If you are a racing fan and the Gamecube was your system of choice, chances are you are either a very unhappy person or you broke down and picked up another console to satisfy your racing itch. Let's face it ' while the other two systems are loaded with great (and not so great) racing games, the Gamecube has been limited to a sparse selection of crappy ports. Almost a year later and we finally have our first system exclusive rally racer. While it gets points for being the only rally racer in town, finding other things to like about the game is a bit more challenging.
To be fair, this game does not suck; it is just average in some areas and a bit below average in others. First, the game starts off on the wrong foot by forcing gamers to complete a series of tests before allowing you to jump in and play the championship mode. The only options available when first booting up the game are School (training) and Time Trial (3 tracks where you can race for best times). Basically, you're stuck spending 30 minutes plus going to school before you can ever play the meat of the game.
Once you get into the championship mode, you select which team you want to race for. The game does sport 20 real world vehicles so you will be racing licensed cars. The championship is pretty generic, letting you make minor tweaks to your car between races. It would have been nice if there was some sort of explanation on what your changes actually do to the vehicle though. While some are more obvious (use wet tires on wet roads), others left me having no idea how the change will affect my car. I am sorry, but I just don't know the difference between setting my turbo at low, medium or high.
All minor gripes would be forgiven if the races were solid but again, the game lands itself in the mediocre category. At times, the action is fast and fun. Other times, your vehicle physics completely miss the mark. Run into a street sign and watch your car shoot 10 feet back but slide around a corner at 40 MPH and see your car stick to the road like glue. Again, there were times where I was enjoying myself enough to overlook these inconsistencies but on the whole, I just can't bring myself to recommend this game.
At the end of the day, what we have is a game with sub par graphics, strange physics, confusing options and not enough enjoyment to warrant a purchase. If you are a die hard racing fan and you only own a Gamecube, give it a shot but don't expect greatness. If you want greatness, go buy an Xbox and Rallisport Challenge