Death Rally (2012) Review (PC)

Posted by Jim Cook, Aug 09, 2012 07:21

Death Rally comes from an obscure but excellent history. It shares a title and premise with the 1996 PC title Death Rally, which gave you a car, a gun, and very few rules as you were turned loose on several tracks played in an overhead style similar to late 80s to early 90s arcade racing games like Ivan ’Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road. Great track design combined with gradually upgrading your car resulted in a game that was easy to learn, and had just the right mix of racing and fighting. Now in 2012, we have a remake of that classic. While it gets the basic idea right, some of the details aren’t quite as they should be.

Death Rally (PC)Players take on the role of an illegal street racer, facing off against five other opponents in a series of short races. As the title implies, this is not a pleasant ride with courteous driving; it’s perfectly acceptable to blast the opposition to pieces and they’ll try to do the same to you. While there is a basic plot, the real focus is in collecting better cars and weapons. Do well enough at this and you’ll eventually face The Adversary, essentially the game’s final boss (with a superior car to go with that status).

The controls are very easy to learn, as you only have around a half-dozen buttons to push; accelerate, brake, turn left, right, deploying land mines, and firing your main weapon. Combined with the short races (they last about a minute and a half apiece), there’s a clear focus on getting you into the thick of the action as soon as possible. This part of Death Rally is fine, and sticks to a formula that served the original so well.

Unfortunately, a series of more subtle changes drag the experience down. You unlock new cars and weapons by killing your opponents, giving you a huge reason to not race. Most of my eight hour play-through was spent speeding ahead of the other racers to drop my land mines, then let them pass me and keep shooting them in the back. It’s pretty easy to place in the top three when half of the competition is no longer in the race, after all. Since you can generally only attack those ahead of you, there’s not much incentive to take the lead unless you can get so far ahead that opponents can’t shoot you.

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Our Rating for Death Rally (2012) Review (PC)
4.5 Replay
Grinding for hours to unlock vehicles isn’t much fun, certainly not something you’ll want to do twice. However, Multiplayer might do a lot to give it new life if they can get it working smoothly.
8.0 Graphics
For a title with this sort of budget and price, it looks surprisingly good. The tracks have nice visual variety, cars show damage throughout the race, and weapon effects are satisfying on the eyes. The only real problem is the HUD, which spreads info about your car all over the screen.
5.5 Sound
Completely forgettable music and announcer lines are weighed against good vehicle and attack sounds. It’s not bad overall, just not great.
6.0 Gameplay
Great controls and a good core idea of gradually upgrading your car would make for a fantastic game... except for basic track designs and AI that discourage racing.
0.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
0.0 is a placeholder for “reviewer unable to test this aspect of the game at time of writing, though other players have had varying experiences. Check the developers’ forums for more info on this.”
6.0 Overall
A mix of solid ideas bogged down by questionable implementation, Death Rally’s 2012 remake currently fails to stand above the original game. It may some day rise above that, but until then it is merely decent.

Rating: 4.0, votes: 1

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