If I say the words, RC Pro-Am, does your inner child do a back flip? If he or she does, then I strongly suggest you check out Remedy’s newest IOs port to the PC, Death Rally. Death Rally for the PC is a top down racer that pits the player against computer opponents to see who can cross the finish line first, alive. Death Rally also supports multiplayer games, up to four players over the internet. While my childhood memories still has RC Pro-Am as the best game of this genre ever, I must say that Death Rally comes in at a close second. Sometimes, games just can’t beat nostalgia.
Some game types just don’t need story lines or well written characters to work. All that matters is that the player has fun with the game and just won’t put it down. Death Rally is that type of game. Sure, there is a story mode here, but it’s fairly inconsequential and is used just to rope all of the races together. You play as a lone wolf driver, who has been captured by the police and forced into the Death Rally tournament. The police are hoping that your entry into Death Rally will expose the organizer, who is only known as The Adversary. The Adversary is your target and you have to eliminate him in order to free yourself from the police.
This story won’t win any awards any time soon for it’s writing or presentation. The style of the presentation seems completely ripped right out of the first Max Payne game, done in graphic novel style. I swear it even looks like the same artist doing the art. I am usually very critical with game writing because I feel that this is the entire basis on whether or not the game draws people in. If we don’t care about the characters or their plight, it’s hard to invest ourselves into the game. Death Rally is the type of game that can get away with very little narrative and overused plot points. Why? Because, in the end, the game is just damn fun to play. Since it was originally made to be an IOs game, it is played in smaller chunks, so the story does not have a huge impact in the player’s enjoyment, if at all.
Death Rally has a surprising amount of depth to it before each race. You start off with the lowest beater of the group, with just a single machine gun to kill your opponents with. As you survive races, you earn money to repair your vehicle and purchase upgrades. During each race break, you can visit the black market, for some illegal upgrades, visit the loan shark to get some extra cash and a one hundred percent interest rate, or visit some shady gentlemen that are not above a little sabotage to help put you in front of your opponents.
The actual races are done from a top down view, very similar to games like RC Pro-Am or Off Road Rally. This gives you a perfect view of all of the action that is taking place and it helps line up your opponents for the kill. As you race, you will expose power ups or parts that you can use either during the game or afterwards. Nitro, ammo, exploding barrels, mushrooms, and the like are used during races to help you get out in front, while other pieces that you pick up helps unlock the next vehicle in line or another weapon.
My only complaint with the game play of Death Rally is the controls. I do not have a control pad on my PC, so it was mouse and keyboard for me. The mouse and keyboard control scheme never felt solid enough to handle the turns in the way I wanted to. A control pad would handle this situation quite well, I believe, but I can see where this game was designed primarily as a touch screen game, and not one to use with the keyboard.
The visuals of the game work very well for me. Each track is extremely interesting to look at, vivid and colorful, while the cars will show varying degrees of damage as the race progresses. The game isn’t cutting edge, and does not have a really well designed aesthetic, like Awesomenauts, but the graphics are clean and interesting to look at. Not once did I have any type of graphical issues during game play, and only a few times did i really notice something that didn’t look right. The pictures of your rival racers are static and just hover near the car that they are driving, with the police chief looking a lot like George Lucas. The graphic novel parts of the game looks exactly like the old Max Payne game, with no motion at all.
Sound is just as serviceable as the graphics are. The voice acting isn’t all that great, it’s a lot over the top. However, there is so little of it that you will never notice it unless you are really searching. The in game sound is just perfect, the explosions sound good while the report of the machine guns sound just as they should. Overall, a solid technical job that won’t win any awards, but also does not detract from the fun experience of Death Rally’s game play.
Death Rally by Remedy is just fun, and at the end of the day, that is really all that matters. Death Rally really takes me back to my child hood days of playing RC Pro-Am with my brother. This is the type of game that doesn’t revolve around a story and does not suffer for it, unlike other games. The fun of Death Rally is really in just blasting the competition into little hunks of metal while you upgrade your car to get to the next stage. Game play is solid for the most part, but I found that the stock keyboard and mouse controls to be fairly deficient in giving me absolute control over my car. The use of a PC control pad, though, should solve that problem right up. The sound and the visuals of Death Rally do a good job, with the visuals being much more tighter and crisper then the sound. Overall, I will recommend this game for anyone who is interested in a racing game that has a lot of extra curricular activity going on during the race, but feel that Mario Kart is a little to young for you. Death Rally is available now from Steam.