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V-Rally Edition '99

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: eden studios
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

On the surface, the graphics are great. When you're moving around the (sometimes dirt) streets that have been barricaded to form a track, the graphics seem very realistic. After playing for a while, you will start to notice that some of the elements on the outskirts of the track are actually flat, like movie props. This in and of itself is not actually that rare - and the background sound effects are excellent and help to reinforce the feeling of 'environment'. The real problem occurs when playing in 1st person view. The way that V-Rally handles the horizon is a simplified method which works well in their 3rd person views, but can produce unexpected (and sometimes laughable) results when used in a 1st person view. As long as you stick to a 3rd person view, however, the graphics are fine.

Gameplay:

Are you a driver? Do you live for the finely tuned roar of an overpowered exotic engine, pumping raw power through the drive-train of a car that costs about as much as your average house (with a swimming pool)? Do you ache for the exhilaratingly precise control that can only be experienced behind the wheel of a car born to run and designed to 'ride on rails? If so - you are SOOOOOO in the WRONG PLACE!

Rally racing is completely different than any popular type of racing in the U.S. The idea is, essentially, to take a small but capable car (typically the 4WD version of the small hatchback type cars... think SUBARU and HYUNDAI), throw two teammates in, one to drive and one to navigate, and drive through courses that consist of normal streets, dirt roads, sometimes racing over cobblestone through a town, sometimes through a desert terrain, and always in conditions that are conducive to flipping... a lot. I have seen very few actual Rally races, but I have seen the driver and navigator working together to 'rock' the car back upright and continue the race. In the same way that rugby is a little more 'out there' than football, Rally is a bit more 'out there' than any type of racing popular in the U.S. The major difference? In V-Rally, every now and then, your tires will actually come in contact with the road. At best, you have very little control over your car. The entire race is not so much speed oriented, as managing to maintain control more than the others. This is one racing game that you can't continuously hold down the accelerator. Once you work beyond that, V-Rally can be a blast.


Difficulty:

V-Rally is difficult - not necessarily the racing itself (?), but simply trying to stay upright and in the right direction. Once you learn how to negotiate around turns (sharp, and not so sharp), without wrecking or whipping around the wrong direction, you'll be able to really start doing better. Most racing games almost require you to hold the accelerator down throughout the race. V-Rally 99 renders this essentially impossible. You must learn to trade off speed for control if you want to succeed in V-Rally.

Game Mechanics:

The graphics engine is very nice when displaying in 3rd person view. However, the background (off in the distance) is merely a scrolling 'wrap around' image. Handling distant backgrounds in this manner are a customary practice, but V-Rally doesn't bother to tilt the background when the vehicle tilts. The result is that the horizon in the distance stays level on the screen, and the nearby surroundings twist left or right when you tilt left or right. In (any of the many, many) crashes in V-Rally 99, your car can rock left or right quite a bit... it can even flip over. Watching your close surroundings roll around you while the horizon stays stationary quickly slaps you out of that 'immersive' feeling that a 1st person perspective can produce. V-Rally offers a fun insight into a very unique sport, but fails to offer a good 1st person experience. It could almost be completely overlooked if it weren't for the high frequency in which Rally cars are not flat on a level road. Choose 3rd person view and enjoy... if you can keep it on the road.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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