Sega Rally originated as an arcade game back in 1995 that became known for its graphics, handling and close racing. After its success it then made its way to various home platforms in the years that followed and I remember many hours were spent playing the PC version at the time.
It basically defined the rally genre where many games then followed, however in the last 5 years, it’s been quite a lean time for Sega Rally fans, so when I was invited down to London to a special Sega Rally 2007 Preview Session for bloggers, I could hardly turn down that kind of opportunity and here’s what I learnt from the session.
Before Screenshot…(Original version)
Deformation – This is the big technological advance present in Sega Rally, in the past rally games how tried to give the illusion of changing surfaces, but not truly done it. Here SEGA have managed to provide a truly dynamic course to race on which means the racing line of the track during the course of a race will change and taking what you think is the standard line will actually slow you down!
Tropical – your wheels dig into the muddy sections creating grooves on the track, gradually water will flow into these grooves which changes how the track feels to drive on.
Snow – likewise your car compresses the snow creating tracks which I found really did make a difference driving over them later in the race.
Canyon – the soil and gravel gets pushed around the track and also when the course goes from the dirt track onto the tarmac, you can power slide round the corner and lay some rubber down – you can then benefit from more grip on that same corner on subsequent laps.
For a more comprehensive explanation of ‘deformation’ from the guys at SEGA themselves, take a look at the videos on the Sega Rally 2007 YouTube channel.
Driving with a setup comprising of a PS3, Logitech Racing Wheel set-up and a HDTV makes for a great racing experience. It really feels as though you have been wrestling with getting the car round the course, especially given the different surfaces and the deformation that occurs – you really feel the effect on the car as you drive through deep grooves created in the mud or snow, it does seem like you’re driving a real car, if you’re serious about your racing, it would definitely be worth investing in a gaming set-up such as this!
You can drive the usual suspects of cars including the Subaru Impreza and the Ford Focus as well as lots of unlockable cars that the developers have come up with.
To put in context how technology has advanced in the intervening years – the original game’s cars were each made up of 64 textures (as you can see in the first screenshot at the top of the page), now they have 64,000 textures (see the screenshots below) and that really shows all round the car, from the sun gleaming off the metallic paintwork to the detail of the wheels and suspension. Once you start driving though, your car soon shows off the other car details, such as you drive through the mud of the tropical tracks, your car gets a nice coat of mud which then gets washed off driving through the pools of water.
After Screenshot…(2007 version)
Once you’re busy driving at speed, this is one of those games where you soon forget about the awe of the graphics since you’re that immersed in what you’re doing – trying to get the car round the corners as best you can! It’s only when you’re watching somebody else play you can truly appreciate all the detail that the game delivers graphically, both on and off the track – I must say I did like the fact that when I was driving, I hit the part of a roadside shack and had pieces of wood flying all over!
I was rather pleased to hear that the developers hadn’t gone over the top wasting their time creating pointless camera angles as this is a real pet hate for me. In this department you can pretty much expect to get your standard functional cameras – you don’t need any ‘Google Maps’-style satellite imagery camera where you can’t even make out your car, so it’s not in the game!
The only thing I am wondering about is how it plays with a standard controller, Xbox 360 should be ok since you’ve got feedback, but for PS3 players with no vibration effects, it may be a little lacking, but that’s the console and not the game’s fault.
Thanks to SEGA and their marketing team for providing us with this opportunity and the exclusive screenshots shown in this preview.
Overall you can be sure that Sega Rally makes its return into the ‘current-generation’ age of gaming in the true spirit of the original games which is what the developers set out to do from the start. It’s also very apparent from looking and playing at what they have come up with, that this is no straight-laced racing simulator, it’s a real homage to its arcade origins while at the same time it shows that ‘deformation’ is the way of the future!
I’m certainly looking forward to playing this again when it’s released on 28th September for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PSP and with a Mobile version to follow at a later date.
EDIT: If you’re interested in reading more about this series of Sega Rally blogger events, be sure to take a look at the following sites: