Network Q RAC Rally Championship review
Driving cars dead fast is pretty popular, and pretty dangerous most of the time.
Luckily there are parts of the country where, now and again, you're allowed to drive what are essentially souped-up 'normal' cars through all manner of demanding terrain.
Of course, to drive rally cars for real you have to be (a) rich and (b) good at it. Network Q saves you thousands of pounds' worth of damage to your Skoda by putting you at the controls of one of six meaty cars in 28 different courses. Unlike Formula one or Indycar racing, these courses aren't girly tarmac round-and-round affairs, but gruelling mud and snow-covered forest tracks. The game lets you burn round them in a variety of modes, including Arcade, where you have to get past checkpoints in a certain time, Individual, where you race other cars, or Time Trial - against the clock. There's also Championship which involves driving all the courses, trying to keep on the road between stages with limited maintenance time available.
The graphics in Network Q are superb, with detailed backdrops, snow and rain-covered windscreens and headlights on the night stages. There are three viewpoints to choose from, and if you don't have a pretty decent Pentium, you'll also need to turn down the detail. The graphics are complemented by frighteningly realistic sound effects. The pitter-patter of rain, the crunch of gravel under the tyres, and the grinding noises when your gearbox is knackered, all combine to convince you that you really are driving through the pouring rain at midnight in an Escort Cosworth with a dodgy clutch.