As a rule of thumb I try to download the ‘Pick of the Week’ in the iTunes store, as they tend to be high quality, and it gives me the opportunity to always have new apps to play with. Death Rally was a pick a few weeks back — for the iPad – so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Death Rally reminds me a lot of the old Micro Machines console game in that you drive a — seemingly miniature — car around a track from a top-down perspective. The controls are very simple to grasp, with a thumbstick on the left to control your car and a button on the right to fire any ammunition you may have.

Death Rally was developed by Remedy Games, who are currently working on Duke Nukem Forever—Duke even has a cameo in Death Rally as an opponent. It’s a universal title, which is always a bonus, although I’ve been playing mainly on the iPad as the game lends itself to the larger screen.

What’s Macgasmic?

There is a real learning curve to this title. You’re truly thrown in at the deep-end with a low powered car and a poor weapon — the machine gun — which will later stay attached to your vehicle, firing automatically at your opponents once you’ve upgraded to bigger and badder kits.

Admittedly, the learning curve may put some people off as it does make the game feel rather difficult to begin with, but I thoroughly enjoyed this as it gave the title an instant playability—I wanted to get better and beat the sucker!

There is also a great upgrade mechanic in the game. You earn points after each race – depending on where you place and how many opponents you destroy – which you can use to heal any damage you have incurred and to upgrade the speed, handling and shield of your car as well as the power of your weapon. Additionally, you pick up tokens in the game which amass to unlocking other vehicles and weaponry.

The production value of this title is superb. There aren’t a great deal of tracks, but they look stupendous. The cars are really detailed and look great in the environments. The graphics are actually quite staggering and even hold up well on the iPhone’s smaller screen. I am also suitably impressed with the audio in the game—both soundtrack and voice-acting.

The scope of this game is immense—I have literally put hours into it. Even though you’re racing around the same handful of tracks, the diversity of the race types and the weaponry you use makes it feel new every time. Remedy games has already released an update adding additional content to the game – with the promise that even more will be coming in the future – therefore ensuring the game has a long shelf-life.

What’s Not?

As I had previously mentioned, this is a universal game and I have mainly been playing on the iPad. However, I have put some play-time in to the iPhone version. The control scheme doesn’t really work for me here. There’s a lot going on during the race and having your thumb obscure a large portion of the screen doesn’t fit well with the fast-paced, action-packed courses.

Even on the iPad there have been instances where I steer left but end up executing a 180 degree turn. This is not so much a fault of the development but of the restrictions and lack of control that a touchscreen joystick can pose.

We are starting to see more games that are being experimental with the control scheme — building games that are meant for the touch platform — instead of porting a title over and attempting to shoehorn the existing control scheme in.

In all honesty, that is the only criticism I have with the game and it’s not something I particularly blame the developers for. They were doing the best they could with the tools they have.

Conclusion

I would not hesitate to say that Death Rally is probably the best iPad game I have played. It’s beautifully optimized for the iPad 2 and takes full advantage of the additional horsepower.

The price of this game absolutely staggers me. Currently Death Rally — a universal title — will set you back $2.99, which is incredible. This game is of the quality of an Xbox Live Arcade title in my opinion, and would  easily sell for around $15-20 dollars.

Death Rally would be a superb addition to any gamer’s iPad and may even be a great game for your iPhone. Don’t hesitate. Just click the link below and buy it!

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