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Software Review of:
RalliSport Challenge

 

a powerful machine

Bill Hunsicker is a retired computer scientist and software developer who dabbles in photography and genealogy. See his Web page.

From the June, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Rallisport Challenge (PC version) is three very full CDs and requires 1867.5 MB to install fully. It features 29 Rally cars from many well known manufactures like Mitsubishi, Audi, Ford, Peugeot, Saab, Subaru and others. Each one handles and sounds a little different. With 4 modes (Career, Single Race, Time Attack, and Multiplayer), and 48 tracks across 4 Rally types (Rally, Hill Climb, Rallycross and Ice Racing), you can experience the exhilaration of Rally racing like never before. In Career mode, you start on the “Pro” circuit with a limited selection of vehicles and try to build up to the “Expert,” “Classic” and “Unlimited” circuits. Each event consists of several stages. Completing a stage earns you points. Sufficient points will unlock more powerful cars and more challenging tracks. The experience is almost identical to the X-Box version and one of the very best driving games I have ever tried on the PC.

Single Race mode lets you compete simultaneously against three computer-controlled vehicles, but you do not earn points like you do in Career mode. Time Attack mode gives you the opportunity to save your best runs in the form of a ghost, which you can then race against. You do not earn points in Time Attack mode, but you can get lots of practice. Network multiplayer mode allows competition with up to three other players. You can choose to operate across a Lan or across the Internet. While you can’t earn points in multiplayer mode, you can humiliate you friends (or be humiliated by them). It’s ESRB rating is “E” for everybody.

You begin your racing career by establishing a profile for your racer and providing a name. This is where you store the points you earn, as well as your personalized settings. You can accumulate points by completing Rallies, Rallycrosses, Hill Climbs and Ice Races. Points are earned for various accomplishments like winning, achieving top speed, avoiding damage, and just completing the race. The player with the highest points at the end of a race is the winner, but not necessarily the one that came in first! Your event points add to your overall total and as you accumulate more points, you become eligible for more races and more cars. These vehicles are powerful machines, so the learning curve is nearly as steep as it is in real Rally driving, but the hospital recovery (or reincarnation) time is a lot shorter — smile!

At the beginning of every race (just before starting), you have the opportunity to adjust you vehicle settings (tires, transmission, suspension, etc.) for racing conditions. In a Rally race, there are no laps, and your goal is to get from the starting line to the finish in the shortest measured time. During a Rally, only one racer is on the track at a time. Rallying means sliding into hard turns on loose surfaces, losing and regaining traction, and mastering challenging terrain that the average driver would never attempt. The racer with the best time at the end is the winner. In Rallycross, you pit your machine against three other racers. You are wheel-to-wheel on mixed terrain for a lap-based race. Ice racing is just like Rallycross, but you are up against your opponents on a slick, snowy/icy course. hazardous course Skills at accelerating, braking, and sliding around curves are even more essential. A Hill Climb is a Rally with more severe terrain and even more unpredictable weather. A single wrong move can send you plunging over a cliff; yet, you must push yourself and your machine to the very limits to reach the top of the mountain first.

On my main machine (see primary below), the graphics are excellent and approach the quality of imagery found on my grandson’s PS-2 In addition, the glass in car windows cracks, fenders dent, shadows show, dust clouds trail from the wheels and snow and mud act like snow and mud! Learning to slide into curves on the various surfaces is tricky, but will really help you score. Microsoft provides optional navigational aids in the upper center of your screen. Depending on the type of race, either pace notes or a course map can aid you. Pace notes are small visual clues that warn you about upcoming hazards (turns, road conditions, banks, bridges, etc.). Course maps are small images that show you the course layout and where you and your competition are located on it. During Rally and Hill Climb, your co-driver also provides voice and visual clues to warn you of changing terrain and road conditions.

The manual Microsoft provided was superb. It explained everything (setup, options, menus, modes, and technical support options). And although they occur in a very small portion of the public, it even provided a Safety Warning about Photosensitive Seizures, what they are, what to watch for, and how to avoid them. What it did not provide was the minimum system requirements. For that I had to go to the RallisportChallenge site. This was particularly important in this case because when I tried to install the game to the machine my grandson gets to use (see secondary machine), it indicated a possible problem with the video card. In fact, when I tired to run the game on that machine, it froze for a while and then Windows XP aborted the run and submitted a dump to Micslideshow imagerosoft. Although the web site indicates it will work with a GeForce 2 video card it would not work with mine. Even after the latest drivers were installed is would still not run. Further testing indicates I may have a bad video card and other games have rejected it recently. So don’t blame Microsoft yet.

Recommendation
All though my secondary machine could not run it, on the main machine, it ran great! If you like racing games and have at least the minimum equipment shown below (check website for specifics) plus a game controller (or joystick), I can highly recommend this game. It will work without a gamepad, wheel, or joystick, but is not nearly as much fun with just the keyboard. With a Sidewinder game controller, it’s great fun for all ages.

BestBuy lists Rallisport Challenge for PC at $29.99 + tax, but they were out of stock when I checked. On the Web: Microsoft lists Rallisport Challenge CD in Box for $34.95 and Amazon lists RalliSport Challenge for $29.99.

Vendor information:
Rallisport Challenge was produced by Microsoft Game Studios. You can contactPC Game Info them at RalliSport Challenge, support or at games.

Minimum Requirements:
( CPU, Ram, Disk storage, OS, other hardware) CPU-733mHz, Mem-128MB, Hard Disk –1.5 GB, Video-32MB with Hardware T&L (GeForce, Radon, or equivalent), 4x speed or faster CD-ROM drive, OS-Windows( 98/ME/2000/XP), DirectX 8.1 or better.

Reviewer's system specifications:
Prime PC: AMD Athlon 1.6 GHz, 1.25 GB RAM, Windows XP Pro, DirectX 9.0a, 64 MB ATI Radeon 7000, On-Lite DVD, DirectX-compatible Sound Blaster Live card, Logitech Trackball, Microsoft Sidewinder Game controller, keyboard. Secondary PC: AMD Athlon 1.0 GHz, 384 MB RAM, Windows XP Home, DirectX 9.0a, 64 MB Geforce 2MX/MX-400, NEC CD-ROM Reader, DirectX-compatible C-Media sound, Logitech Trackball, Microsoft Sidewinder Game controller, keyboard.


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