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V-Rally 2: Expert Edition Review

Rally games have the perfect formula for arcade racers. They’re all about racing against the clock in extreme weather conditions on varied surfaces using some of the world’s most powerful 4 wheeled vehicles. V-Rally 2 has all of the above and is definitely the highest point of the series.

For a PSX port, the game certainly has a lot riding against it. The Dreamcast is home to one of the greatest rally games of all time (SEGA Rally 2) so V-Rally 2 had to do something special to shine against it. What it does deliver is a fantastic port with a higher frame rate, which successfully maintains a perfect 60fps throughout the entire game.

Presentation is one of the game’s real stand-out features. The game gives you a profile slot for every player you add, helping multi-player races feel more personal but allowing each player a slot to unlock the bonus cars and tracks for themselves. There are 4 modes to play through; Arcade, Time Trial, Trophy and Championship. Arcade holds 3 difficulties containing a various amount of circuits where you race head-to-head against the clock with 3 other cars. Time Trial allows you to take on all the courses the game has to offer but they’re split into their respective country for easier navigation. Trophy is similar to Arcade as you race against 3 other cars but the clock has been removed to make this more about racing than surviving against the time. You also have the added advantage of saving your progress through each of the 3 difficulties so you don’t have to finish all the races in one sitting. Championship also maintains this feature but removes the other drivers and makes your aim a race against times already set by computer drivers. Damage is also added which changes your playing style to a more tactical and cautious approach.

There’s tonnes of gaming to work through so it’s nice to find out that the game plays magnificently. The cars are incredibly responsive and the analog stick works a lot better than the d-pad (about time) allowing for greater precision. Our major gripe comes with the way the cars feel. It can only be described as spongy and light. The cars lift off at every given moment meaning that they roll far too easily. The spongyness comes from the fact that the cars don’t feel very solid. It doesn’t affect the gameplay but when the car collides with walls or objects it seems to sink into the scenery and bounce back quite easily without losing any pace. It’s difficult to describe without actually playing but as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t really affect the gameplay.

Graphically the game is passable. Some stages look a lot better than others and the car models are fairly detailed but it’s nothing to write home about. The textures are higher in quality if compared to the PSX version and the frame rate is a perfect 60fps but those are the only improvements. The big problem with the visuals is that the scenery just seems to repeat itself. It’s almost as if the tracks have been created with the game’s level designer. This hurts the game slightly as it doesn’t really feel like you’re actually going anywhere. Some landmarks of visual gimmicks could have really made this game stand out a little more but this is only a minor complaint.

When it comes to sound the game does a great job. It’s the small details like the wind rushing at higher speeds and the change in noise as you run onto different surfaces that really heighten the realism. Music doesn’t do as good a job as the sound as it’s very tinny. It’s nice to have it there but you need to turn it up from the options menu to really hear it. Once you do this you’ll really wish you hadn’t bothered as it’s all very monotonous, industrial-rock that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Devil May Cry game.

However, the game’s real selling point is its’ sublime track designer. Great tracks can be easily made without many restrictions and saving them takes up very little space. A special mention has to go to the unique ability of being able to edit the landmass. Some great fun can be had with this little package and it really adds to the game’s overall package.

In conclusion, V-Rally 2 is a brilliantly detailed racer that despite some repetitive scenery and shoddy music, adds some much needed accessibility to the genre that racing fans of all ages will want to share.


Written by Sonic Yoda on 2/2/09

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