Game producing, much like film making, can boil down to clichés. Just as an Arnie action film must have at least a dozen excruciatingly crafted unsubtle one-liners and several explosions the size of a city, a rally game must have the following: desert tracks, muddy fields, wet weather, night racing, large ditches, cardboard roadside spectators, over-responsive steering and a barking mad co-driver voice.
And happily, JoWood’s Rally Trophy has all of these compulsory elements – the co-driver in particular seems to have absolutely no marbles, not one. If you get in the lead he shrills about it in an Arnold Rimmer (of Red Dwarf fame) style voice, and if you crash he makes a range of heavily sarcastic comments guaranteed to annoy. “You see the thing between the trees? That’s called the ‘r-o-a-d’… you’ll do better if you point the bonnet at that…” and so on.
Rally Trophy does differ from the accepted norm, however, in that it isn’t about trashing rural beauty spots with turbo-nutter performance Subarus, but rather with classic rally cars. We’re talking beasts from the 60′s and 70′s like the hefty Volvo 122 Amazon and the Lancia Fulvia 1.6 Coupe. This is quite a refreshing and nostalgic change.
However, the game options are pretty much what you’d expect – you can race a single rally, a full championship affair (where your times are kept from stage to stage), or a time trial on a single course. There’s also an arcade mode if you prefer the thrill of actually racing against live opponents (since in a proper rally, you’re usually just against the clock, of course).
Visually it must be said that Rally Trophy is something of a treat. The cars look great, as do the various landscapes, although some courses do look quite similar. Nevertheless, the graphics get top ratings, particularly the superb lighting effects – the only downside is that they can take a toll on the slower PC, and you might experience the odd frame rate jitter on a lower spec machine.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game is the fact that the cars do drive very differently, depending on their engine power, weight and whether they’re front or rear wheel drive. The driving physics feel very realistic – as is the system for tweaking your car’s gears, suspension and so on (although it’s easily enough depicted so you don’t have to be an actual car mechanic to understand it).
And along with this eminently playable single player game is a solid enough multiplayer mode which boasts Gamespy support for up to 6 players. We did experience the odd server connection problem here though and this is about the only negative thing we can find to say about Rally Trophy. Apart from that dumb-arse co-driver, naturally!