Based loosely on the 5,000-kilometer trans-European off-road race of the same name, and co-developed for the PlayStation 2, Master Rallye (not a typographical error) places you behind the wheel of over 20 robust 4x4s, buggies, and purpose-built racing trucks. Featuring a gameplay style that falls somewhere between 4×4 Evo 2 and Insane, Master Rallye is an fairly appealing treatment of cross-country â€œraidâ€ rallying.
But once you get past the gameâ€™s richly textured terrain graphics, youâ€™re left with a marginal arcade racer thatâ€™s been saddled with some disappointingly floaty driving physics. The absence of any proper cockpit view or rear-view mirrors â€” not to mention mouse support in the front-end menus â€” further underscores the gameâ€™s console roots.
To its credit, Rallye does offer a healthy dose of gameplay options, including over 250 miles and 30 stages of point-to-point racing, spread over seven countries. Thereâ€™s also a two-player split-screen mode and four-player GameSpy support for the socially active crowd. Damageable vehicles and challenging AI competition add to the experience, but the inability to drive your machine more than a few dozen yards off each courseâ€™s predetermined path (and some positively anemic force-feedback effects when youâ€™re off-road) wonâ€™t win over any hardcore simmers.
While it may not reproduce the full 3,000-mile course from Paris to Moscow, or let you properly â€œfind your own pathâ€ as the game box optimistically promises, Master Rallye does offer an attractive and stable platform from which to kick up some impressive-looking particle effects. The inclusion of eclectic vehicles such as the Indian-built Tata Safari or the Schlesser-Renault Buggy also adds a nice curiosity factor. If convincing physics arenâ€™t terribly important to you, Master Rallye might earn itself a significant hitch on your hard drive… until you install Colin McRae Rally 2.0.
System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, Win98
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