WRC 2

Rallying on. 

Last year, Milestone's World Rally Championship ended a long hiatus from video games for one of motorsport's top-tier series. It wasn't the only one, of course - but while Codemasters' F1 2010 came with all the swagger and polish that's befitting of the world's noisiest circus, then WRC was perhaps a reflection of rallying's more diminutive following.

The worlds of Sébastien Loeb and Sebastian Vettel, though revolving around four wheels, couldn't be more different. Glamour and mud don't necessarily go hand in hand, and while champagne is the tipple of choice in the Grand Prix paddock club, when the WRC came to the UK last year and wanted to put on a show, it did so in a damp Cardiff car park where a thermos of tea was the only sensible choice of refreshment.

It's fitting, then, that last year's WRC game wasn't the glitziest. A bare-bones driving experience, it nailed the essentials of flinging a car through thick forests well enough, though it was lacking elsewhere. It's not unfair to say that, at times, WRC was as pretty as mud.

So it's only natural that it's the visuals that are getting the biggest makeover for this quickly turned around sequel. It's evident from the front-end on - menus are told through cool white screens that are both more efficient and more stylish than they were in last year's effort.

There's more to WRC's visual upgrade than a few neat menus, of course, and there's been a noticeable improvement in-game. Lighting's more pronounced, dancing through trees and off the well-modelled cars, and there's been a boost in both the number and quality of the assets.

1
A rally school provides a light introduction to the core mechanics, working up from simple cornering through to the Scandinavian flick (which isn't a haircut.)

It's most apparent in the all-new Super Special Stages, in which two cars go head-to-head across enclosed, entwined ribbons of tarmac. These arenas - of which there will be five in the final game - boast the kind of trackside detail that's not normally seen in a Milestone game, and while hardly spectacular, they're approaching handsome in their looks.

DiRT 3 is a natural comparison, and there's a sizable gulf between the two. It's understandable, given the equally sizeable gulf in the two games' budgets, and it's here that Milestone's less illustrious heritage is apparent; WRC 2, despite the many and noticeable improvements, is still only a functional-looking game.

But that's been the way for much of the studio's output, and it hasn't stopped the likes of the SBK games from delivering the finest two-wheeled experience available. With DiRT 3 so fresh in the memory - and having done such a sterling job - it's unlikely we'll be able to say the same for WRC 2 and off-road driving, but Milestone knows that and picks its battles well.

WRC 2 wisely leans heavily on perhaps its greatest asset, the official FIA license. The stamp of authenticity brings with it a wealth of content that's smartly woven in; the full calendar is featured, and that in itself promises a track list that dwarves WRC 2's competition, with 90 courses making the cut.

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Martin Robinson

Martin Robinson

Editor-in-chief

Martin is Eurogamer's editor-in-chief. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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