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Top Gear Rally

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Reviewed by Scott McCall Top Gear Rally has arguably been the most heavily scrutinized game of the year. No other title has been subject to such an extreme love or hate attitude. Unfortunately, my opinion of it falls under the latter category, and I'm going to tell you why. Even though "Top Gear" is in the game's title, Top Gear Rally really doesn't bare much resemblance to the previous games in the series. In fact, the one feature that put the Top Gear franchise on the map is suspiciously missing: two-player simultaneous racing in the Championship Mode. This is the main reason I don't like the game, but there are other flaws in the general game design that also make the one-player mode unacceptable. Top Gear Rally's Championship Mode is the heart and soul of the game. In theory, this should be one of the best one-player racing games around. In my opinion, however, it falls way short of that distinction. As with too many next generation racing games, the number of tracks (five) is a major shortcoming. Another problem is the imbalance of the cars. The initial cars are so slow and control so horrendously that it's not even funny. I will point out that subsequent cars do get faster and control better, but this flaw in design will turn a lot of people off too soon, myself included. Speaking of control, I even had trouble controlling the later cars. It's so frustrating to keep smacking into walls and to keep getting stuck on them. Yet another problem is that the tracks are too long, or at least it seems this way because of the next problem. The other problem -- and this is a major one -- is that Top Gear Rally is just not exciting. How fun can a racing game be when the cars are so spread out and when a maximum of three cars (you and two CPU cars) can be on the screen at once? Ever since Top Gear Rally was first announced, it has been graphically amazing. The game does look beautiful on-screen, though I'm not as impressed as others. As a matter of fact, all those polygons are why we didn't get a GOOD two-player mode and why many cars cannot be on the screen at the same time. Considering the result, I absolutely believe this is a terrible trade-off. The audio department is another area I disagree with most. While most people think the music is annoying, I think it ranks in the upper half of Nintendo 64 music. The sound effects aren't so good, however. And, by the way, there isn't any voice in the game, which is probably a good thing. Overall, I just did not enjoy Top Gear Rally at all. The lack of a GOOD two-player mode is the main fault, but I couldn't enjoy the one-player mode, either, because of the aforementioned problems. However, this doesn't mean you won't like the game. I can't stress enough that this is one of those games you absolutely have to play for yourself to decide. Do yourself a favor and rent this one before passing judgment.

Graphics: 4.2 out of 5 Sound: 3.6 out of 5 Control: 2.4 out of 5 Gameplay: 2.5 out of 5 Lastability: 2.7 out of 5 Overall: 2.7 out of 5

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