V-Rally 2 Expert Edition
|a game by||Eden Studios|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Get yourself a console and a rally game and you know you're in for a riot, especially in split-screen mode. Indeed, the original V-Rally was a massive hit on the PlayStation and the sequel has been selling, not too shabbily, on the Dreamcast for the past few months. Like the first, it's a completely unrealistic slice of arcade action, with decent tracks, strict invisible barriers to stop you from crushing the onlookers and only a slight nod towards visible damage, with brake lights deciding not to show themselves if you slam into the banks too hard. Turn your car on its head and you'll be miraculously righted almost instantly, and no matter how many times you crash, or ram an opponent, you won't be stopped from progressing. It's rally-by-numbers, but it's fun.
Pass The Console
The original V-Rally was eventually ported onto the PC and greeted with the sort of enthusiasm that cricket spectators save for the first drops of rain. The second is likely to follow suit. But it's not a bad game and we've actually got a bit of a soft spot for the V-Rally franchise. However, put this up against thoroughbreds such as Rally Championship or Colin McRae (which is on budget) and things donl look quite so hot.
The graphics are passable - although pop-up is still visible on certain tracks - and there are some nice touches, including visible headlights and spectators running for cover as you scream around a corner. The different surfaces work reasonably well, if a tad exaggerated, with snow-covered tracks turning into the art of timing your slide to your codriver's instructions and the respective coloured arrows that pop up at the top of the screen.
To get through the first set of tracks all you need to do is concentrate on the horizon and tap the left and right directions regularly to keep righting yourself. Occasional use of the handbrake and brake can shave seconds off your lap times, but quite often it's just as easy to slam into a bank and accelerate oft. Things get harder later on - the barked instructions are non-stop and the comers as treacherous as anything the Belgian Grand Prix could throw at you in the rain!
Different play modes include Standard Time Trial, Arcade, Trophy and Championship, and to progress and open up the theoretical maximum of 80 circuits and 26 cars you have to work your way through sets of tracks, with your cumulative time for the lot taken as your finishing position. This means you can't relax even you're way out in front.
There's no option to race online against others, as usual. Lag is still the suspect that is dragging down the station every time we ask about the absence of proper multiplayer support, but there are enough people with high-speed connections. to make it worthwhile. It's also the feature that could make a console conversion like this.
4x4 Evolution is due out soon and that's promising multiplatform racing across the Internet, so any excuse is soon going to look pretty hollow. By way of compensation, you can register with V-Rally 2 Online and upload scores and tracks (made with the supplied editor), but the only true multiplayer action is two-player split-screen. It's fun, granted, but if you're already privy to a decent rally game then there's nothing here that should make you think twice about shelling out for more. As for the Expert Edition tag? If this is for experts, we'd like to see the version designed for those with learning difficulties.