Developer Remedy Entertainment may not have had smash successes with its Max Payne series or Alan Wake last year, but a good 15 years before anyone heard of the company, it made a little game called Death Rally for a mythical old operating system called MS-DOS. Death Rally was in many ways a forerunner to a classic, but often forgotten, SNES game titled Rock N' Roll Racing by Rare: A "CarPG," if you will, where races double as all-out battles, and the last driver standing can use his or her winnings to improve their vehicle or invest in a new one. Death Rally differs from Rock N' Roll Racing in two critical ways: There's a stronger emphasis on the criminal underworld, and it's now available on iOS.
This isn't just a lazy port, though. Death Rally's look and feel have both been retooled in the garage considerably, and its minute- to two-minute death matches are perfectly suited to playing whenever you have some time to kill. Remedy – and its collaborators Mountain Sheep and Cornfox & Bros – is promising other incentives to plunk down a portrait of Arbaham Lincoln on this, as new drivers like Duke Nukem and new tracks, guns, and cars will be available via free updates. Even without that bonus content, though, there's still plenty in Death Rally that's worth taking for a test drive.
The loose plot at work here is you're a small-time criminal who's agreed to work with the cops to lure an infinitely more dangerous crook out of hiding and into one of these morally questionable races. To do this, you'll need to win races, which increases your notoriety. That won't happen for quite a while, though, as you start off with what's essentially a floppy jalopy that can barely corner. In time, though, you'll be able to upgrade to better weapons like shotguns or upgrades like land mines, and claw your way to first place because all the other drivers have been murdered by your unchecked road rage. Sure, some of the tracks are repeated over and over again, and the action doesn't change up too drastically, but it works. Hell, it worked in 1996, and it still works in 2011.
Apr 5, 2011