Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 03/21/02 | Genre: Driving
If you haven't noticed by now (and most people haven't) PS2 has been lacking in the Rally racing genre. Except for Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, which included a little, there haven't been any games dedicated to professional rally racing. Sure, it isn't a popular sport here in North America, but it hasn't really been marketed here either. Before I get into this review I want to say, if you like rally racing games then go over to the store right now and pick up this game, you won't regret it.
World Rally Championship (WRC) is the official game of the FIA WRC and it holds up to its name. In case you didn't know already, in rally racing you don't race against other cars, but other cars' times. Now this might discourage you, but honestly when I'm playing I don't even think of it because I'm having so much fun.
There are a massive 81 tracks which include all of the official ones that are in the WRC. There are 4 different modes including Single Rally, Time Trail, and Two Player, but the World Rally Championship mode is where this game is at its greatest. In this mode you take on the challenge of 70 official stages in 14 countries across the world. You can choose from 7 different cars (2002 Subaru Impreza WRC, Peugeut 206 WRC, Ford Focus WRC, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, Hyundai Accent WRC, Skoda Octavia WRC, and Citroen Xsara T4) plus the different drivers and co-drivers, all of who were in the 2001 FIA WRC. What's really cool presentation wise is that before each country there is an FMV sequence explaining the types of roads, weather, etc. that will be in the stages plus it talks a little about the country itself. Before each stage there is a screen that displays information on it including a map of the stage, the weather, the surface and the distance you must travel. There is also a car setup screen which lets you modify the gear ratio, brake strength, steering precision, tires, and suspension strength.
The game plays beautifully, especially with the Logitech GT Force steering wheel. I enjoy this game much more with the wheel then I do GT3 with the wheel. You can feel every bump and hit you take with the wheel (and controller) and if you own the GT Force then do yourself a favor and pick this title up as it takes great advantage of it. If you don't own the GT Force then don't panic as this game is still very enjoyable with the controller, but if you can afford to buy the wheel (with its new lowered price at $69.99 American) then pick it up. With or without the wheel each car handles different and my personal favorite car, the 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX, handling as good as ever. There are even 5 different views to choose from, including a drivers seat view (with dashboard, steering wheel and all), a view between the driver and co-driver, and a behind the car view. In these nerve racking races the co-driver assists you by telling you and displaying each type of turn, jump or otherwise that is coming up which helps a ton especially on the night courses. But these symbols are surprisingly absent from the 2-player mode which could be a problem depending on what stage you are racing on.
The graphics are great in every sense. The cars look amazing, the ground looks great, even the people around the stages watching the race look good as they wave and cheer for you. The cars take damage and show it with broken windows, smashed bumpers, and even popped tires. Now sure, all this damage looks great, but it even affects the way the car drives. Once I was racing along, took a bad turn, and went really hard into a wall, after that I noticed that my car kept pulling to the left while I was driving. At first I thought something was wrong with the controller, but it all has to do with the damage system as one of my tires popped once I collided with the wall. There are some problems with it though, as one time I flew right off a cliff and landed upside down with the roof and hood collapsed in with no actual damage that affected the driving behavior, but luckily these mistakes don't happen too often.
This game is defiantly a must-buy for the rally fan out there, and should also be purchased if you just like racing games in general. If you want to buy this game solely for the 2-player experience then go out and buy an Xbox with a copy of RalliSport Challenge because you aren't going to find a good multi-player experience here. With only 10 stages and one view in 2-player mode this is defiantly not the game for more then one person. But if you want a game with an amazingly fun single-player experience then you've found the right rally game for you, at least until Colin McRae 3.0 comes out.