"Alive and Kickin'"
Playing the remake of Death Rally on PC brings me back to my childhood, and how the transition from MS-DOS based gaming to Windows based PC gaming robbed me of the chance to really sit down and play the game I personally called Apogee (I have the disk in its case to prove it). The little known title from Remedy Entertainment saw a resurgence when it was ported to mobile devices, and now it's back on its original system. It's amazing seeing how well the title has been updated, keeping the feel of the 1996 original, while still feeling modern and enjoyable.
Death Rally is a top-down arcade racer where opponents are given the chance to destroy one another while racing to the finish line. Unlike other racers with aggressive gameplay, when your car is totaled, you are out of the race. This changes the gameplay quite a bit, as players have to worry about their car's condition in addition to winning the race. The title is packed full of different options so players can climb up the ranks as the top driver in the Death Rally. Players are always given a series of events at any given time that can earn them cash to upgrade their available vehicle's stats and to repair damage. Aside from upgrading vehicles from cash earned in them, these events also contain items that must be collected in order to earn newer weapons and vehicles. At times, it’s more to your advantage to attempt to destroy all opponents rather than try to get first place.
Compared to other racers on the market, the controls in Death Rally are pretty simple and work well with a wired Xbox 360 controller or a keyboard. Using the direction keys or pushing the left thumbstick to move in the direction you choose frees up a lot of the thought into maneuvering around tracks, and it allows players to focus on using their weapons. Imagine a version of the GTA series before GTA3, where every car is a fast tank and you have a pretty good idea of the way the game flows.
While the game does offer a lot, it's best played in short bursts due to the amount of tracks available and how long races last. Many events will be over in 3 minutes at the most, and tracks repeat pretty often. While playing, I actually didn't think I was progressing along due to how often they were repeating. Trying to burn through Death Rally in one sitting is something not recommended, and it's really the one trait about the remake that reminds me of the title's mobile origins.
Death Rally looks good, especially the camera are pulled back a bit further than in the original game, allowing a better view of what is happening on the track and where opponents are at. While the story may leave something to be desired, the game's interface does a lot to make the single-player mode feel like you're actually in the multiplayer mode, as cars wrecked stay on the road and some of the opponents in races actually are well-known game journalists (Remedy, I look forward to appearing in the next game!) or characters from other games.
Death Rally is a fun pick-up-and-play downloadable game with quite a bit of replay value and things to do that will keep you entertained for a while. Taking the classic 90s arcade gameplay and fusing it with modern graphics and a few modern gameplay conventions give newcomers and current fans alike a reason to come back.
GameDynamo's Score for Death Rally (PC)
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