Death Rally [Review]
August 8, 2012
Death Rally. The title alone should tell you exactly what this game is about, but I’ll tell you anyway. In Death Rally you’ll participate in a series of races with cars equipped with different weapons. You can either race your opponents or just blow them away. You can’t place first (or last) if you’re dead. Death Race has a bit of a story to it. In the beginning of the game, you are caught by local law enforcement. Instead of tossing you in jail, they want to use you as bait for a bigger fish: the Adversary. The story isn’t really compelling, but it keeps things moving and the developer doesn’t shove it down your throat so it’s really a non-issue.
The Adversary doesn’t bother with small potatoes, and that’s what you are right now. In order to lure him out, you will need to build your fame in the Death Rally. Every time you complete a race your fame increases. The higher you place and the more death you cause will help push your fame higher. As you become more famous, new story elements will appear until you reach your race with the Adversary. On the way to meeting the Adversary, there will be a lot to do.
There are a bunch of things to unlock in this game. Vehicles, weapons, and tracks need to be unlocked in order to access them. Unlocking is pretty simple. Every time you race there will be various parts you can collect on the track. Some parts are specifically for weapons, other parts are specifically for tracks. In order to get parts for vehicles, you need to destroy other vehicles. Depending on the difficulty of the races you are participating in, sometimes vehicles can be the hardest thing to unlock since you need to work for every kill.
Vehicles and weapons can be upgraded with cash which you obtain by completing milestones, destroying vehicles, winning events, beating lap and track records, and sometimes just by picking it up on tracks as it appears. Cash is your life-blood in this game, and finding ways to get more of it was probably one of the more fun parts of the game. With your cash you can upgrade your vehicles speed, armor, and handling, as well as repairing your vehicle after a race. Each vehicle has a different max for each category, so even after you completely max every vehicle out (called going golden in the game), you’ll still have a reason to switch between them depending on the race.
Weapons can be upgraded as well, and those upgrades typically will upgrade the strength and amount of ammo the weapon comes with. There are different weapons that allow you to play the way you want to play. If you like to kill at a distance, you might want to equip the sniper rifle. But if you enjoy being in the middle of the crowd, up close and personal, you may want to equip the shotgun. There other weapons such as rockets, mines, gatling gun, etc. so there should really be something for everyone here.
Every now and again you’ll get a call from the Shadow Man who will offer you services in exchange for some cash. Sometimes it’s a little, other times it may be up to half your winnings. The Shadow Man will offer you things like temporary access to a weapon you don’t have yet, and then making that weapon very powerful. Also, he can do things like sabotage an opponent for you or give you access to a vehicle you don’t have yet. Sometimes it was definitely worth the investment, at other types I felt like I was robbed. That’s the point I guess.
My biggest problem with the way cash was handled was the fact that you can’t stack it. Once you are finished with a race, you need to use up all of cash before the game will let you continue. So using an upgraded vehicle to get a lot of money, then upgrading another won’t work. Every time you get a new vehicle it’s almost like starting over, causing you to go back to the beginner races which are definitely less fun than the higher difficulty races.
There are a handful of tracks available at first but it doesn’t take long to unlock a new one. After that, the frequency at which I found track parts was a bit scarce, but I there is enough of an initial selection of tracks that I wasn’t begging for a new one. Most tracks look unique, and they definitely are designed in a unique way. The track selection makes you want to upgrade all of your vehicles since some tracks are better suited for speed, others for handling, and some tend to be just brutal. My biggest gripe about the tracks were that while some items appear flat, if you touched them you quickly learned they weren’t and you would stop cold in your tracks.
There is a switch to turn multiplayer on and off. With multiplayer off you will get various difficulties to select for tracks and special events like head-to-head races, or races where anything you shoot turns into money. With multiplayer turned on, any race you start will give other players an opportunity to join you. You can skip this and race the CPU if you like, though. I found that racing online, even with CPU players, gives you more cash in general so it’s a great way to upgrade your vehicle. The down side is that I found that the CPU’s difficulty is static, and it doesn’t take long to start winning every race. So, do you want to have fun, or do you want to get lots of cash? Maybe getting lots of cash is fun to you. For me, if there is no challenge there isn’t any point in playing.
I found myself enjoying Death Rally, but I’m not so sure about the price tag. Don’t get me wrong, at $10 I don’t think it’s overpriced. But for around that price or a little bit more I can get other games that I would consider better, or at least more worth it. I think some additional tracks, additional game modes, and maybe even a more compelling story would have improved the game. On that note, however, I do think that Death Rally is a good game, and if you enjoy top down racers, you should enjoy yourself.
Out Of 5
The graphics are clean and the game runs at a smooth frame rate. Tracks and vehicles look good and provide variety. Nothing we haven’t seen already, though.
Car sounds are a bit generic, but the game music and various sound effects were done nicely. BGM for games like these can get annoying fast, but I did find the music to be enjoyable for the short races it has. Especially for a game that was ported from iOS.
You can play with a mouse or a game pad. Either way the controls were done right. I had zero control issues on either side, so the only person you can blame when you mess up is yourself.
Game play can get a bit repetitive, but with the changing difficulties and special events you run into it’s not overly repetitive. There are a good selection of vehicles and weapons, so players should be able to find a combination that fits them. The cash system seems to be balanced well, and should keep players hungry for more cash, but not starving.
It was a good time, but with more tracks, additional game modes, and a compelling story it could have been better.