Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Death Rally

Review: Death Rally

5:00 PM on 04.06.2011 // Maurice Tan

Ahhh Death Rally, what memories you have given me back in the day. The old Remedy logo, the Apogee splash screen, the fact that it was basically Micro Machines with guns; what wasn't there to like? Now, almost 15 years after the DOS release, Death Rally is back -- on iOS this time.

For the most part, the new Death Rally feels like you would expect. Fast top-down racing with guns, upgradable weapons, and new cars to unlock and upgrade. Death Rally is all about quick races on a short track where the goal appears to be simple at first sight: finish in pole position and destroy your opponents if you can. Thankfully there are a couple of design elements that make it more interesting than that.

Death Rally (iPhone [reviewed]/iPad)
Developers: Mountain Sheep, Remedy Entertainment, Cornfox & Brothers
Publisher: Remedy Entertainment
Released: March 31st, 2011
MSRP: $4.99/€3.99

Racing in Death Rally is a simple matter of pushing a virtual analog stick in the direction you want to go. While the game offers a fixed-orientation camera as a default -- where you just steer your car any way the track takes you -- you can change the camera to be oriented on the car instead. That way, the track just rotates around you as you go. It's an option, but not a recommended one as you'll end up only pushing forwards and moving your thumb to the left and right to steer.

Although there has been some negative feedback on the controls, I found them to be more than serviceable. Because you generally only drive at a fixed top speed -- depending on how much you have upgraded your car -- the key to winning is to learn how to make handbrake turns. Making swift motions to turn your car 90- or 180-degrees results in a small speed boost that gives you an edge over sometimes faster cars.

It would've been nice if you could enlarge the virtual stick because as someone who has pretty big hands and fingers, there was a bit of a learning curve to get the hang of it. Eventually you learn not to just press your thumb down and move it around to control your car, but to shift pressure with your thumb in the direction you want to go. If you don't, your thumb will start to hurt after a while, so don't do that.

Your car will come with a standard machine gun that will automatically fire forwards if there is anything to shoot at. As you progress, you can collect parts throughout races to unlock new weapons and cars. A simple touch button lets you fire special weapons: a gatling gun, shotgun, sniper rifle, mines, and a missile launcher. Within a dozen or so races you also unlock the bumper as a secondary weapon, which lets you do damage by ramming into opponents.

Finishing with a good position, destroying other cars, beating your lap and track record, and destroying a 'boss' yields you money which can be spent on car and weaponry upgrades. A boss is simply a car with a portrait hovering over it, who tends to have the best AI in any race.

The combat makes the races a lot of fun, and every race feels like a new opportunity to fight your way to the finish line. Although the majority of levels come in simple three-lap races, there are additional 'challenge' races that feature things like a race without weapons, a one-lap race, a one-on-one race, a race with set vehicles, or a race with a set weapon type.

While there are only around five race tracks in the game, reverse and 'mixed' tracks add a lot of longevity; you're not likely to learn them all by heart by the time you 'complete' the game.

Gameplay-wise, Death Rally offers fun and brief racing on the go and you can easily find yourself starting just that one additional race because it only takes around a minute to finish it. And before you know it, you've been playing for 30 minutes.

However, some odd design decisions drag the game down. While an iOS game doesn't have to be simplistic or simple by nature, having no manual or tutorial at all is ridiculous. Sure, you race a car around that shoots, how hard can it be? However, the UI is filled with elements that are never properly explained.

For example, you can choose between around 5 races at any time from an elegant menu that shows your car. Going into the Garage to tailor your car and weapon setup is a seamless transition through the menu. And while the choosing your load-out is as simple as it can be, races have a skull icon and a number of blocks that are supposed to indicate the difficulty of a race. Or is it?

Challenges show stars, and though it's easy enough to understand that more stars equal a tougher race, the game never really feels that much more difficult. To top it off, finishing a race gives you an overview of the money you made (by winning, destroying cars, etc.) and shows a multiplier. That can be 1.0x, or 1.5x, or even 3.0x. But what makes the multiplier go up? Killing multiple enemies doesn't seem to change it, and neither does finishing first or last.

I'm all for having 'hardcore' games on iOS, but I shouldn't have to spend half an hour experimenting with things just to find out what causes what. Especially because the UI has been designed to be accessible, as you can read on the game's blog, it's mindboggling that they didn't take the time to just explain the most basic things.

