Review: Sega Rally Online Arcade (PS3)

Title: Sega Rally Online Arcade
Format: PlayStation Network Download
Release Date: May 16, 2011
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sumo Digital
Price: $9.99

As the name would suggest, Sega Rally Online Arcade has its roots in the arcade, dating back to Sega Rally Championship. For an arcade type racer though, there’s some surprising depth here. Getting right into the controls, you can use the Dualshock in two different configurations, one of which allows you to steer using the Sixaxis. Move support is included in several configurations as well allowing you to use just the Move controller or the Move and Navigation or Dualshock as well. There’s also the (undocumented) ability to use Logitech Racing wheels!

With all those options, how does it control? It’s all a bit of a trade off. The Move controller feels the loosest and requires a lot more patience. You’ll be sliding all over the tracks early on with this configuration. One trick I learned is that it’s easiest to twist your wrists left or right to make your turns. The Dualshock feels like the most natural configuration but several hours in and I still have trouble on some of the tighter turns. The Logitech wheel support is a pleasant surprise and actually handles really well… after an initial period of adjustment. I’ve found that the wheel can be a bit too sensitive, making it more difficult to handle the gentle curves but excellent for really tight turns, kind of opposite the Dualshock. All three options give force feedback but the wheel is where that really shines. You’ll be fighting your way through the sand, dirt and snow feeling like you’re just barely on the edge of control much like you would be in a real car at speeds that high. It does tend to feel a bit overly sensitive, but with some practice, it’s a really nice option to have in the game.

While reviewing the game on Episode 221 of the podcast, Glenn mentioned that the car felt “disconnected” in a way and to a certain extent, I can agree with that. However, you can really feel a difference moving from dirt or snow to asphalt and I think the force feedback, especially with the wheel, can do a good job of “putting you in the driver’s seat”.

You have five tracks total in the game. The three in the main single player modes include the aptly named Tropical, Canyon, and Alpine. You can unlock a fourth, called Lakeside, by completing the Championship Mode in first place then beating an AI opponent on the Lakeside course. Championship Mode has you racing all three courses in succession starting in 22nd place. You’ll work your way forward in the pack and where you finish carries over to the start of the next race. This alone will keep you busy for a few hours as you have to master all four courses and while you can practice the first three to your heart’s content in Quick Race mode, you’ll be coming in to Lakeside blind the first time. If you don’t beat what is a pretty punishing AI driver, you have to go back and start the Championship mode all over again just for another shot at unlocking Lakeside.

Besides Championship and Quick Race, you have Time Attack where you can load Developer Ghost cars and compete for the best lap times. You can also save your own ghost car to help push yourself since your scores will post to the worldwide leaderboards when you’re online.

There’s also a Classic Mode where you get to race the Desert track from the Sega Rally Championship arcade game using the original cars from the game, the Toyota Celica and the Lancia Super Delta. This is a nice little nostalgic bonus which shows you the game’s roots and gives you an extra track on which to race.

Ultimately, this is an arcade game with mostly arcade physics. The only things being tracked here are your overall times and miles driven on any of the 11 cars in the game (five of which need to be unlocked). While it may not seem like you’re getting much variety, there are actually some subtleties to the gameplay which add an unexpected layer of strategy. The first has to do with track deformation. As you race through the sand, dirt and snow, all the cars cut grooves into the track. On successive laps, you’ll need to adjust your driving line because driving through all of it can actually slow your car a bit. The other variable you need to take in account is mud and dirt getting caked on your car. This will slow your car a bit as well and while you can wash some of it off by driving through puddles on the track, those puddles will also slow you down. While the speed differences might not be dramatic, losing a couple of races by a small margin might make you think twice about how you drive.

There’s definitely enough here to keep the game fun and interesting For a while.

The visuals are overall quite good. Expect a typical arcade racer with sharp lines. Each of the tracks does a great job representing a different environment. You’ll get sandy beaches and clear blue water with lush, green forests in the Tropical track. The Canyon track will have you racing across the top of a dam and off into the surrounding rocky, desert canyons from asphalt to sand and back again. The Alpine course has you racing from dry to slick wet asphalt and into the snow. Trying to pass other racers here can be tricky as all the cars throw up a could of snow obscuring your vision just when you need it most.

Track deformation looks solid. Mud and grime get caked across your bumper as you race and a realistic way. Moving from bright open spaces into tree covered areas, especially in the Lakeside course look especially good with shadows and muted lighting. Nothing here screams triple A title, but for an inexpensive arcade racer, the visuals are great.

Much like an arcade game, the music and effects tend to be a bit limited. There are no custom soundtracks and while the races tend to be relatively short, this would have been a nice addition. There are only a few musical tracks but they have a real good 90’s arcade vibe to them with heavy bass lines and such. If you get sick of them you can always mute them in the options but so far it hasn’t bothered me.

While different voice actors are used, you’ll still get sounds dating back to the original arcade version such as “Game Over Yeah!” and a navigator at your side telling you what kinds of turns and such are coming up on the track. While you can turn down the volume on the Navigator, it’s best to leave it on until you get a good feel for each of the courses.

Don’t expect a full soundtrack and heavy crowd noise here. The cars sound like they should and the music has that driving arcade beat to it. It’s pretty much what should be expected in a title like this.

Local two player battles have a plethora of gameplay options to choose from with a straight up Quick Race, Dominator, Knock Out, Time Lag, Classic Battle and Touring Battle. If you have a second player handy, these modes will keep you busy for quite a while.

Online allows 2-6 players to battle it out over the available tracks. The host has a number of options including track selection, maximum number of racers, number of laps (sadly just 2 or 3), whether AI cars are allowed and the difficulty level (casual or arcade). It’s quite easy to get in and set up a game. Voice chat works great and text chat is available in the lobby if someone doesn’t h a mic available.

For the most part, online games go off without a hitch, but I did run into some lag issues and a glitch every now and then. Early on in one of races, the cars around me would jump forward and back on the track and in another, one of the players seemingly dropped out before finishing when apparently he finished second according to his screen. It was nothing really game breaking and certainly nothing to detract from the joy of a quick arcade race between friends.

Sega Rally Online Arcade is exactly that, a Sega Rally Arcade game. While a few extra tracks would have been nice, the $9.99 price point seems justified based on the number of options available in both the single player and multiplayer modes.

If you’re looking for a fun little racer where you can just drop in, blow through a couple of races without having to worry about tuning and all, this is your game.


Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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