Test Drive V-Rally
Rally racing is a big sport on the east side of the Atlantic; television-friendly racing is what sells in America and rally races aren’t televised much here. However, rally races are great because the courses are always so different from one another. The races are run in different countries, on different continents, so you’re ensured of racing on varied terrain: rural dirt roads, frozen tundra, jungle and outback, over mountainous passes, through windy oceanside villages, and during different times of the day (or night). V-Rally is based on the version first seen on the PSX, but don’t pass judgment based on that. This game shares cars and tracks with that title but little else. Test Drive V-Rally on the Dreamcast has some serious graphics muscle and isn’t afraid to flex ‘em.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
This game is a flat-out blast to play. It shows off the frame speed and graphics that DC’ers expected from Sega Rally 2. Absolutely flawless 60 fps framerate and the endlessly varied courses and topography keep the game fresh. This game does a great job conveying a sense of speed. There are four game modes (time trial, arcade, trophy, and championship) and all four of them can be played in single or multiplayer mode. You can also unlock new courses and bonus cars, giving you something to work towards.
V-Rally provides realism with its real-time damage, handy damage meters, car setup, and super cool first person view. The damage meters are shown on your screen and go from white to red as your car soaks up damage, slamming off boulders and walls. During the progression from white to red the steering gets sluggish, the suspension bottoms out, brakes fade, engines backfire and sputter, and the tranny shifts sloppily. The cars drift and power slide into and out of corners and don’t defy the laws of physics by bouncing off walls like those in Gran Turismo.
Make sure to check out the first person view! This is the best in-car view that I’ve experienced that didn’t cost me eight quarters a pop. You can see your hands on the steering wheel and also see your right hand go spastic, rowing through the gears. This view gave me a lot more visual and audio feedback that I didn’t pick up while in other views. I could see and hear the car slowing down when I was off the main road, something that wasn’t so evident while in other views. A big downer with this view is that when going over bumps, you get tossed around and it is harder to recover and get the car pointed straight. The upside down view after you flip the car is great!
Did I say flip the car? Yep, you will flip and roll your car more than in any other game you have ever played. This can be VERY annoying. Infogrames was aware of this problem and made the time penalty minimal, but I must say that getting flipped over the front bumper while on a bumpy straightaway is really lame. Another complaint I have is that when the brakes are held down, the car will shift into reverse. Basically, this means that you will throw the car into reverse gear trying to slow down while you hear your engine wail its objections.
Car setup is good, you can pick the correct tires and suspension settings for the upcoming stage based on weather and road surface type. Changing the car’s settings to the highest clearance and softest shocks help you avoid front flips a little bit, but this problem never goes away. Also, as an added bonus you can choose between a male or female navigator’s voice.
Graphics & Audio
You know, if Sega got the word out and used games like this to market the system, we wouldn’t be able to scoop up consoles for $99. These graphics are damn good. The colors, textures and very smooth 60 fps help these courses really come to life on the telly. You’ve got to experience the sense of speed that you get while whipping down ultra narrow, mountain roads with huge boulders on both sides! Another one of my graphics favorites was how the rainfall looked. Once you get up to speed and the landscape is blazing by you with rain coming at your face, it is a serious case of sensory overload.
The lighting, reflection, and car models are done nicely and the cars have great real-time damage. I didn’t make it through too many stages without knocking out both of my taillights and also denting up some sheet metal. There are some other nice details in this game, like picture-taking fans that stand in the middle of the road then scurry off as you approach.
Different road noise from the varied terrain, unmuffled engine sounds, the thunk of the gearshift, and the change in the sound of your car noises after sustaining damage help to make you feel like you are really there. Crashing and slamming into objects seems loud and raucous enough, but the roll-overs and flips have either a little thunk or no sound at all. Maybe they thought that if they kept the noise level down, we wouldn’t notice the frequent rollovers as much?
The Dreamcast has turned into a nice console for driving games and a lot of good arcade racers have come out recently, but V-Rally tops them all. It’s packed with 16 cars, bonus cars, four-player support, and there is a track editor/generator. With over 80 excellent tracks in 12 countries, I didn’t see the need to create my own tracks, but this feature would add to the overall replay value of the game. If you like rally games, this one is the current king of the 128-bit world. While more of an arcade rally than a true simulation, I thought Test Drive V-Rally really succeeded in making this a fun experience.
Download Test Drive V-Rally
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
If you're experiencing deja vu it's OK, this game was released last year as V-Rally 2 on the PS. Fear not, it's been totally reworked for the DC, from the physics to the graphics. And considering the PS game was mighty good to begin with, DC owners are in for a treat. TD: V-Rally offers a lot of track variety and a large stable of licensed rally cars to choose from. If you find yourself mastering all the tracks in the game too early, the fully functional track editor is easy to use. In no time you'll be creating your own "widow maker" to challenge yourself and make your friends cry like little girls. The gameplay itself is spot-on. Vehicles feel "heavy" (though not as much as Sega Rally 2) and react realistically to the bumps and curves of the road. Once in a while you'll get a strange hop, usually having to do with too much acceleration over a crest. The learning curve Is perfect, however, so frustration never sets in. The only way to unlock the 10 hidden cars is to beat all three modes of the game on all three difficulty levels. Rookies will benefit from the game's progression, although veterans may find the first half a tad boring. Either way, the entire experience is a blast. If you can stand a four-way split screen, V-Rally even includes a decent multiplayer mode. The only thing tarnishing this game is a little slowdown during certain curves. It's never enough to truly detract from the game, and certainly no worse than Sega Rally 2.
I really liked this on the PlayStation, and I really, really like it on the Dreamcast. As I soaked in the speed, handling and the inspired gameplay, I all but forgot about Sega Rally 2. Honestly it seems like V-Rally is twice as fast. The selection of licensed cars is great and the adjustability is even better. I especially like the steel ring options--they let you tailor your car to fit your driving style. Heavy over-steer for power-sliding, or under-steer for the riding-on-rails experience. The courses are also very well-done. They've kept momentum-killing obstacles to a minimum so it's possible to really haul around these twisty tracks. A must-buy for Rally fans.
I'm a sucker for a cool track editor, and I have to say that I spent a lot of time playing around with V-Rally's. It may not be the most intuitive system ever, but you can knock together a very respectable course in less than 10 minutes. This alone gives TDVR a potentially longer lifespan than Sega Rally 2. As far as the driving goes though, I have to say that it takes some getting used to. It's far too easy to roll the car and, more shockingly, to flip the thing end over end. You can master it though, and once you learn to feather the throttle, you settle into the slide-happy gameplay quite easily. It's not a better game than Sega Rally, but it's close.
Rally fans will remember this as V-Rally 2: Need For Speed on the PlayStation. This summer DC owners will get their own version of Infogrames' consummate rally game, sans the NFS license. What they won't lose are the more than 25 real-world rally cars, the option to race against up to three friends, or the more than 200 miles of racing surface the game has to offer. Test Drive V-Rally is looking clean and quick.