A steely-eyed dedication to point-to-point, against-the-clock racing - only slightly sullied by the Super Special Stages - also plays to WRC 2's favour. DiRT 3 might have boasted more traditional rallying, but WRC 2 can boast nothing but, something it plays to well.
Indeed, there's something of Codemasters' rally series - before it picked up its American twang - in WRC 2. Stages are punctuated by trips to the service area, and as it was in the days of the Colin McRae games, it's a case of simple resource management; with an hour at your disposal, it's your call whether that time is better spent patching up a radiator or doing something about that bodywork that's hanging off after you got a little too friendly with some of the scenery.
Rallies become wars of attrition, with WRC 2's surprisingly deep damage modelling chipping away at the cars of the less careful. Gears grind and splutter, burst radiators sap away at the car's power and buckled wheels can be felt as the steering tugs away from you.
This year's model does offer some immunity from such problems. A rewind feature debuts, though at present it's a little clunky: up to nine rewinds are available at the press of a button, but they're awkward to use and far from the slick time travel that's been at the core of Codemasters' recent racing games.
It's also a slight shame to see such a concession. Last year's WRC game benefitted in some small way from the lack of the feature, placing an emphasis on the kind of conservative driving that's increasingly rare in the driving genre, and engendering a real thrill when you managed to scrape a decent time together without the safety net that the rewind feature offers.
The absence of a rewind feature also placed WRC's handling on a pedestal, and it remains a highlight for the sequel. Keeping on top of the car's shifting momentum is a challenge, but the car's behaviour is predictable enough to ensure it's a pleasure.
Unfortunately - and somewhat worryingly, given how close the game is to release - this year's cars don't feature in the preview build, which offers last year's cars in place of the neutered Super 2000s of 2011. They're preferable, for sure, but it'll be interesting to see how the handling adapts to the smaller, less powerful cars that are this year's top tier.
12 months on, not much has changed, but with the fundamentals intact and bolstered by several smart additions, it's a definite step forward for the series - albeit a very small one. WRC 2 won't be challenging DiRT 3 as the comprehensive off-road experience, but it's looking to be a competent racer from a developer that's proving adept at catering to some of motorsport's niches.
Will you support Eurogamer?
We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.