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GeneRally 2 Early Access review: simple but effective

GeneRally 2 is a top-down racing game that builds on the early noughties indie hit GeneRally. The original’s simple controls and intuitive handling quickly made it a cult hit with the burgeoning online esports community, with a top-notch track editor to keep the racing experience fresh.

The sequel aims to provide similarly simple racing fun, but with updated graphics, physics, and expanded features. The track editor also remains, with Steam Workshop support promised from the start, allowing players to download and share custom tracks with the click of a button.

To clarify; The build we used for this review was missing a key feature or two that should be available once the game enters Early Access on May 30th. These include the addition of an Extreme E-style all-electric buggy vehicle; AI car damage and AI pit stops; a fully functional AI racing line tool in the editor and the aforementioned track editor.

New beginnings

After a failed $20,000 Kickstarter in 2014, GeneRally almost never saw a sequel. However, the project has always been under construction and re-emerged publicly last year under the stewardship of Curious Chicken Games and studio head James Burgess.

We tested the demo version of the game back in February and loved the game’s uncomplicated focus and handling, although understandably there was very little content to play with.

It’s a similar story with this Steam Early Access release, as the content is sparse at first glance. There are only four cars: Rally, General, Formula and Classic, but each with very different characteristics.

The rally car has 4 wheel drive and is best suited for off-road racing. The General is a classic rear-wheel drive formula car with lots of power. The Classic is a historic mini clone with front-wheel drive and the Formula is a super-fast single-seater with plenty of downforce.

The Classic and Rallye cars are obvious starting points for those unfamiliar with GeneRally. The Classic can be driven flat out on virtually all but the tightest corners and provides a gentle introduction to the game’s driving mechanics.

Simple plan

You only need to remember a few buttons: left and right taps on your gamepad control your car; The left and right triggers are the brakes and throttle, respectively. There’s a reset button in case you get stuck in the scenery, and that’s it – GeneRally 2 is phenomenally easy to pick up and play.

For now, you can only race up to seven customizable AI cars offline by choosing the race tracks and race length. You can also enable fuel consumption, tire wear and damage, but that seems a bit unfair as these features haven’t been implemented for your AI opponents yet.

If you choose to race solo, you will compete against your ghost delta. This is a solid black avatar of your best lap and can’t be turned off, making it less of a training tool and more of a distracting nuisance.

GeneRally 2

And practice is something you’ll need, as the game’s handling model is difficult to master – especially with the faster General and Formula cars. But with many tracks offering lap times under 10 seconds, you can pack in a lot of track knowledge in a short amount of time.

The quickest way to negotiate corners is to match your speed beforehand, choose your turn-in point and put in some locking power. Making mid-corner adjustments will reduce your car’s speed and handling, but some vehicles – notably the Rally Car – are more responsive to aggressive skids.

This stems from the game’s physics model, which aims to accurately represent different powertrains, meaning that corner braking works better with the front-wheel drive Classic than with the racy rear-wheel drive Formula car.

GeneRally 2

Track down the ghost

It’s not just the cars that are more complex than you might think at first glance, but also the circuits. GeneRally 2 currently only has 10 tracks, supplemented by four classic tracks from the original game. Of course, the Steam Workshop functionality expands the title list exponentially, which is a relief.

The tracks themselves are colorful and characterful, with snow, dirt and tarmac surfaces. However, each title is displayed in its entirety on the screen at all times; This is fine for local multiplayer racing on smaller tracks, but it’s difficult to see your car’s orientation on larger tracks.

And some elements of the course design also impede the action, with larger tracks blocking your view. If there were a way to make trackside objects invisible when your car approaches it would be a tidier solution – top-down racing rival Circuit Superstars does a great job on this.

GeneRally 2

elevation

Another gripe is that it’s difficult to see elevation changes. Occasionally I would find myself launching into a corner at high speed, confident that the car would get stuck, but then surprised as an unseen crest made it appear to be accelerating towards the guard rails.

The cars are very prone to spinning out of control when the ground rises or falls, causing endless frustration on first attempts. And this effect is amplified when the view is zoomed out. A choice of different camera angles can help in this situation, but it does mean that the game strays further from the spirit of the original.

GeneRally 2

That’s why practice is the key to success: you need to know every inch of a track to make sure the car does what you want, when you want it. Most of the time it’s a real pleasure to toss the car around and enjoy its heavy handling, but on my first tests the formula car is the least tactile of all.

If you optimistically rush into a turn, the vehicle will not lose speed when turning, but will simply slide into the hedges at a speed of several knots. The effect is less pronounced on the other cars simply because they are slower, but it makes taming the formula car a real test of skill. It also encourages players to drive more tidily; Pep is more important than extravagance.

Interestingly, Curious Chicken Games has abandoned plans for a major overhaul of the physics model, opting instead for a system that provides players with consistent feedback. As such, returning GeneRally players will feel that the sequel shares a lot in common with its predecessor.

New approach

For many GeneRally 2 players, the focus will be on the game’s track editor. While more assets and options are promised for the full game release, there are enough objects to keep any aspiring Hermann Tilke busy.

GeneRally 2’s track editor is also incredibly easy to use, with a few simple mouse clicks separating you from a blank canvas and a colorful environment (my attempt falls far short here, though).

GeneRally 2

Is it worth it?

The release of GeneRally 2 on Steam Early Access gives a glimpse of what we can expect from the full game. What we have here is a challenging, fun and simple racing game with some great features. Driving cars is fun and the interface is clear and concise. Everything just works and there are no frills.

Although more vanilla content (e.g. new cars) will be available with a full release, there’s not much to do offline other than race the same four cars against the AI ​​on the same 14 tracks (although the customizable AI and the championships work). very good).

These are shortcomings, however, which the later addition of online multiplayer and Steam Workshop support should somewhat remedy. And with an install size of less than 200MB, it’s a great game to keep on your hard drive to hop on and off when you have a few minutes.

GeneRally 2

The fully zoomed out view is also a problem when racing in larger environments, as not only is it difficult to see your vehicle’s trajectory, but the topography of the road ahead is difficult to interpret. The way vehicles get a hissing fit when you dare to turn on an up or down hill could also use an overhaul.

GeneRally 2 release date

GeneRally 2 will be released on May 30, 2023 at 11am BST for Steam Early Access priced at EUR 14.99 / $14.99 / £12.99 and is available on Wishlist now. It’s a little pricey given the lack of content, but if you like old-school arcade racing games, GeneRally 2 will fit nicely into your Steam library.

Excited to get your top down arcade racing game with GeneRally 2? Let us know in the comments below.

The Traxion.GG Review's Verdict: Wishlist

developer Strange chicken games
release date May 30, 2023 (Steam Early Access)
Available Platforms PC-Steam)
version tested PC-Steam)
Best to play with it gamepad

Full Disclosure: This game was provided by the publisher for testing purposes. You can find our evaluation guidelines here.

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