Rallying To Your Side
Codemasters used to own the rally scene. Apart from a couple of Evolution Studios-developed WRC titles on the Playstation 2 and Playstation Portable, the Colin McRae Rally series dominated the genre for many years. However, in recent years, the series (now simply called DIRT after McRae's tragic death in 2007) has moved away from its serious rally roots and into the X-Games culture of American rallying and rallycross. This has left a large gap for a serious rally simulator.
That is precisely the gap Black Bean Games and Milestone S.R.L attempted to fill in 2010 with the (unrelated) WRC game they released on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Whilst not a complete success, the game showed promise and it is the foundation created by it that Black Bean, Milestone and Ubisoft aim to build on with WRC 2. Boasting an updated roster of cars, teams and drivers as well as new game modes and 9 car categories to choose from, is WRC 2 the ultimate title for Rally enthusiasts, or has it left something to be desired?
If you're going into this experience expecting a drastic change in game from the previous title, you'll be sorely disappointed. Apart from the addition of a few stages, an increased number of cars and updated rosters and a half-hearted attempt to polish the appearance of the cars, WRC 2 is essentially the EXACT same game as last year. Now, you can never have too much of a good thing, but too much of an average thing? Well, you just start feeling a bit tired of it.
If you missed out on last year's title, WRC 2 is the one of the two to get, but be warned - it can take some getting used to. In gameplay terms, the steering feels synthetic and unnatural. Apart from that, the game is a strong representation of rally driving, with a whole host of assists (including racing lines, confusingly called SPLINES in this game) and options to tweak to find a level that is comfortable for you. Add to this a Rewind feature borrowed from Codemasters' brilliant racing titles, and you've pretty much got the basic idea of the main bulk of the game. Of course, gameplay is no good without modes to play them, and WRC 2 has a handful of modes to suck you in.
For the inexperienced drivers amongst you, the best place to start in WRC 2 is at the WRC Rally School. Essentially a set of tutorials, the Rally School challenges you to improve your driving skills whilst simultaneously getting used to the controls and finding a level of assists that is right for you. With 18 challenges, you could spend a fair amount of time doing them. However, they are all fairly basic and do not hold much 'challenge' to them. That's where the main mode comes in - The Road to WRC. In this mode, you're there for the long haul. Starting off as an unknown driver competing in junior championships, you build up your rally team from competing in this regional tournaments until you are picked up by a WRC team and compete with the 'big boys'. This is where the bulk of your single-player experience of WRC 2 will be spent, researching technologies and employing staff as well as throwing your car awkwardly around corners. Apart from a minor facelift and more of an emphasis on research and development, it's much the same as last year's mode. WRC championship, Single Stage, Single Rally and Time Trial modes all make an appearance in WRC 2, meaning there is plenty to do if you're so inclined.
There's plenty to do if you're a fan of multiplayer options as well. For those of you with real-life friends, there's offline hot-seat options for up to 4 players to drive in Single Stage, Single Rally and Championship modes, which provide a fair amount of fun. However, with the game as flawed as it is, the enjoyment isn't as high as with other titles, so many will pass WRC 2 by. This has been seen to be the case with the online aspect as well - struggling to find a single race online just a week after launch is not a good advertisement, but there are Single Stage, Super Special Stage, Single Rally and Online championship modes (in theory) available. In practice, however, you will struggle to find a game.
Look Of Disappointment
The lack of the spectacular in WRC 2 continues with the underwhelming presentation. The game's aesthetics are reminiscent of a bygone age; terribly crude and blurred, with a real lack of polish. The cars look okay in general, but certain aspects jerk the player back into the bygone age, with the car tyres looking unrealistic and often not even round. The story here is exactly the same as everything else, with very similar problems to last year's title and little or no improvement evident. At least the audio design is as strong as it was, with the co-driver sounding as animated as necessary and shouting at you if you clip a fence. The cars sound fine too.
The problem with WRC 2 is simple - the improvements are minimal on last year's title. This means that instead of the game being a spirited follow up, it is instead merely WRC with an updated roster, a few new tracks and cars and a rewind feature. That's it. Deja Vu. It's a damn shame, as the game is as enjoyable a rally game as WRC was. It just feels unfinished and unrefined.
Still the only focused rally game. If you liked last years, you\'ll like this year\'s too. Enjoyable if you look past all its faults.
Lacks polish and refinement. Graphics can be downright ugly at times. Handling can be awkward at times. Almost identical to last years. Still not a exceptional game. A disappointment.