Back in January we learned that Remedy Entertainment, developers of Max Payne and Alan Wake, would be resurrecting their first ever PC game Death Rally for an iOS remake. Today, that new version of Death Rally [$4.99] went live in the App Store. I never played Death Rally when it came out in 1996, so my opinion of this remade version won’t be colored with knowledge of the original. Approaching it as strictly a new iOS title, Death Rally is one of the finest top-down racers in the App Store. Death Rally isn’t perfect mind you, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous title with satisfying combat-heavy racing and an engaging upgrade system.

The thing that sets Death Rally apart from most racers is its focus on combat. Each vehicle is equipped with a standard machine gun and a second stronger weapon of your choosing. These weapons, along with the vehicles beyond the first one, are unlocked by collecting items spread along the track while you’re racing. Money is earned with every race you enter, with more money awarded based on what place you finish, how many cars you destroy, and other performance factors. Your winnings go towards upgrading the 5 available vehicles in the game in the areas of speed, handling, armor, and weapons.

Upgrading your cars and equipment is the real hook of Death Rally, and I was constantly wanting to play just one more race so I could fill up some more of my upgrade bars. The combat is also very satisfying, and there’s nothing better than blowing the snot out of the car ahead of you in order to surpass them and win a race at the last moment. Controlling your vehicle is slightly awkward at first. A virtual control stick is used for both acceleration and turning, and there is no brake button. This isn’t really necessary due to the arcade nature of the gameplay, but it caught me off guard at first. After just a few minutes though, I quickly warmed up to the controls and actually grew to really like them.

Death Rally offers 5 different tracks to race on, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but the game does a good job of maximizing the variety in them. Each track has a reversed version, a rotated version, and a combination of both providing 20 variations of the same 5 courses. There are also several types of race variations, and in a clever design move you always have 6 races to choose from, with those 6 options refreshing after each race. This ensures that there’s always something interesting to choose from in addition to the standard 6 vehicle race.

The highlight of Death Rally is the fantastic visuals, with support for Retina Display devices and full screen anti-aliasing on the iPad 2. The levels are incredibly detailed, as are the vehicle models which display damage during the course of a race. When a race is finished you’ll get a close up view of your damaged vehicle in your garage and can watch it morph back to life when you repair it using your winnings, which is a cool effect. The visuals are made all the better by running at a rock solid frame rate throughout the game.

It will take about 6-8 hours to play through everything in Death Rally, but once finished there’s not really a reason to come back unless you’re compelled to earn the 50+ achievements or improve your lap times on the Game Center leaderboards. More tracks, vehicles, and a multiplayer mode would greatly extend the experience, and Remedy has said that these things are all planned for future updates. For an initial release though, Death Rally still contains a good amount of content, and it’s a ton of fun to play through. There are a lot more positive impressions in our forums, and those looking for an action packed top-down racer would do well to check out Death Rally.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Anonymous

    rip off

    • Gordon Little

      How is this a ripoff? It's a remake of their own DOS game from the 1990's!

      • Tom - mooedia

        I wonder whether its because its not the usual 59p entry level price tag? It seems these days people expect something for nothing!

        The price point is spot on, coupled with the fact its universal.

        Thumbs up from me!

      • Gordon Little

        Ah, interesting! I assumed Dino meant ripoff as in "they ripped off someone else's game / idea" not that the cost was too much. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        yep i meant it wasn't 59p!

      • Anonymous

        You are so cheap, you know that?

      • TKO

        Yeah, that's sounding real real cheap. A game of this quality shouldn't be selling for just a dollar. ..anyone who can't be bothered plonking down another two or three bucks on something this good is gonna miss out on a lot of quality iOS titles.

        Imagine how much you'd be paying for it on any other platform?

  • Anonymous

    Hurray!! Downloading now. Can't wait for multiplayer to bring back the memories.

  • Guest

    Amazing game and very smooth even on my 3GS! I love the tons of achievements in this one! My favourite: "Sad day for donuts".

  • Swinguy

    Why is the Mighty Eagle from Angry Birds in the trailer?????

  • Marto Tonev

    The game doesn't supports iPod touch 2G *sad*

  • Tom - mooedia

    The controls get a right ol'slating in the reviews of the game.

    What do you guys think?

    • Jay

      The review here reads more like an advertisement than a review of the actual gameplay, so thanks for asking a good question.
      This review is basically,"Death Rally is really pretty and features [marketing bulletpoints]. Go get it!" instead of digging a little deeper and discussing the actual gameplay and controls in a meaningful way.
      For something that's $4.99, an ad-style "review" isn't going to cut it.
      Been noticing it more reviews here are glossing over IAP, regurgitating marketing content, embedding a YouTube video advertisement "trailer" for the game instead of hands-on playtime that gives us a better feel for what it's like to actually play it. Seeing more hype, less content.
      Also, considering Mountain Sheep did this and they've proven with Minigore that they're more interested in visuals than gameplay content, I'd need even more convincing before dropping $4.99 on this with the potential to find out it's another Minigore where you get a bunch of player models and not much else (in the case of Minigore it's essentially two maps, one game mode, and extremely minimal replay value, but hey look you can purchase more character models wheee!).
      Here's hoping it's significantly better than that.

