WRC: Rally Evolution

WRC Rally Evolved

WRC Rally Evolved

Not the paradigm (gear) shift its suffix evidently seeks to suggest.

With its actual racing engine pushing all the right pedals, it's alarming to discover that WRC: Rally Evolved suffers from what can only be described as an identity crisis. That it's clearly designed to appeal to as broad an audience as possible isn't an issue. However, it appears to have been crafted with the execrable "mainstream gamers = idiots" equation in mind, the insulting assumption that casual players will be sent screaming from the room by any hint of complexity or difficulty.

Not long into my first championship, I discovered that the three new driving aids added to this release - steering assist, traction control and braking assist - are not merely activated, but set to maximum by default. There's no attempt to ascertain your level of experience, no forewarning, no attempt to even loosely tie these settings to difficulty levels. Traction control is understandable, but that WRC helps you to, italics indicating disbelief, brake and steer as standard is an inexplicable decision. Disable or reduce the driving aids, set the steering sensitivity to 'slow' (this is probably a subjective thing, but the default setting feels unnaturally twitchy), and keeping your car on the track becomes the appreciably technical test of skill and judgement that you would expect from a rally game.

That the driving aids are activated is a minor inconvenience, granted, but a symptom of a wider problem. Obsessed with ease of use and accessibility, Evolution has made a number of bizarre decisions. Take the damage system, for example. Hit a tree at full speed, and you can reasonably expect your vehicle's performance to be impaired. Problematically, it doesn't make a great deal of difference. When your co-driver announces that there's engine damage after a collision, you might notice a slight drop in acceleration or top speed, but little more. Even a handful of serious smashes won't hold you back - indeed, it seems that the only way to really wreck your car in any meaningful way is by making a concerted effort to repeatedly crash, or through abject ineptitude.

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