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SummaryQuite possibly the best damn racing game you'll ever lay your hands on!
The GoodFirst off, I'm surprised! I've never been a real fan of European game design, but the Finnish development house Remedy turned me completely around! Death Rally shows what can be done with a game when you really think about it!
First off, the game itself has a very nice, old school-ish feel, sort of like a violent Micro Machines or a Rock 'n' Roll Racing, both of which sucked up a lot of my time in my youth. The game plays from an overhead view, but it feels right for this game. The gameplay is very wonderfully conceived here; your opponents almost seem to have minds of their own, and actually DO fight with you to cross the finish line! They also try grabbing Power-Ups as they appear, and will even kill each other if need be! Talk about brutal competition!
The game starts you with a little clunker car called the Vagabond, which looks like an old VW Beetle. During the game, you can earn money in the races by finishing in at least 3rd place, or by killing all your opponents on the track, or in some other such "friendly" method (like earning money by making spectators happy). You can put that money towards purchasing upgrades for your car, or saving up a bundle and buying yourself a new car (such as the Porsche-like Wraith, or my favorite, the Deliverator). You can also take out a loan from the Loanshark, but you'd better pay it back within three races, or he'll take it out of your hide (in other words, he could possibly kill you if you don't have his money). There are plenty of other little touches as well, such as *heh heh* the Undergroud Shop, where you can buy weapons for your car, or even sabotage the car of the highest ranking racer in your next race. *sadistic grin*
Now, onto the cosmetics...while I normally don't like all this "rendered" stuff in a lot of my games, Death Rally's rendered graphics definitely make the style, and are very clean and cool looking. Everything is nice and sharp and the movement of the cars is pretty nice looking. The "mushroom" effect (where you grab a mushroom on the track and the screen begins to waver like mad) is cool, if not a little too disorienting. Still, I can't complain...it does look very damn cool to see that.
Sounds and music are both very good indeed. The music is mostly techno and is an excellent compliment to the game, fitting alongside the action very well. The sounds are pretty good, with plenty of engine sounds, gunfire, explosions, and the cool scraping, grinding noise a wrecked car makes as it slams into the sidelines. Nothing to complain about at all here!
The BadNot very much, except for one thing: Why waste all the space on the CD for a protection file when you can just record the music to the CD instead? Apogee just doesn't seem to get the idea that if you're going to distribute your game on a CD in the first place, why not USE that room to enhance the game a little bit? Remedy should've let them know about that.
Another thing that should've been worked on was character customization: all you can enter is a picture, a car color, and a name and that's it. Remedy should've allowed you to customize you characters a bit more.