May 10, 2007 - For more than ten years, the SEGA Rally series has helped to define the off road genre. The quarter munching arcade title is still wildly popular and profitable today, and many racing fans still enjoy jumping into the arcade cockpit and racing each other for bragging rights. But SEGA is looking forward to taking the Rally series out of the arcade and into the home. This fall, [Register or Login to view links] will peel out on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. We managed to check it out at a press event for some quick early impressions.
The first thing that we were told was that the SEGA Racing Studio out of the UK will be handling racing for SEGA properties. The team definitely knows it's racing, as the more than 60 developers have worked on driving games from various developers like Criterion, Codemasters and Rockstar. With a stated studio mission "to bring state of the art racing to next-gen consoles," the Racing Studio is focusing on three specific facets of gameplay for the upcoming title. The development team wanted to make state of the art graphics, putting attention on the handling of vehicles in various environments and the close racing experience that was key to the competition during games. While we were shown examples of this from the original Sega Rally Championship as a indication of where the series had been twelve years ago on a SEGA Model 2 arcade board, we really wanted to see how this would translate to a game console.
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Looks like you're going to need a car wash after ripping up this track.
When the demo build was fired up (on a PS3), it was easy to see where the attention to detail had been placed. The first stage we were shown was a lush tropical setting with mountains and waterfalls in the distance. A shanty town marked the starting line, where a blue rally car sat. We were told that the design team has put in a specific paint shader to show off various hues and color gradients in the vehicle, as well as reflect the environment in the glossy exterior of the car. However, the finer details didn't stop there, as the attention to detail extended down to individual tire treads, and finer motion of brakes and brake calipers. Since the car was in pristine condition at the start, it had to get a little muddy. After taking it down the track from the harder packed earth into muddier terrain and water, we picked up on the caked on grime that layered the sides and front of the machine.
What's more, the track had been degraded realistically based on how the car had been driven, and would retain this level of deformation persistently throughout a race, forcing players and computerized opponents to adjust their strategies on lines to take through the various hazards. Part of this is due to a new degradable polygon mesh format that literally has a tire cutting into and shearing aspects of the track away as it passes. What's especially cool, as we were shown from a different camera angle, is that your car's tires and suspension will respond to this new track, riding higher and lower as it passes over and through grooves on the track. You can also hear the engine working much harder as it tries to propel the car through some of these thicker rutted mud sections.
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Expect some fierce competition with the other Rally Revo drivers.
Players will be able to take on five friends in online multiplayer races or five computerized opponents in the single player Championship mode, who will fight you and each other for position or bump you around the track in an attempt to make you spin out. While the damage modeling won't be completely realistic, there will be scrapes and minor damage that will be displayed on your car as you drive through the six racing environments. We were told four of those settings: tropical, alpine, safari and arctic, which we noticed was at the bottom of a mountain range and transitioned between gravel and tarmac to slick paved streets and eventually snow and slush covered tracks. However, that was a specialized race; we were told that each environment would have multiple tracks that you would drive on which would test your abilities, especially since the variety of conditions in each track would demand adjustments to your driving. Players will be able to take up to 34 different four wheel drive and two wheel drive machines on these courses, as well as some "wacky" bonus cars. While the Racing Studio hasn't included any other downloadable features or extras, they haven't ruled out the possibility of adding new cars, tracks or uploaded replays of races. We'll have more on SEGA Rally Revo soon.
Thanks to [Register or Login to view links] for sharing the news with us!