This next game offers some thrilling Shockwave 3D fun, four-wheeling under the sun in the hot Sahara Desert. The BP Ultimate Rally Challenge is an excellent 3D racing game that delivers an awesome sensation of speed and realistic physics all through the convenience of your browser.
Just hop into your Volkswagon Toureg and buckle-up. Hands on the arrow keys for controls: [left] and [right] for steering, [up] to accelerate, [down] to brake. Press [space] to refuel. Additionally, keys 1-6 allow you to change the camera view, and an options screen available from the main menu allows you to define alternatives to the keys used for control.
To stay fueled you will need to pick up fuel cans along the way, which are indicated by a visible red icon that appears well before you come upon one. You will notice two (2) different types: regular old brown fuel cans (they sort of blend in with the dirt roads), and sparkling white BP Ultimate. Of course the latter will provide you with many more miles to the gallon, so try to pick up these when you see them.
The rally is comprised of three (3) stages: a South European countryside, a steep African ravine, and the Sahara desert. Each stage is roughly 10 kilometers in length and will take about five (5) minutes to complete each one. And while there are other vehicles racing with you on the courses, the rally is about staying fueled and making it safely to the finish line.
Points are accumulated with each meter travelled, and bonus points are awarded for the number of fuel cans picked up and how fast you complete each stage. A high score list keeps track of the best rallyists.
Analysis: I had a lot of fun playing this game. The sensation of speed and realistic physics creates a sense of immersion not often experienced in a browser-based racer. The realism is outstanding for a Shockwave 3D implementation, including believable slipping and sliding that comes with travelling at high speeds and on dirt roads. I especially liked the 2nd stage through the ravine with the many bumps and steep slopes that caused the Toureg to catch lots of air. Also nice were the subtle details of the tire tracks and dust being stirred up behind while moving.
The rally aspect of the game play works very well for anyone who just wants to drive and not worry about having to maintain first place all the time. It is also an excellent tie-in for the advertiser's product placement and makes the refueling concept highly relevant to the game play.
On the downside, there are several issues that are noticeable and impact the user experience only marginally. The game's sound contains audible clicking throughout, and yet this is likely due to Director's relatively poor sound support by today's standards. Seams in the skyboxes are visible which can be somewhat distracting depending on your view. The physics for collision reactions could stand some refinement, as colliding at some angles, and with smaller vehicles, appears unrealistic.
Still, those are relatively minor considering the game was created for Shockwave 3D, a technology that was initially released in early 2001 and been given only marginal improvements since. The game ran fast and furious on my Mac Powerbook G4, which isn't the speed demon that sometimes I'd like it to be; and no visible drops in frame rate were observed. BP Ultimate Rally Challenge is excellent 3D racing fun for everyone. Click.
Created by Ben Pitt and friends at Skive Creative in the UK, which, by the way, is looking for game makers to join their collective. And yes, he's the same Ben Pitt that created RobotDuck's Yard Invaders reviewed here a couple of days ago. Besides being a talented game developer he is also a very busy guy, which stands to reason. =)