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Top Gear Rally

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Reviewed by Bryan Heitkotter This review is based upon a 3-day rental of Top Gear Rally. Some may feel this is not enough time to formulate an accurate opinion the whole game, but I played it nearly non-stop for those three days so I think I have a good idea what TGR is about. On with the review! The first thing I noticed right away when I started TGR up, was that the menu graphics were amazingly crisp and clear. Some people may think menus are unimportant but I think they can be a nice touch if done well. The menus are very impressive, they really look like they're on a high resolution. Well enough about this, on to the meat of the game!


THIS is the kind of graphical wonder we were promised by Project Reality! The cars have a decent amount of polygons, but the tracks are absolutely gorgeous. Frame rates are continuously high, with very little slowdown. At times this game looks almost as good as an arcade game. Textures are smooth but not the least bit blurry, and surfaces look nearly real. Weather effects are nicely done, however rain makes it almost impossible to see very far in front of you. The fog in this game is about as much fogging as there are normally in other games. When you select "Sunny" for a race, there is no fogging whatsoever. Pop-up? What pop-up? There is only one spot where I could find it, and even then it was hardly noticeable. Another plus is that there is not a hint of clipping. The animation of the wheels on the cars is exceptionally good. Graphically, TGR excels like no other game on N64. This gets a perfect score of 5.0.


Most of the sounds are very good and they fit the circumstance well. But when two cars come in contact you hear this cheap "clack" which really is pathetic. Overall, though, the sounds in this game are superb. The music is decent. The quality of the music is some of the best I've heard on N64 (almost as good as Tetrisphere), and the tunes themselves are somewhat catchy. My only gripe about the music is that there is a serious lack of bass, in fact there is none to speak of. This aspect of TGR would get a perfect score if it wasn't for the cheap "clack" when cars collide. So instead the sound gets a score of 4.5.


This game offers a wide variety of controller configurations, as well as handling options for your car. Each car has Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 steering, which is a range from sluggish-response (Type 1) to ultra-sensitive-response (Type 3). I find Type 2 to be the best, because with it it is relatively easy to keep your car going in a straight line, and it also offers responsive handling. Some people will find that the cars are impossible to control, but not me. I have a lot of experience with racing, so I know how to keep my car under control. It took me only about 5 minutes to master the controls. If someone does not understand the concepts of drifting and/or opposite lock then they will probably have a difficult time with this game. This is more of a simulator than an arcade racing game, and I believe it excels at being a sim. I think that the reason some people say TGR is crap is because they are not the type who would enjoy a sim anyway, and they do not posses the skills and/or experience to do well with the exacting physics model in this game. This is just my opinion, though. My email address is at the bottom of this review, feel free to write me with your comments. But back to the review. Top Gear Rally's control does what it set out to do very well. Sometimes, though, it can feel like you're racing on the moon because the gravity is too low. I'll give TGR a 4.8 for control.


The thing that really impresses me about TGR is the way the cars interact with the road surface. It's simply amazing. You can really feel the difference when the road surface changes. I can't stress enough how good this part of the game really is. It just has to be played to be believed. The way the cars interact with each other is a different story, however. Crash detection is poor, and the "clack" sound made when two cars collide is even worse. This part of the game really could have used a lot more tweaking. The tracks are well-designed and fun, but some of them are a bit too long. The difficulty level of TGR is right on. It starts out easy so you can learn to control the rally cars. Then with each season it becomes progressively more difficult as you learn to control faster cars. Then it throws in mirrored tracks and even faster cars to keep you on your toes. One serious drawback is that you never see more than three cars (including your own) on the screen at any time. This reduces the amount of action in the game, unfortunately. Gameplay could be a lot better but it is hurt by some drawbacks. I give this part a score of 3.8.


This is where the game lacks. The 2-player mode is pretty boring unless you are racing against someone whose driving skills are similar to yours. I would gladly have had TGR take a hit in graphic beauty if it could have had a 4-player mode and/or a 2 player mode with some computer opponents. Unfortunately, TGR is best played as a 1-player game. Even then it will probably get old after you beat it (if you're good enough to). This is just my prediction, as I only had TGR 3 days and got only as far as gaining access to the Milk Truck. So I can't offer a 100% accurate review in the Lastability section. I can only predict. I will give this an uncertain 2.5.


Top Gear Rally has enormous potential. Parts of this game feel like they've been meticulously crafted; others seem slapped together at the last minute. Thank goodness, though, that the Top Gear series has come out of it's downhill slide. If Boss decides to make a sequel to TGR, they already have a superb physics model to start with, they need only to tweak the gravity and crash detection and they will have made it perfect. Throw in better music and more cars/tracks, and a more exciting multiplayer mode, and they will have the ultimate racing game on their hands. Boss, you listening?

Overall 4.2 out of 5.0

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