PS2 Reviews

World Rally Championship Review

World Rally Championship is an officially licensed product, featuring all of the cars, teams and drivers from the official 2001 World Rally Championship. Battle your way through 81 heart-pounding stages in 14 rallies located all over the world. Experience the pure emotion, hardcore action and sheer power of rally racing in the quest for ultimate glory.

World Rally Championship is one of the best rally games we’ve ever played, and a worthy competitor to the more arcade-driven Rallisport for the X-Box. It features all the tracks, cars, and drivers from the 2001 World Rally Championship, and with that level of commitment to realism comes a graphical look that far exceeds other car games. What EA is to F1 racing, Evolution Studios is to rally racing.

A Rally Big Show

The game’s look is the first thing to impress you. Detailed cars, each with their own unique design and specific nuances, look great on the road. From the Subaru Impreza to the Peugeot 206 to the Hyundai Accent, the cars look sleek and shiny at the gate. When the action starts, however, the cars take on damage and environmental effects just like in real life. You’ll see windows shatter on impact, watch as your tail pipe sputters on hard accelerations, and see snow, mud, and road debris litter your car. The 14 different areas to race are all individually designed to accent their countries individual beauty – when racing in the Rallye de Espana, you see the Spanish countryside in all its twisting, turning glory. When in Monte Carlo, you’ll fight the sleek, snowy tracks, while in New Zealand you’ll have to adjust for the sandy, gritty road. The individuality of each area is one of the reasons the game is so much fun to play – there’s very little repetition.The sound is barren, but what sound there is available is constant. A majority of the sound is the car’s furious whine coupled with the co-pilot giving directions. Both would seemingly be destined for cut-off because of their annoyance, but they actually compliment each other in a way that makes each less annoying – at some point you’ll be listening intently for your co-pilots direction. But the game contains much smaller, more subtle, and definitely more detailed sound effects – the sputter of your engine when pumping the gas pedal, the rocks and grit cascading on the car on sharp turns, the dangerous squeal of tires as you almost bail in a ditch. These sounds may seem less important, but they add to the game’s depth and realism, and they make the total experience more satisfying.

Just Skidding Yourself

Like most rally games, though, the realism is saved for the driving, and a bad mix of driving mechanics can make the graphics less appreciable. Fortunately for WRC, the controls are minutely adjustable, with options that would make any race fan dizzy. You can set gear ratio, brake strength, steering, tires for dry, wet, or spike (snow and ice) and suspension. Maintaining the right controls for the right conditions is key in the game – if you allow the computer to automatically make the adjustments for you, you may find that you’re just skidding yourself into disaster. The game is heavy on controlling through hard turns, and unless you have the optimum set up, you’ll lose control of the car.

But even that isn’t much of a concern, and this may be the game’s biggest flaw. With all of the endorsements, real drivers, authentic rally courses, and car options, the game is not hard to beat on the normal mode, and since there’s precious little to unlock, you may find yourself playing just for love of the competition. Again, it doesn’t matter because WRC is simply the best rally game for the PS2, and directly in competition with Rallisport for the hearts and minds of rally racing.

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