World Rally Championship: Rally Evolved ReviewCain Dornan
While the WRC series has managed to release a game almost every year, the changes between each new title have always been limited. While the development team at Evolution Studios has managed to tweak and refine the realistic gameplay with each new title, the collection of modes on offer has remained to be the weakest point of the game, limiting the games overall lifetime. It appears that Evolution Studios has finally realized this, creating the most realistic and largest WRC game to hit our systems yet.
WRC: Rally Evolved is your typical licensed rally title at heart. The game offers a decent collection of current and previous WRC vehicles, plenty of official tracks from across the globe and an assortment of different championships to compete in. The general feel and control of the game remains almost identical to the previous title in the series, WRC 4, offering truly realistic vehicle handling that is greatly effected according to the realistically-modeled damage that you receive during each race. If you damage your transmission, for example, you will have problems with the gears. Add to this environment and other conditions that will effect your vehicles in more way than one, and WRC: Rally Evolved manages to provide a quality realistic rally experience.
Realistic controls and gameplay doesnt make a game, however. The overly accurate gameplay does make sacrifice to the level of enjoyment that can be gained from the game. While big-time rally fans will find the game to be a great experience, lesser rally fans will likely find the gameplay to be repetitive and ultimately short lived. The gameplay varies little from start to finish, regardless of the course that you are playing. As such, WRC: Rally Evolved is best suited for the true rally fan, with those who have less of an interest in the sport likely finding the game to be a good rental, rather than a purchase.
The center of WRC: Rally Evolved is the Championship mode. The mode allows you to select a WRC licensed vehicle and participate in events that progressively rise in difficulty. The WRC Novice championship is the best place to start your winning streak, with the WRC Professional and WRC Expert events rising in difficulty accordingly. For some slight variation, the Super 1600 championship is also available, giving you access to a different assortment of vehicles and courses.
For those who do not wish to participate in a long spanning collection of events will be pleased to learn of Evolution Studios inclusion of a number of different modes that are easy to jump into and last for a short period of time. The Quick Race quickly pits you into a randomly selected vehicle and course, allowing for the fastest form of entering an event in the game. There is also the Single Rally and Single Stage modes, which allow you to select a specific rally or stage and race it.
The two more interesting modes are the Rally Cross and Historic Challenge modes. Rally Cross involves racing around a set lap-based course against three rivals, all of which are racing on the track at the same time as you. The Historic Challenge mode is a slightly more challenging mode, pitting you behind the wheel of a number of classic rally vehicles, all of which are, as expected, quite different to drive than their modern day counterparts. The Historic Challenge mode is essentially used to unlock the historic vehicles to use in the games other modes. If you manage to complete the set time-limited events, which are admittedly challenging, you will be able to use the classic vehicle in other modes.
In addition to the collection of official WRC vehicles, the game offers a more expansive collection of both past, present and future machines. A number of independent-teamed vehicles are on offer, which are accompanied with concept, extreme and historic vehicles to boot. While each vehicle type isnt always available in each mode, the number of vehicles on offer is certainly satisfying.
WRC: Rally Evolved offers multiplayer support in the form of turn-based, single console or through its online mode. The online mode allows you to compete with up to three other competitors on the same track in its Multi-car mode, which can also be performed offline using the games Rally Cross mode.
Despite the screenshots of the game displaying extremely poor, jagged and unrealistic graphics, the game is considerably far more attractive when it is in-action. Vehicles offer an impressive level of detail, with each panel and part offering superb damage effects that can transform a once attractive machine into nothing more than a dented, scratched, marked and torn mess. While the environments are often blocky and blurry, the development team has made good use of the Playstation 2s limited power to create an immersive and accurate course design that replicates each real-life course in a satisfying manner. The games visuals are complimented with a host of realistic sound effects that capture every smash, scrape, engine rev and course instruction.
While the game may only capture a true rally fans attention for an extended period of time, WRC: Rally Evolved is the best title in the series yet. The development team has managed to include a number of additional gameplay modes that aid in extending the games lifespan, all the while including the realistic gameplay that has long been evident in the series. With the relatively small number of rally titles to hit the PS2 in 2005, WRC: Rally Evolved is a worthwhile purchase for almost any devoted rally fan.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.