Death Rally Hands-On Preview

There’s something missing from games like Real Racing 2 or Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, and that’s firepower. Sure, there’s a thrill in racing into first place, but there’s an equally big thrill to be had from firing a rocket launcher at the guy who’s ahead of you in first place. Death Rally gives action gamers what they want: serious car combat.

Death Rally is a sharp-looking remake of a mid-90s PC game, and it seems right at home on the iPhone and iPad. The action all takes place from a top-down perspective, like in Reckless Racing, but with the added bonus of a ‘fire’ button in the lower right corner. Some guns, like your first pea-shooter, have unlimited ammo, but ammo for bigger guns like shotguns and rocket launchers must be saved for when you need it the most.

Whether you come in first place or not, nearly everything you do on the track will earn you some cash. You’ll earn cash for destroying other cars, collecting power-ups, and beating your rival in each race. A few characters from other games like Duke Nukem and Angry Birds will appear as rivals, as you’ll see in the trailer below.

Instead of having to keep track of dollars and cents, your cash fills up a bar between rounds that can be used to increase your car’s health and stats. You can also collect pieces of cars and weapons to unlock them.

Death Rally looks quite amazing visually, but unfortunately it’ll ship out a bit light on the tracks. There will only be four tracks available at launch, but these will also be reversed, with extra challenges like no weapons or head-to-head races to pad out the gameplay. We should also note that several of the races could be finished in about a minute.

While it’ll take a while to upgrade your car and unlock every item in the game, we’re concerned that the game will start to feel repetitive without more tracks. We’re not sure that the experience will feel brand-new with just a new weapon or car if you’re careening around the same dirt road or industrial park for the twentieth time. New cars, tracks, and features like local multiplayer have been promised as updates after the game launches.

Death Rally is a lot of fun to play, but it’s only going to last a minute or so for each race. If the idea of racing repeatedly on a few gorgeous-looking tracks sounds good to you, this could be a decent purchase when it hits the App Store at the end of the month.

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