GeneRally is a deceptively simple game; but hidden underneath its humble facade is a polished up engine brimming with features.  It’s sad to think that many have probably passed on this one due to its plain and rather unassuming presentation.  But there’s a lot here you can’t get from pictures.  Trust me when I say the screenshots don’t do it justice.  One has to play this game to fully appreciate it.

At first glance you’ll notice this is a minimalist, top-down racing game.  The style is fitting of the name in that you see the entire track all at once and everything takes place within a single screen.  It’s sort of like racing miniature toy cars inside a big square sandbox.  This is a fine arrangement too since this racing game is all about control.  While you can play the game using a keyboard I cannot stress enough the value of plugging in a gamepad for this one.  Due to the controls being so sensitive and subtle it just isn’t a game without it.

Before launching into the first race you’ll need to spend a few minutes creating drivers – including yours, which should be set as ‘human.’  What’s neat is you can customize the color (and style) of your car.  First create your driver, then go back to the main menu and select the driver (adding it to the queue).  From there you can click on the vehicle to change the vehicle type.  It takes a little while to get accustomed to the menus but just take it slow and you’ll get the hang of it.  Now head back to create the computer controlled drivers.  One tip while doing this – don’t set the skill level of these guys higher than 50, or they will leave you in the dust (I recommend a range of 30 to 50).  You might also lower the Game Speed to 70 or so.  Remember, just because the game looks simple doesn’t mean it is.  These little cars have to be handled with skill that will only come with time and practice.  At first you’ll need to get used to the handling.  Then you’ll realize that things like damage, fuel and tire wear all factor in as well…prompting pit stops along the way.  And these are exactly the kinds of details that make this game shine.  If the game played the way it looks it might not be very impressive.  But the fact that the Rabina brothers put so much nuance into every gameplay aspect is a real tribute to their skill and obvious love for racing sims.

In addition to the outstanding gameplay there are also nice extras such as smoke effects from damage and collisions, skid marks that accumulate around turns, neat sound effects and quite humorous pit crews.  By the way, try to avoid hitting the pit weebles if you can.  For career minded racers you can select a whole series of tracks and try to stay in the rankings.  Not an easy task.  The game will even remember lifetime stats for all your drivers.  And if you’re feeling really creative there’s a built in track editor.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find downloadable user-made tracks somewhere out there.  To top it off you get all these features and a thoroughly fun game in a package barely less than 2 MB.

GeneRally is quite simply one of the finest racing games in this style, freeware or otherwise.  But it’s not a ‘pick-up and play’ arcade game, which I’m sure many prefer.  If you’re willing spend some time with it I can almost guarantee the game will grow on you and reveal itself for what it is, a fine piece of work, a whole lot of fun and a genuine tribute to independent game development.

Designer: Hannu Rabina, Jukka Rabina, James Burgess
Type: Original
Genre: Racing Sim
Format: Compression Pack
File Size: 1.3 MB
Control Scheme: Keyboard, Gamepad
Portable: Yes
Version Played: 1.05

Visit the Official Homepage

Published in: on March 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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