the writings of a mind

Title: V Rally 2 Expert Edition
Genre: Racing arcade
Big Word: Racy
Strap: Nobody said that arcade games were exclusively for console owners. You too should get a go.

It is very bad form to have a pre-built bias when reviewing a game, but upon discovering that V Rally 2 contains a Nissan Micra it was always going to be difficult to give it anything but a high score.

You see, my G reg. little beast can reach 90mph, but the ominous rattling sounds emitted from every microcosm of its being wouldnít lend confidence to veering it from the straight-lined tarmac of the M4, and onto an off-road dirt track in the rain. But now, in a way, I can. (Adopts Jeremy Clarkson voice) And Iím enjoying myself doing itÖ immensely.

VRally 2 is unapologetically an arcade game. So much so that when first playing there is a confusing moment as you try to find out where to insert the 50p coin. But it really has no need to apologise when it does what it sets out to do quite so well. Twelve different countries are available to race within, with a choice of over twenty five cars (from Skodas to Nissans, Renaults to Toyotas). These choices are then spread throughout four different modes of play (Time Trial, Arcade, VRally Cup, and Championship), each containing multiple stages. The message to come away with here is, choice. Lots and lots of choice.

Every car can be fiddled with in the most personal manner, from its style of brakes and tyres to the level of the suspension, you can change settings in a nice and simple way. None of your "Iíll add 0.007% onto my brakes and decide what to do with the steering just as soon as Iíve finished reading that Hayes manual." Not at all. Here it is nice graduated bars. Beef up one, and the other goes down accordingly. Youíre not a mechanic, youíre a gamer, and it seems to be aware of this.

So, to use the parlance of people who are "into" cars, how does it handle? Well, despite its blatant arcade-ness, surprisingly well. When playing in "Arcade", you can bounce and roll your car to your heartís content, and still catch up with the rest after just a few good curves. But in the more serious incarnations of play, damage picked up will affect your performance and hence your chances of winning. And while there is no money management, repairs are limited by time, so thereís only so much you can knock back into shape before the next race.

But the thing that makes VRally stand above the usual Playstation to PC portings is the incredible amount of fun it provides. Itís Just Great Fun. And the fact that the graphics are glitchy, and the sound is a bit dodge is all completely forgivable when youíre enjoying yourself that much. This is no simulation, and it is certainly no competitor for GP3, but what it is is an immensely enjoyable laugh. Micra owners, your day has come.

Margin Note:
Track and wheels

One of the more interesting features is the ability to design your own tracks. Through a very simple Railroad Tycoon-like track laying system, you plonk the pieces down until you have created your driving dream, then the engine does all the hard work for you, converting it into an instantly useable track. This is hugely satisfying, and an example of PCG genius can be found in the screenshots.

 It isnít an accurate simulation, and nor is it trying to be. Pure bouncy arcade fun.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Eden Studios
Price: £30
Minimum System: PII 300, 32Mb RAM, 8Mb 3D card, 600Mb HD space.
Recommended: PIII 450, 64Mb RAM, 32Mb 3D card, wheel
Multi-player: 2 player splitscreen
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