In an attempt to further cash in on the success of the South Park cartoon, Acclaim captures an even more faithful experience in South Park Rally as opposed to their original South Park game and definitely more so than the failed South Park: Chef's Luv Shack. However, it is a simple racing go-kart title this time around (similar to Mario Kart 64), with controls that aren't exactly fair to say the least. Although somewhat frustrating, the game is still typical South Park -- outrageously hilarious!
The game's graphics engine borrows from the original South Park with the exception of being faster and a tad bit smoother as well. There's not much to say when it comes to making a 3D version of the flat 2D, cheesy cartoon series, except that it tends to work perfectly for a game like this despite the simple polygons and lack of cool effects. This is obviously done to remain authentic to the show. Although there are some nicely animated power-ups and features, the game could have implemented more racing elements such as a rear view mirror or multiple camera angles.
Speaking of racing elements, all of the different types of races are generally similar to each other: cross all checkpoints, use power-ups against other racers and be the first to finish. There are some degrees of variety such as the Halloween race where you collect candy pieces and drop them off at the candy check before curfew starts. But the others are simple and don't require much thought to win. It's definitely not your typical racing game but, then, it's not intended to be a real racing game. However, the highpoint of this game is the hilarious power-ups!
Some of these power-ups are a little too gross to mention but they all serve a purpose: to slow down your opponents and put yourself ahead. One of the better power-ups is the Underwear Gnomes who seek out players and collect items for you to use. They even sing their little munchkin song! Spooky-Vision is another good one that pops up visions of Saddam Hussein's face to block your view. The most powerful pick-up of all is the Pinkeye that turns all players around and makes their eyes pink and puffy, reducing their reaction time and reversing their steering. Be forewarned though because in addition to the other racers using power-ups on you, most of the "bad" power-ups can affect your own player as well. However, the good items, such as caffeine that increases your speed, are always something to look out for and acquire.
The sound effects have got to be the best part of the game. It's so funny to hear Cartman yell "biotch" and other slightly tame obscenities and how the others (except for Kenny whose voice is muffled) put each other down. Whether you're doing a hard landing or you've wasted someone with a power-up, there's much to hear in this game. But, there could have been even more since most of the talking is from your own player with not too much from the others. There really isn't much music in the game but it's not missed.
Controlling of the game doesn't quite come to grips with reality. The game is just too hard to play due to the mechanics required to turn your player's vehicle. It doesn't even matter if you customize the controls to your liking; you'll find yourself flying and bumping into the wrong places at the wrong time. As well, the handbrake actually hinders gameplay! It takes a while to get used to timing your turns and getting accustomed to the physics as you progress through a slightly disorienting experience.
While South Park Rally has its moments, most racing fans will probably be reluctant to get downright serious with this game, provided they can even muster passing the first race! However, South Park, go-kart and comedy fans will no doubt enjoy the humor and simple gameplay for what it is, "mmm'kay?"
Graphics: The old tried and true original South Park game engine is used and enhanced only slightly in South Park Rally. But the principle remains the same -- authentic South Park mayhem in 3D!
Sound: All of the vocal and ambient effects serve the game well with hilarious antics, phrases and wacky noises that we've all come to love and hate. Music on the other hand is nearly non-existent although it doesn't matter anyhow. At least the introduction theme is here.
Enjoyment: This game is a laugh riot to say the least. The sound bites are original and recorded by all of the show's voice actors. The smooth flow of the game is also quite evident. It deserves some praise for mixing go-kart racing with the South Park theme and characters. The fluidity is better and quicker than Acclaim's original South Park game, and the voices are a must-hear for fans of the cartoon. Unfortunately, controls are about as stinky as Phillip's farts and Mr. Hankey combined!
Replay Value: With the difficult control scheme albeit fast gameplay, you'll be playing this one for the long run -- that is, trying to pass the first race over and over again!
People who downloaded South Park Rally have also downloaded:
South Park, Sonic R, Star Trek: Starfleet Command 2 - Empires at War, Star Trek: Bridge Commander, Star Wars TIE Fighter (Collector's CD-ROM), Sim Theme Park (a.k.a. Theme Park World), Star Wars Episode I: Racer, Richard Burns Rally
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