This confusion is only confounded by the game's two progression indicators. 'Progress' shows how far from completion you are, but you have to find out for yourself that this means you have to upgrade every single weapon and car to the maximum level.

'Fame' shows something I still don't even understand. All I know is that if you place last it goes down, and if you place first it goes up. But whether destroying cars or setting new lap records has an effect on it is never explained, so you quickly end up ignoring the Fame meter altogether. Or at least, you'd try if it didn't fill up at a ridiculously slow rate after a race.

While the game could've done with some basic user research to find out if people actually understand what it is they are seeing, it has no detrimental impact on the gameplay experience itself. Death Rally is a lot of fun to play, it looks great, runs smooth, and it's very addictive. Having Duke Nukem appear as a boss with a few signature lines is also a nice throwback to the original game too. But a simple future update like being able to enlarge the virtual stick, or including a manual, would really go a long way for the title; especially for an audience as wide as the Apple app store provides.

As it stands, you'll easily get around 5 hours or more out of the game by simply upgrading everything and having fun while you do it. And even when you 'complete' it, Death Rally doesn't make you feel like you are done playing it. For the price, it's a great game that is polished on many levels that matter, yet strangely lacking in others.



Death Rally - Reviewed by Maurice Tan
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Maurice Tan,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Death Rally

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

NVGR: Updated Album "ADBC" (No longer an EP)

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th November - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Black Friday pick ups so far are Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Titan Souls and tomorrow Devil Survivor 2 Break Record ($29.99 at GameStop).
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
This thanksgiving, give thanks for the fact that your family wasnt 1 of the 3 to have picked out a wasp filled turkey, buying a meal and becoming a meal. Next year, may not bring such.....dissapointing results.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So I'm pretty sure you all should be giving thanks to Nekro. For he is the one true perfect being. Be thankful that your lives have been blessed by the addition of a Nekro. For that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Happy Thanksgiving Dtoid! Here's hoping you didn't fall off a chair while hanging Christmas lights and bash your shin and foot into the concrete like I did!
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
Listening to Pokémon SoulSilver OST while doing some college work. Suddenly I feel a great amount of guilty taking over me for loosing my PokéWalker 2 years ago... :(
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Ok you thanksgiving motherfuckers. 5 favourite Arcade games (as in coin-op) No order necessary. Go!
Lawman avatarLawman
Happy Turkeygeddon everyone! I'd like to spend it playing something, but I'm too busy drinking instead. Alcohol is better. Alcohol mixed with games is best, but unfortunately, I'm a little too lost to the world for that right now!
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I've got to try Pocket God vs. Desert Ashes. Mostly because I loved pocket god when it came out. Great memories
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I intended to say something important and relevant to how pretty Atelier Shallie Plus looks on the Vita but then I got this annoying sudden nosebleed [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Time for Thanksgiving dinner, then more Shantae! [img][/img]
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
So Macy's parade had that performance from "The Wiz" which made me realize I'd much rather have seen "The Wizard" where everyone is dancing around wearing power gloves. Come on Nintendo, THE TIME IS NOW!
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Happy #Darksiders2 day-I mean Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Shinta avatarShinta
Transformers Devastation PS4 - $24. The Order 1886 $10. Digital flash sale on PSN. I think I'm going to have to bite on both these. And I hate digital if I can avoid it ...
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Remember folks, don't forget to smoke cigarettes in between courses during thanksgiving to help in digestion.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
For friends in UK that want a 3DS XL - 99.99 pounds [url][/url]
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Playing New Vegas again because reasons, it occurs to me that it'd be nice if Old World Blues gave me the option to move the Brotherhood of Steel to the Big MT instead of wiping them out for Mr. House.
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Near heart attack as for a minute it seemed like the A button of my 3DS was busted. It's fine now though, I think we'll live.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
There's now a £4/$5 Raspberry Pi. So cheap it's a cover extra on the latest Mag Pi. Based on the original chipset, it's single core but clocked at 1Ghz so it's quite a bit faster and oh so tiny. I can't wait to see what folks build with it.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
After a lifetime of not spending a single cent on FTP games, I finally broke and dropped €1 in the Nintendo Badge Arcade. I just had to have all the Luigi badges asap. I feel dirty. Plus side, my 3ds will be covered in Luigi.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
The postman just brought me gifts i bought for myself ... [img][/img] [img][/img]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -