If you're not into the earth-saving killing spree that is Halo 3, Sega hope you'll turn to racing cars on dirt tracks with Sega Rally, but is it all that it's cracked up to be? We get driving to find out.

Swish graphics, a plethora of options and a control system that will see you going around the corners sideways for the best performance are just some of the great elements to the game.

What we really like here is the straight into the action attitude not recently found in racing or car games. There is no car to spec, manipulate, contort or customise and because of this you can switch on and be racing in no time at all.

Gameplay is kept simple. Championship, Quick Play, Time Attack and Multiplayer modes are all you get, and it's no bad thing. Once you've selected your car, your country and then the racecourse it's away you go.

Championship mode is the closest you get to a "Career mode" in the traditional sense and the more you play, the more stuff like cars and tracks you unlock.

So what of the racing physics? Well as we said, you'll spend most of your time going sideways as the cars - for the newcomer - are almost impossible to drive.

Of course a couple of laps later and you'll get the hang of it, while seasoned veterans of either previous rally outings or the Project Gotham Racing series will pick it up straight away, don't expect Sega Rally to be easy. It's anything but with Sega making computer opponents unforgiving when it comes to leaving you in the dirt.

However, where the game strikes oil, is in the deformation of the track as you race along it.

Actually taking into account what you do to the track when you drive over it, the car will churn up the gravel, melt the snow or shift mud, not in your favour.

This obviously comes into play later on as what was once a snow covered track reveals Tarmac, allowing you to go faster while mud grooves later become a hinderance as you get bogged down and loose speed.

The feature is a brilliant feather is Sega Rally's cap and certainly brings that extra element to the game over titles such as Motostorm where dirt scatter is just for graphical show.

Verdict

Sega Rally is Sega doing what it does best, creating a game that is incredibly simple in its approach, but at the same time offering plenty of depth once you get it in.

Like Sega's Virtua Tennis, this game is likely to appeal to all levels, those who want some quick racing action as if they were in the games arcade, and those who want to really challenge their driving prowess.

You might not be able to customise your car by anything more than a couple of paint job options (a good thing in our opinion) but the track physics, tough unforgiving driver AI and beautiful scenery will mean this game lasts you for some time.

Oh and the multiplayer is really good too.