Updated: Death Rally Review

Death Rally received an update that adds an icy new track and tweaks a number of gameplay components, mostly for the better. Read on for the details.

To unlock the new track, you actually have to play (and replay) the old tracks a large number of times in order to pick up 25 “pieces” of the new track scattered throughout the rest of the game. This is a cool tactic to keep you playing the game, but because you’ll only find one piece per race, it takes quite a while to assemble them all. Also, there’s no simple way to see how many pieces you still need to gather to unlock the track.

This “collecting pieces” idea expands to the equipment now, too, so you’ll find pieces of new add-ons and weapons as you race through the old environments. Unlocking new equipment, like a striker weapon and a laser pointer add-on, happens much quicker because they require fewer pieces to assemble.

These additions make an already great game even better. Because there’s even more reason to keep playing it now (aside from how much fun the game is on its own), we’re upping our score to a 4 and granting it Must Have status. If you like racing and destruction, buy this game immediately.

Death Rally was recently updated to add a multiplayer mode that lets you race against others on three of the game’s tracks. Normally, multiplayer in a racing game is on our “essential features” mental checklist, but Death Rally gave us so much destructive racing action that we didn’t really miss it before. So is multiplayer as awesome as you might think?

Actually, it turns out that playing with other people isn’t all that different from playing against the computer. Sure, your opponents are a little more unpredictable, but matches still consist of a bunch of cars driving somewhat erratically around a track and shooting at one another. Also, you have to start over with a totally new car when you go into multiplayer mode, so those hours you spent grinding to beef up your guns and armor in single-player mode won’t help you here.

Another issue is that it can take a while for all of the driver slots to fill up once you tap to enter a multiplayer race on a particular map. This obviously depends on how many other players are online, but it might be frustrating for some players. And occasionally the game would stall when we tried to get into a multiplayer match. This problem is easy to back out of, but it seemed like the game would sit there saying “Get ready” forever if we let it.

It’s great to see this top-notch title receive updates, and the online mode will probably appeal to some gamers. But for us, we prefer playing on our own. Our advice? Buy Death Rally, and play it however you want.

Why aren’t there more major vehicular combat games? Traditional racers are fun and all, but adding a destructive element to just about anything makes it better. Death Rally, a drop-dead gorgeous remake of a mid-’90s PC game, gives gamers exactly what they want: An awesome top-down racing game… with missile launchers.

When you first start Death Rally, the game can be a little disheartening. Your car is underpowered and you’re not familiar with the tracks: In short, you’ll lose races. But for each attempt– even if you come in dead last– you earn money. This money can be spent to boost the speed, handling, armor, and firepower of your car. And before you know it, you’ll be a fearsome powerhouse capable of bringing down even the most heavily-armored vehicles.

Unleash the missiles!

One of the many great things about Death Rally is that the races only last about a minute and a half. This makes the game perfect for playing on the go, and it means that you can make measurable progress very quickly. And even though the races don’t last long, they’re very intense. You’re always faced with the choice of whether you want to floor it for first place immediately, or hang back and pick off the racers in front of you.

Anytime you’re close behind another car, the standard gun strapped to the side of your car fires a constant stream of bullets. So if you’re patient, you can pick away at an opponent’s health until the vehicle blows up. Luckily, you also get a choice of stronger limited-use weapons. These include a shotgun, mines, and a missile launcher. There are five special weapons in total, each of which you can pour money into to increase your ammo capacity.

Pimp your ride.

The amount of content is Death Rally’s biggest low point. The game only comes with five tracks and five cars to choose from. You can play the tracks as many times as you want, in whatever order you want, to keep earning money to max out your cars and weapons. Regular races pit you against five AI-controlled opponents, but special challenge races are also available. These include head-to-head races, limited weapon matches, and upstream challenges, in which you and an opponent race going opposite directions around a track.

That’s really all there is to it. There’s no story mode to work through, or tiers of difficulty to unlock, or multiplayer mode. It’s just you and computer-controlled opponents, racing around the same five tracks over and over. Normally this might be a deal-breaker, but the core gameplay in Death Rally– the racing, the combat, the vehicle upgrade system– is so engaging that once we started, we had a hard time stopping. This is a deeply fun game, with a stat-building system that gives you noticeable gameplay rewards constantly.

Death Rally is a game that practically anyone– racing fan or not– will enjoy. The only reason we’re not giving it a Must Have rating is that the amount of content is a little too low: We’d love to see the developers add more maps, cars, and a multiplayer mode. But even as is, we can highly recommend the game. The visuals are eye-popping, the upgrade system is addictive, and the visceral gameplay is second to none. What are you waiting for?

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