. The physics in this game are bang on and very unforgiving; if you take a turn too fast you will pay. But due to the game's lack of incorporating a realistic damage model you will not find this game frustratingly hard. While some might argue that it is unrealistic to not include a damage model that affects the car, you may be right, but in a game that focuses on realistic game play you would find a realistic damage model very frustrating. Although this game does include broken windows/broken lights/crumpled bodywork, none of it will affect your cars ability to run. If you stray too far from the track you will automatically be put back on the track where you left, while cutting off exploring the map, it is a very handy feature trust me. The game includes some interesting game play modes such as "hill climb" and "ice racing" which proved to be my favorite aspect of the game but also includes the standard rally courses and some rally cross tracks (Closed rally courses that are used for head to head racing) providing some insanely fun multiplayer battles. But more on this later.
The physics are probably this game's high point, rivaling the realism of GT3 on the PS2. If you drive over gravel, you can actually feel your car sliding from side to side and then grip suddenly as you drive onto tarmac. Drive too fast around a muddy turn and you are in some serious trouble. The physics even change from car to car, actually making a difference as to which car you pick for which type of track you are driving. You will have 29 cars to select from ranging from specialized hill climb cars with lots of horsepower to rally cross cars designed for good handling/fast speeds. I could not keep the higher end cars under control as I found their speed greatly exaggerated and near impossible to control. The car models are precisely sculpted to their real life counterparts, including muffler back fires and as mentioned before do sustain moderate damage witch is purely for visual effect only, as it will not effect your car.
The single player portion of the game does feel sparse how ever, as it will not take long to advance through the 3 rally locations (Desert, Pacific and Mediterranean). In the career mode you will be awarded points to unlock certain cars and other portions of the game, such as hill climb and time trials. Which for me I found rather entertaining but could not help wanting more rally areas to visit with more challenges.
Graphically this game has it all, the grass will sway and trees will drop leaves if you are unlucky enough to smash into them. Mud and dirt will build on your cars through out the race and water will splash up behind your car when you scream through puddles. Spotting wild life running around also adds to the realistic feel, during a race in the safari I tried to run a zebra down which proved to be to no avail. Trees will sway in the wind and during rainstorms you can see lighting and fierce storm clouds adding some real atmosphere to a game in which the elements play a huge role. While you will need at least a GeForce 3 to enjoy these effects, the game is still just as fun with the detail turned down a notch.
While I was not wowed by the sound in this game it does get the point across. Cars will back fire and the sound of the surface roaring beneath your wheels will change depending on the surface. You will have your navigator telling you which way to turn and when not to cut the turn. Engine sounds are very well done and sound fairly accurate. This is probably the only part of the game you could tell it was originally an Xbox title.
In the terms of gameplay I found the game lacking as mentioned before. In the single race mode you can choose any track the game has to offer and race against 4 opponents head to head or you can compete in the time trials, where you are the only person on the track racing against the clock. You can save your ghost car in this mode, which will help you in shaving seconds off your best times. In the hill climb mode you are pitted against a mountain in which the first one to the top wins. Sound easy? Its not you are exposed constantly on one side, so one mistake and you're airborne. Rally cross is a closed circuit in which consists a ratio of dirt/tarmac. First one around wins. A neat feature is the ice-racing mode in which you are racing a closed circuit made of snow and ice. Very humorous to play online. Which brings me to mention: probably the game's strongest point and also one of the points lacking from the Xbox version. You can race with up to four opponents head to head on any track in the game and with the huge selection of cars it can really be a blast. With the arcade-like crash physics the crashing out in multiplayer isn’t a total loss as your opponent is bound to also. Beware of users with the Logitech MOMO wheel.... Trust me (hey Logitech feel free to send me one for the free shout out!). With lag free racing and a good selection in cars this is the game's shining point.
I was really impressed with this game being the PC racer and sim fan that I am. The winning combination of realistic physics and arcade-like game play is perfectly done in this racer, making it a must have for anyone who enjoys a good racing game. Keep in mind though, the physics in this game are bang on what rally racing is about so don't be expecting to just hold down the gas and expect to win. I think I use the break button more than I use the gas. To answer the question "should I buy this game?" If you are a racing fan and enjoy a realistic racer your answer is a definite yes. Those of you sporting a racing wheel will really have a blast with this game. I did and I was using a sidewinder game pad.