      • Godfrey

        You are forgetting game is also developed by Cornfox & Bros. and Remedy. What I've played so far game takes the fun and quality of Minigore but runs to a different direction from it. Instead of one long battle game is played in small minute long cycles and it has campaign and RPG elements.

  • Eric Ma

    I'm sad that there are separate iPhone and iPad versions. Oh well.

    • Guest

      Death Rally is Universal App. I have it on my 3GS and iPad2.

    • Mrsmartiepants

      there arent.....

    • Mrsmartiepants

      there arent.....

  • Andrzej Raczynski

    wasn't one of the editors from here just ragging on this game a few weeks ago?

    • Anonymous

      'Twas Brad. This is Jared.

  • Nah

    Absolutely awful controls, hardly playable.

    • Grepochris

      Controls ruined this for me - big thumbs down on what shoud've been amazing 🙁

      • Anonymous

        go buy a nintendo ds little baby

      • Anonymous

        I thought $5 games were too expensive for you, let alone $40 ones for the DS...

    • Anonymous

      I usually don't like virtual controls all that much but the stick seems to be very responsive for me. I played for two hours without realizing it. Addicting gameplay for sure.

      • Anonymous

        My feelings EXACTLY.

    • MetalHeaded

      The controls do take awhile to get use to. It would've been nice if they had of included the option for the more traditional control scheme for top down racers.

  • Awesome

    Awesome game, though playing it for first time ever playing Death Rally named game, i though cop chasing would be big(ger) part of game D:

  • Tom - mooedia

    Games ok but the controls do get in the way and spoil it for me. Im hoping a better control scheme will come out as otherwise the game looks and plays well.

    Will be keeping my eye out for an update on this one. Will persevere with the controls for now.

  • Mrsmartiepants

    I'd like to point out that the controls in this game are actually meant to start off rough and then get more polished as you progress.

    There is an upgradable stat called "Handling" that proves this. If you upgrade this you suddenly have much more desirable controls. Don't be so fast to hate on this until you do a little research. Is it a smart move for them? Maybe not if it causes people to think they coded it poorly. They might have overestimated the general public.

    • Allan Lee

      I noticed this too and it ended up being the first thing I upgraded all the way, made it a much more enjoyable game.

      Now I'm wondering if a lot of those little games I bought, played for 5 minutes and then deleted had some kind of upgrade hidden away that would make them play the way they should "out of the box".

  • Arkm

    If only there were a Carmageddon for the iPad...

  • WildWayz

    OMG Carmageddon would be ACE but with humans, not zombies 🙂

  • Cim

    It's a fun little game but I can't help but think that the original was better. I don't get why they felt the need to throw all the powerups into crates that you have to shoot open as it only adds frustration.

    The game is also extremly zoomed in, obviously because it's made for a smaller screen, but it's so much that it forces you to memorize the tracks to even have a chance. It also makes it nearly impossible to see, target and take out a box on purpose.

    There's lot of other minor things that's missing as well... you had full control of when you wanted to use nitro in the old one for example. No bystanders to run over either (it is DEATH rally after all 😉 ). Controls are ok for me, they did take quite some getting used to though and the game on it's own merits are solid, original was far better though.

  • Dave

    How does it look and play on the iPad 1 compared to the iPad 2?

    I get worried when all the reviews now say it looks gorgeous on the iPad 2, implying that it looks different than the iPad 2.

    I wish touch arcade would remember that they still have far more readers with an iPad 1 than an iPad 2!!

  • Spunker

    looks just like hmm that other game ive got on my ipad top down racer like this with online multiplayer and other modes. whats it called, hmm cant remember. im sure some of you have it aswell, there is a delivery mini game that's kool.

    reckless racing! maybe. not sure i don't have my ipad here but looks like a version of that with no multiplayer. dont think il purchase that, plus the controls seems dodgy why not use reckless racing control system, that works perfectly.

  • Godfrey

    I think Death Rally has extremely simple controls that work very well if you think what's happening on screen! You just point the direction you want your car to go and within split of a second, car goes that way.

    Emphasis of the game is divided between racing and battle, so point-to-direct controls are a must. I would imagine Reckless Racing controls would make shooting and aiming a pain - and player would be distracted from fighting.

    Thanks for a great game Remedy!

  • Dan007

    Imagine if they somehow ported the original Max Payne! Now THAT would've been one of the best games EVER on iOS. And I think controls could be spot on too! Look at Dead to Rights on the PSP (bad example i know but there's no other :D)

  • dension targetseo

    Bought the game for my ipod, played it and found it wonderful. It's amazing game with great sound system and controls.
    iPod Car

  • Ari Krawitz

    I got this game on a sale & played it until I'd maxed (almost) all cars.  Didn't take as long as you might think.  I craved a map b/c certain tracks were quite challenging, but all worked out ok.  I'd give it a solid 4.5 stars.  Driving games can be boring -- this one isn't.  Controls were more of a challenge for first 5-10 min's.  Harder was learning the race tracks.

  • April Emigh

    Should rereview.... gotta pay for half the stuff....

Death Rally Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 5