Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Cro-Mag Rally

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Electronic Theatre ImageIt seems that these days there are only three types of racing videogame: arcade, simulation and kart. This blanket statement is the common perception of the industry’s output, but this isn’t always the case, with Codemasters’ DiRT series being a perfect showcase of just how much variety can be delivered from the simple premise of revving engines and screeching tyres. Cro-Mag Rally however, is not the exception to the rule. There is only one goal Cro-Mag Rally has: to provide a Mario Kart for formats which don’t already have their own version of the beloved series.

Sadly, Cro-Mag Rally is no substitute for Mario Kart, nor any other modern, successful kart racing videogame. Having begun life as a title designed for the underrepresented Mac format Cro-Mag Rally was welcomed with little comparison, but that was back in 2008. In the years since the remarkable success of smartphonesElectronic Theatre Image as gaming platforms has seen many competing titles come about, from new intellectual properties to repurposed franchises, and Cro-Mag Rally ends up sitting at the bottom of the pile.

There is no campaign in Cro-Mag Rally; no GP or structure offered to the single player. Instead, there’s simply a series of nine races with ten vehicles to choose from, and either a male or female driver. Taking to the courses in different vehicles will have a significant impact on your play style, though the choice of sex for your driver seems largely irrelevant. The tracks offer a great deal of variety in their setting, though once the basics of handling and weapon usage have been acquired it’s not until the last track that players will be challenged to learn more. Cro-Mag Rally is a very easy videogame to say the least, even on its ‘Hard’ difficulty setting.

Beyond the core single-player gameplay Cro-Mag Rally offers the Gather mode, which is also single-player only. Each track hides eight spearheads to collect during each race, however there is no reward for doing so; this is a simply a ‘do for doing’s sake’ gameplay design. Furthermore, although personal pride may encourage you to compete for the first place finish while gathering all the spearheads, there is nothing forcing you to: it’s entirely possible to drive the entire track backwards while collecting to still earn a victory. Simply put, Cro-Mag Rally has two gameplay modes, neither of which provides any challenge whatsoever.

As you may have noticed, so far Electronic Theatre has only discussed the single-player mode of Cro-Mag Rally. But of course, that’s because there is no multiplayer component at all: there is no competitive gameplay, direct or indirect, no time trials and no online leaderboard. Despite having access to what is commonlyElectronic Theatre Image considered the best online network in the videogames industry, Cro-Mag Rally decided to avoid online aspects of any kind (bar the obligatory Achievements, of course).

Despite the lack of redeemable gameplay design, Cro-Mag Rally doesn’t offer anything in the way of technical clout. It’s poor draw distance and basic textures do little to hide its low polygon count. Cro-Mag Rally is clearly inferior to even the earliest titles on Nintendo DS, and far behind many competing titles on mobile formats. Even worse is the sound quality, which offers basic effects and nothing more than an irritating chip tune inspired soundtrack.

While still comparatively infant compared to both iOS and Android formats, the Windows Phone 7 OS has been blessed with strength in its racing videogame line-up perhaps more than any other genre. It may not hold a candle to the selection of quality titles available for videogame dedicated devices, but the ingenuity shown in rival titles makes Cro-Mag Rally nothing more than utterly ignorable. Quite simply, Cro-Mag Rally is a less than average racing videogame on any format, but when positioned on a marketplace next to the likes of Need for Speed: Undercover and the groundbreaking Hydro Thunder GO, no matter what extra coating Citizen 12 Studio had applied they were never going to achieve the goals set out for them.

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