I have good news, and I have bad news. Then, I have worse news.
Let's begin on a positive note: 2XL TrophyLite Rally, from off-road racing specialist 2XL Games, is gorgeous.
Detailed mountain backdrops and stunning sandy vistas sweep smoothly into view, complemented by neat graphical flourishes like lens flares, shingles, and dust trails.
The beauty of the American south west desert serves to distract you from the bad news: lacklustre gameplay made worse by technical instability that renders the game practically unplayable on any other handset aside from an iPhone 4.You versus the clock
Rally isn't concerned with circuits and overtaking competitors. Instead, it's all about time trials, stages, and staggered starts. Your opponents are the clock, the terrain, an occasional backmarker, and, if available, a chum over Bluetooth or local wi-fi.
To overcome these obstacles, a co-driver is assigned, whose audible pace notes, in conjunction with visual road cues, prepare you for all manner of hairpins, crests, and intermediate turns.
Progress is monitored via checkpoints and a horizontal bar across the top, which tracks your relative temporal 'position' in the race standings.
Careering round the five courses' hairpins is enjoyable and exhilarating at first, the sensation of speed heightened by the optional bumper and bonnet camera views and the loose, arcade handling.Tilt and tap
Once you've mastered the stock tilt or virtual wheel controls - auto throttle and steering sensitivity can be toggled and adjusted - after a minute or so, you're sure to be disappointed by the game's lack of depth, replayability, and challenge.
Starting with the Amateur Career mode, progression through the 15 races - repeated on the same five courses - is painfully linear. Your only reward for completing one race is yet another bout of power-sliding in almost identical surroundings and a potential upgrade to your truck's top speed or acceleration.
No further customisation is available, sadly. General boosts to speed and acceleration are possible, sure. In rally, though, much of the joy is in tinkering with your vehicle for optimal performance... and that's missing here.
Even worse, since there's no discernible difference between the 31 vehicles on offer (all curiously unlocked from the outset) there are few incentives to replay a level or even continue your career into Semi Pro.No custom alloys
When you can finish on the podium without investing much effort or paying attention to precision, it's difficult to really motivate yourself to play 2XL TrophyLite Rally.
Adverse, or indeed any, weather conditions are conspicuous by their absence, too, as is any kind of rebounding effect after landing from a height, confirming the arcade over simulation preferences of the game's maker.
One final note of caution: for those of you unlucky enough to download 2XL TrophyLite Rally onto an iPhone 3G running iOS 4, the experience is nothing short of infuriating and depressing. With more bugs than an FBI investigation team, the performance, UI, and reliability suffer terminally.
Even when played on an iPhone 4 or iPad, 2XL TrophyLite Rally just isn't fun. While 2XL TrophyLite Rally has many good qualities, it's ultimately not a challenge, and so it doesn't hold your interest.