WRC: World Rally Championship
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
bam! entertainment
Developer
Evolution Studios
Genre
Racing
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Everyone
 
Grade
The Good

• Controls easy to get into
• Real life driving teams
• Nice graphics package

The Bad

• Controls and car damage are handled inconsistently
• "Tweaking" the car seems useless
• Lots of time wasted in menus

 
Grade
C-

I had a really hard time sorting out my feelings of this game. The good was always matched with the bad. On the one hand, the controls were easy to get into and made the driving exciting, giving you the feeling that you were pushing the cars to their extremes.

But the way the programmers achieve that feeling by making the controls of the car extremely inconsistent. The car will take the same turn multiple ways. One time through you can fly through it at top speed. The second time though, you'll have to slow down to a near crawl. Also, the steering seems to float from time to time.

Another good enhancement was the inclusion of all of the real life driving teams for each car. So not only do you have the driver, but also the navigator. Both are rendered in each car, giving an air of authenticity. And don't think that the copilots are only window dressing. During each run he'll be calling out the twists and turns of the course to you. This, too, comes with a negative, as he is late making the calls, at what seemed the most inopportune times. And if you are trying to keep your 2-3 sec lead in a rally, it can get frustrating.

As for the Rallies themselves, this game comes with all 14 rallies spanning the entire world. Each one mapped on the actual courses, from Monaco to Great Britain. This gives you plenty of game to play (which you'll need to get used to the controls). The courses themselves are really hard to differentiate from each other. Spain looks like Argentina, which looks like Kenya. Making it easy to slip into the dreaded driving trance.

You'll also be provided with the cars from the seven makers that took part in the 2001 Rally season. Each car has a different HUD to give a little variety to the racing. And with that you'll be provided with multiple camera angles to race in. Included in the set are two inside-the-car views. One of these is a cool first person perspective that really gives the feeling of being in the race. This is one aspect I'd like to see in the next Gran Turismo. The other view is a third person over-the-shoulder angle. Allowing you to race seeing both the driver and navigator. In this view you will actual see the driver shift gears and fight to keep control of the car, and the navigator checks his map and calls out instructions to the pilot. Great effect, but kind of useless for racing for it creates a couple of blind spots.

Also before each race, you will be briefed as to the weather conditions, and given a shot to "tweak" your car. Be it the gear differential, to the tires to use. But you might have noticed that I had put tweak in quotes. That is because the game seems to put you in the best set up before each race. Making the tweak feature almost moot. As a matter fact, the car will actually perform worse if you meddle with the set ups at all! Also, although you have a wide variety of locations, and weather conditions to race in, there is not that much of a difference between a snow/gravel course and a wet/tarmac course. Most of this is due to set ups the game puts you in.

The cars also take damage if you are not careful with your driving. This damage is not just cosmetic either. If you do damage to your steering column for example, the car will be extremely difficult to control. Or if the gear box is what is damaged, the acceleration of the car will be hampered. This too seems to be half-heartily implemented, for the damage comes across as completely random. I have been able to flip the car several times in a race and suffer no damage at all. Then at other times, I would slide into a rope barrier and trash the whole car.

Graphically, the game would be what is expected from the PS2. Plenty of particle effects, dust and grime build up on the car during the race and beautiful scenery during the replays. Also damage is shown during the race, as you will acquire cracked windshields and smoke bellowing from under the hood. The game suffers from very little slow down, which it shouldn't, only being seen while using certain driving views. Generally a pretty good looking game. The one thing that really impressed me was the amount of road you could see. While completing a turn at the crest of a hill, I was able to see the road I would soon be traveling on far into the distance.

Sound wise the game is very good in the FX department. While in the first person view, you can hear the gravel hitting the inside of the wheel wells, and the window wipers during rain or snow stages. The cars all have subtle variances in motors, and what set up you are running. BMG is only heard during the replays and in the menus. Which brings up another bad point? Expect to spend almost equal time between racing and navigating the menu screens. The game comes with what they call an automatic save feature. But all this saves are you game settings. You must be sure to save after every race or lose any progress you have made during the game. I found this out the hard by finishing the first rally, only to find out I had to run the whole thing over again. Very annoying.

Overall the game comes with many good ideas that just aren't executed fully. I did find it easy to get into, but that was because I had played other racing simulators before. I would not recommend this to anyone new to the genre. Play GT3: A-Spec instead - it costs the same amount and is a much, much better experience.

- - RookiePlaya

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