It's rallying with a great big smile on its face. Don't get us wrong, the Colin McRae series will always have a place in our heart and Dirt is looking like a right old belter too. But Sega Rally's return, over a decade after the original, is aiming for a different feel. Technically, there's a lot going on with self-shadowing cars, and some amazing work on the tracks which we'll come back to. But the new Birmingham-based Sega Driving Studio's number one aim is to honour, respect and advance Sega Rally's arcade heritage. As Guy Wilday, studio Director says, "we believe the time is right for an innovative new off-road rally game. We want the player to feel the thrill of perfectly controlling a side in a high performance rally car while drifting inside another car around a tight muddy corner." In other words, they want you to love pulling off ridiculously dangerous stunts in fast cars on dirty tracks.
RALLY TO THE CAUSE
Many members of the dev team used to work on the Colin McRae series and you get the feeling that the opportunity to work on Sega Rally is a welcome rebound from producing a more traditional sim. But don't get the idea that this is merely arcade fluff. Sure, it's all about speed and hand-turns but there's a lot going on underneath the bonnet to suggest that this is going to be a genuine next generation game.
A case in point is what they're clumsily calling 'Surface Deformation Technology.' It sounds about as amusing as a night out at the bingo with Michael Schumacher, but basically it's a way of making the track different every time you play around it - something that would have been impossible until the extra horsepower of the Xbox 360 came into play. As you razz it through the course, the tyres kick up the mud and dirt and create ruddy great grooves on the track. With multiple cars bombing it around, this process creates a uniquely uneven surface on each and every lap, changing the handling as the circuit is always evolving. You can take advantage of this, you can drive in the grooves made by your competitors to give you extra traction, grip and more speed. So far it looks like the brummie binary boffins are doing a bang-up job of breathing new life into an old favourite.