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WRC: Rally Evolved Review

We test the latest world rally game for PS2

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Latest WRX game for PS2
  • Random on-track dangers
  • Wide range of skill levels and cars
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Want to tackle the treacherously slippery roads of the Monte Carlo rally? Reckon you can drift on dirt like a pro? Well, chances are you won’t be signing any deals with a works team so the closest you can get is this – WRC: Rally Evolved for Sony PS2.

If you’re familiar with other rally games of the past year or two, WRC: Rally Evolved isn’t dramatically different in any way – it’s just, as the name suggests, an evolution. You get to chose from the latest cars and drivers, the graphics are about as good as they come and the game-play is intuitive.

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Rally Evolved offers a wide range of modes to suit all skill levels and you can pickm - depending on your mood and how much time you’ve got to kill - from quick race, championship, rally-cross (door-to-door competition against other cars), test track, single rally and single stage. It can also accommodate one to four players or up to 16 on-line. After getting acquainted with the tracks and handling of the relatively slow 1600cc class cars, you can step up to the WRC machines such as the Evo, STi, Pug 306 and Focus.

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The rally circuits vary from the snow of Sweden to the rocky roads of Cypress. Rally Australia also gets a guernsey with some stages affected by fire and thick smoke (which reduces visibility). It’s these characteristics that make this game stand out from its rivals. You can encounter rolling boulders, fallen trees, wild animals, crowds of spectators, and marshals in the middle of the road signaling to slow down for an accident. And these all appear randomly – don’t expect to see the same obstacle in the same place twice! The voice of your navigator is also a big help in negotiating the stages – even though his words of encouragement and criticism become repetitious.

WRC: Rally Evolved doesn’t let you get away with trashing the car – after a few big ‘offs’ you’ll find damage to the suspension, brakes, wheels and engine. Fortunately, the cars are not as sensitive in this regard as Colin McRae Rally.

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After a bit of driving, you’ll start tackling the corners faster and notice that, somehow, the car is automatically braking for you. This is a driver aid function of the game. The driver aids are separated into brake assistance, steering assistance (which corrects the car’s attitude), and brake assist – each can be varied to suit your tastes and skill level. You can also adjust steering sensitivity, and the basic set-up of the car (including swaybar balance and gearing) can be altered before each stage.

Criticisms?

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Well, the car graphics have some room for improvement (though they are very good), the vehicle repair section of the game (which appears after each special stage) could be improved and, on one occasion, the game froze. Explore the game a bit further and you’ll find historical Group B cars, concept cars and more. However, these extras often need to be unlocked by winning races. There’s plenty to keep you motivated to keep pushing and winning rallies.

Developed by Evolution Studios and published by SCEE, WRC: Rally Evolved is a good – if not standout – rallying game. It’s available at all major retailers and has a recommended retail price of AUD$99.95.

A promotional sample of WRC: Rally Evolved was supplied free for this test by Weber Shandwick Worldwide. www.webershandwick.com

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