WRC: Rally Evolution Reader Review
Move over Colin...
I passed the last edition of WRC over can't remember why - I think there was just too much other great stuff demanding my attention, but I have played earlier versions so I can make comparison. Booting the game up I felt right at home. The menus as ever are slick and reflect the TV coverage of WRC perfectly. In game the feel of the car and handling are spot on in my opinion and driving using both analogue sticks is a dream (I usually have trouble with this and end up resorting to x and Sq for acceleration etc). Sure the game defaults to having all the driving aids turned up to 11 to begin with, but their easily notched down to less than Spinal Tap ratios to give yourself a good challenge.
As for the graphics and environment - whoa! Towards the end of playing through the whole world rally I was absolutely taken aback by the snow and fog effects on the Sweden stages. It really does feel like your ploughing through dense blizzard conditions and you ease off a little (in fact you have to) just like you would in your own car. Add to this the bush fires and smoke filled forests of Australia, the crazy steep (and I mean steep) hills and torturous hairpins of Cyprus and it's a winner.
The weather effects are enhanced by subtle touches like the way the dust real 'hangs' above the track on some stages and billows across your line of vision on others. I've never ever had a sense of 'wind' in a driving game before, but boy this hits the spot head on.
Without spoiling any surprises (you might have seen most of this in the trailers) the new 'random events' are heaps of fun and add a nice element of shock to the tracks. When you see a marshal on the track waving his arms anything could be around that next corner! Examples are crashed or limping cars, fallen trees, pigs and other herds of animals, power lines or even opposition drivers having a good slanging match. Great fun! The crowds of onlookers too seem much better this time around, no longer looking like cardboard cutouts, but much more lifelike as the scatter out of the way of your oncoming (usually misjudged) corner-taking. If you run into them you'll be penalised (as I found out after aiming for them).
The online mode is just as hot as the single player. Worthy of particular note is the Rally Cross mode where you now get to race against 3 other human opponents on the same track (rather than racing against up to 15 ghost cars of your opponents in the normal rally mode). Much fun and wrangle tangle driving to be had there (rally cross is also available in the single player). The normal rally I'm lead to believe is not that much changed from the last instalment (you choose a window to start in and then race the stage along with ghost car versions of anyone in the room who chose the same window and a leader board is kept of your best time. You can race the same stage multiple times (depending on the setup of the room) or until a time limit expires).
There's more, much more - such as classic cars, prototypes, extras - but you should go get it and find all that out for yourself. I only hope you have half as much fun as I'm having with it. The bottom line is if you had WRC4 then this might not seem like the 'evolution' it claims to be, but if you've missed the last couple of instalments then it's one to get for sure.
8 / 10