Death Rally is like a shark tank swimming with piranhas - off-road racing is dangerous enough without adding guns to the mix.
It's just as well, because violence pairs nicely with speed in this top-down car combat game from Finnish developer trio Remedy, Mountain Sheep, and Cornfox & Bros.
Despite issues with the track designs, lack of control options, and missing multiplayer, there's fun to be had unlocking vehicle upgrades and unloading bullets.My way or the highway
The single player-only affair kicks off with a high speed chase. Instead of presenting you with a main menu, the games drops you right into a car and tells you to flee from cops racing through the yellow desert in hot pursuit. It doesn't end well: you're hauled into the local precinct and commissioned to participate in a series of lethal racing events.
In other words, you're forced to race to the death. Starting with a humble Vagabound buggy equipped with a piddly machine gun, you're sent to compete against the elements of the criminal underworld for cash and prizes. By winning races and killing opponents you net cash for upgrading your ride, as well as parts for building new weapons and vehicles.
There's no multiplayer - not even local play via wi-fi or Bluetooth - which is an enormous oversight (promises of a multiplayer update in the near future don't change the fact it's absent in this initial release), but the single-player career is satisfying enough on its own.Loot lust
Unlocking new stuff is at the heart of Death Rally and by far the best aspect of the game. You're constantly acquiring new parts to weapons and vehicles, which motivates you to keep racing in order to unlock the next weapon, or a more powerful car.
Good variety makes these items meaningful, too. Along with your automatic machine gun you can equip a shotgun, Gatling gun, sniper rifle, missiles, and mines. Each new car carries unique stats and upgrade potential.
Better still, cash earnings enable you to improve the performance of your vehicle, as well as boosting the potency of weapons. In turn, this encourages you to obliterate as many competitors as possible, pull off daredevil moves, and win races to gain cash multipliers that boost your pay.Stick shift
The game runs into trouble when it comes to controls and track design, unfortunately. While the default control scheme works decently - virtual analogue stick for steering, button for firing weapons - the absence of alternative configurations is disappointing. Furthermore, there's room for tightening up the handling to make the controls feel more responsive to input.
Also an issue are some of the tracks, where it's common to find yourself stuck on the shoulder of the road or have your view of the action regularly obscured by objects in the foreground.
In the urban track Velodrama, for instance, rail lines running above the streets constantly cut into your line of sight. The same is true of the twisty Refinery track with its network of overhead pipes.
On the other hand, the view is clear in Rift, yet the rocky edges and an aeroplane wing bridge make it easy to get hung up during a race. As such, success requires memorising the intricate tracks (the only exception is The Pit, which is just a giant oval). This type of difficulty gives the game replay value, but it's also annoying.Death Rally delivers thrills, but tightening up the controls and tracks, as well as introducing control options and multiplayer, is needed for this fun, upgrade-happy car combat game to transform from threatening to truly killer.