Just as Fun as 20 Years Ago: Our First GeneRally 2 Impressions

GeneRally 2 Early Access First Impressions.png
A long wait is almost over: 21 years after the release of the original in 2002, GeneRally 2 hits Steam Early Access on May 30th, aiming to keep and improve on the elements that made its predecessor so much fun while also adding more modern features. RaceDepartment got to try the game early - and we cannot wait for the release.

Top-down action, simple but charming graphics, chaotic races and, of course, the ability to create and race your own tracks - these core elements made GeneRally extremely enjoyable to many racing game fans over 20 years ago already. Those who enjoyed the first game will be especially happy to know that these elements are back and better than ever - and developer Curious Chicken has added more.

The core gameplay is the same: Up to eight racers compete in a top-down view on relatively simple tracks featuring different surface types. Five cars with different characteristics will be available for the Early Access launch, four were already playable in the pre-release version - choices include a Mini-inspired car, vintage and modern Formula racers and a rally car. The roster is set to be expanded by an offroad buggy for the Early Access version and even more vehicles later on.

Currently, all cars come with three liveries that can be customized by choosing two colors, making it easy to stand out and not lose sight of your car in a race.

GeneRally 2 Early Access First Impressions 2.png

The pre-release version features ten tracks plus four circuits that were already in the first GeneRally - and this is something players can look forward to even more in the future: The game's official Twitter account has confirmed that track importing from GR1 is in development. Should you have amassed a big library of custom tracks over the years, you will not have to re-do them for GeneRally2. The feature will not be ready for the launch of Early Access yet, though, so some more patience is needed.

Custom Tracks Are Back With A Vengeance​

What will be working at the Early Access Launch is the track editor - and the centerpiece of GeneRally 2 has been upgraded considerably. While the original's editor was a separate program that came with the game, GR2's track editor can be accessed from the main menu. Even better: Players can test their creations in the editor itself. Gone are the days of editing a track, saving the file, exiting the editor, launching GeneRally and only then being able to test if the changes worked the way they were intended.

The editor's basic principle is the same as it was in GR1 - players start out with a grass square that can be adjusted in size, then they can "paint" different surface types onto it to create their unique tracks. Terrain adjustments are done in a similar manner, so creating hills and valleys is still very easy.

Gene Rally 2 Track Editor.png

Features to make the result look more smooth have also been added. It is now possible to add kerbs that are a different color than red and white, for example, but our favorite is the rope that can be added to your brush. This way, you basically drag the brush on an imaginary rope instead of painting with it right where your cursor goes, leading to smoother lines for corners.

Trackside objects are more detailed now, and the library of them is supposed to grow over time as well. This way, custom tracks can be filled with life much easier and with more variety than before. Creations can then be uploaded to the Steam Workshop, where you will be able to find countless community creations eventually.

Race the Way You Want​

On the track, GeneRally 2 is still just as fun as its predecessor: While arcadey at its core, a few simulated elements are present, such as suspension behavior, tire degradation and fuel consumption. Cars can also be damaged, although not visually, and will handle worse as a result. Luckily, the trusty and fearless pit crews are back to restore your vehicle and get you racing again quickly.

Races can be customized regarding their lenght, which can be set to either laps, distance or time. Championships featuring multiple tracks are possible once again, and grids can be set either by points standings, in reverse or random.

Online features were not yet available in the pre-release version, but will be once the game launches on Steam Early Access. We cannot wait to try GeneRally 2 online, sink countless hours into its track editor, and sent the high-speed Formula cars of complete strangers flying over cliffs that are part of a circuit's route.

More to Come​

Check out GeneRally 2's Steam page here, where you can also wishlist the game to help the developers if you want to. For more detail on what Curious Chicken has planned for GR2, read our interview with developer James Burgess.

Meanwhile, let us know in the comments below if you are excited for GeneRally 2 and which tracks you want to see recreated in the track editor!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D


Hopefully built to work on steamdeck/handhelds.

Can't see myself getting it for my sim rig.
Funny I didn't like the feel of the demo, felt it was way off the original. Maybe I need to try it again.
I really have to try it, when it´s done. I had tons of fun playing the first one with one of my buddys. We had a real competition going on for months and really hated each other, while playing it.
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Tried that other top down racing game that came out some years back (Circuit Superstars) and realized that as someone who never really played computer games outside of racing games using a wheel, this is beyond my eye/hand coordination. Not even a good controller, supplied by my son, raised my level, if anything I felt even less comfortable than with a keyboard, cause I had hardly ever used a controller before. I just couldn't do it properly. Chalk it up as a learning experience, but no top down racers ever again for me, sry, too old to learn. Looks great fun, though. Pity.
First 10 minutes of Mondega with the General and Formula, not great. Very wooden, inconsistent grip. It is far from the fluid completely logical dance rhythm of the original.. Will play it some more...
I tried the demo and wasn't impressed although I like some top down racers, like Mashed or Reckless Racing for example. This felt boring, idk maybe there should be more to the physics or something
First 10 minutes of Mondega with the General and Formula, not great. Very wooden, inconsistent grip. It is far from the fluid completely logical dance rhythm of the original.. Will play it some more...
This is how I felt as well. Just didn't have the flow of the original which made it so great.
What does this have to do with sim racing?
There´s a lot. Physics are very nice for a top down racer, Fuel consumption, Tirewear, car damage, pit stops, evolving track, custom championships, track editor.

You should give the original game a try, you´ll be surprised.

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