SEGA Rally Online Arcade

3-2-1, GOOOO!

SEGA Rally Online Arcade takes us back to a long forgotten era in the racing game genre, but is it really worth the trip down memory lane?
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: June 24, 2011
SEGA Rally Online Arcade is a bit of an underwhelming experience. It'll take you no more than a half-hour or so to have seen almost everything there is in the game, and that's not very much content even for a downloadable title. You'll have played all the way through every single mode you can access from the main menu, and the only thing that remains is the incentive to beat the admittedly rather challenging AI on all stages with all cars, thus unlocking the remaining two tracks and handful of special cars the game offers.

There are four main modes to choose from in single-player; championship, quick race, time attack and classic. All modes are essentially a single race (championship is technically a three stage race spread out over three tracks – plus a bonus track if you come in first), and there is very little reason for you to keep coming back – unless you're the competitive type who likes to obsess over lap times and online leaderboards.

In case you've never played a SEGA Rally game before, you're probably wondering what the actual racing feels like. If you're expecting it to be anything like the recently released DiRT 3, then you've let the “rally” in the title confuse you. Both games feature rally cars which tend to quickly accumulate a thick layer of mud and dirt on their initially so shiny finish while leaving pretty looking skid marks in the game's mud-, sand- and snow-covered grounds, but that's pretty much all there is when it comes to similarities.

Cars in SEGA Rally Online Arcade feel more like hovercrafts with wheels than actual cars, but that's something you'll quickly get used to – or not. Your enjoyment of the game really comes down to your willingness to find appreciation in its lack of real world physics and its emphasize on arcade gameplay.

In a way the game looks like it plays. Cars lack any kind of damage model, and flipping them over or making them fly off a track is literally impossible. Tracks, and the typical SEGA blue-skied environments they are set in are rather pretty for a downloadable title, and especially the track deformation and mud effects on the cars are kind of neat, yet nothing we haven't seen done before more impressively at the beginning of this console generation's cycle. It probably won't surprise you that fighter jets, 747s and helicopters regularly circle the tracks in typical arcade-racetrack fashion.

SEGA Rally Online Arcade features both single- and multiplayer (online and offline), but unfortunately the online multiplayer seems broken, which may be why we found the servers to be completely vacant. We unsuccessfully tried finding people online on multiple different occasions, and when we had two of us attempt to connect to each other, the game gave us a timeout error. So much for the “online” in the title.

When it all comes down to it, SEGA Rally Online Arcade isn't a bad game, and even the broken online portion didn't detract much from the addiction to perfect those lap times that sets in after only a few races, but there's just so little content here that unless you're a hardcore fan of classic SEGA Rally, there are many better options available on the PlayStation Network to invest $10 into.
The Verdict

Nostalgia can be a powerful emotion, but as SEGA Rally Online Arcade proves, solely building a game around our human desire to treasure past memories doesn't necessarily make it great.


The tracks are all taken straight from previous entries in the series, but even if the game isn't the prettiest out there, the graphics certainly have a nostalgic charme to it that's coated in updated HD glossines.


If you're a fan of the series you'll certainly appreciate its music and announcer, but most everyone else will likely be annoyed rather quickly.


The controls do their job well, and there's even PlayStation Move support, which however is more of a useless gimmick than anything else. If you own a wheel, the game has you covered.


The online portion seems broken, and the game only features five tracks and a handful of unlockable cars, but battling the challenging AI head-to-head is still a lot of fun at times. Just don't expect this game to keep you interested for very long.