Clear your mind for a second, and think of a racing game you’d find on the original PlayStation. Surely, first, for most people, it will be Gran Turismo, the best-selling game, racing or otherwise, on the console. Others may think of arcade classic Ridge Racer Type 4, maybe even Mario Kart-rival Crash Team Racing, or cult favorite Colin McRae Rally. What you won’t think of is Rally Cross – yet Sony has brought it back.
Released back in 1997, Rally Cross was developed by Sony Interactive Studios America. It was an in-house attempt to take on the Sega Rally Championship, which had been a huge success on the Sega Saturn.
Rather than using Castrol-liveried Toyota Celicas and Martini-clad Lancia Deltas to lure the masses in, Rally Cross had to make do with unlicenced cars for its off-road racer. You could take these loosely based takes on contemporary rally cars on a variety of circuits covering various different types of surfaces, as you’d expect from any good rally game.
At the time of its release, Rally Cross was met with a generally favorable reception. An archive of GameRankings.com – now Metacritic – has the game with an 85.4 percent rating based on 10 reviews. IGN gave the title a 7/10, while GameSpot awarded it a 7.7/10.
Reviews at the time praised the game’s variety of courses, more realistic handling than Sega Rally Championship, and inclusion of a four-player split-screen mode. However, it wasn’t without drawbacks – with a reviewer for Next Generation critiquing a steep learning curve and the ease at which cars flipped over.
There was a sequel, too, released in 1998, though the series was never to return.
That was until now, sort of. Rally Cross is available on PlayStation 5 in its original state and playable for no extra cost with a PS Plus Premium subscription. Everyone else will be able to download the title for £7.99/€9.99/$9.99.