The last rally game to really grab me was Colin McRae 2.0 on the PS2. Sure, I've dabbled here and'there with some NFS games, Colin 3 and even the first two V-Rally games, but the truth is, it's been a long time since a PC rally game has kept me hooked.
So, it's difficult to say whether I'm delighted or annoyed that V-Rally 3 has managed to do just that. It's the kind of game that keeps calling you back to play it in a small muffled voice, even when it's buried under ten other CDs and you know you're supposed to be writing a review for something else entirely.
Come Drive With Me
Probably the greatest assets of V-Rally 3 are its gorgeous backgrounds and completely breakable cars. Graphically, the game is a delight to look at, but don't be fooled - there's just as much substance as style. The career mode is great fun, especially the way you're offered test-drives during the season. If you succeed in your test-drive (which usually means beating the time of a computer controlled racer who's going for the same 'job'), you get to join that team at the end of the current season. And it's certainly worth moving around to try out the different team packages. Among other things, you have to take into consideration attributes such as speed, morale and budget. It's all well and good joining a team with a lightning quick car, but if they have low morale and no budget, that car is unlikely to be uncompetitive at the end of the season.
V-Rally 3 also offers two different classes of rallying. The 1.6 litre engine is effectively beginner mode and sure enough, I managed to win the rally of England by more than two minutes over my nearest nval. However, once you've got a few seasons under your belt in this mode and proved you're ready to cut it with the big boys, you're offered the chance to race in the 2.0 litre 4x4 event. This is not only more challenging, but introduces you to new tracks too.
Talking of which, the amount of tracks available is highly impressive, and they all have a distinct feel to them. You may be able to scream around the French countryside at breakneck speeds, but come Finland and the snow, you'll have to get out the studded tyres and steer in a completely different way.
So, do we love V-Rally 3? In the main, although there are a few odd quirks to temper the overall enjoyment. For a start, your car never leaves the ground, even when it hits the crest of a hill at 115mph. Plus, for some reason aquaplaning induces terrible slowdown.
Apart from that, though, V-Rally 3 is an extremely sturdy rally game. It's not quite up to Colin's standards, but it's not too far off - and it's a damn sight cheaper as well.
Download V-Rally 3
The V-Rally games are widely regarded as some of the best in the genre. So it's no surprise that French publisher Infogrames is continuing the series on the PS2 in 2002. This time around developer Eden Studios has assigned a separate designer to each race course, assuring a unique experience in every event. As of yet, Infogrames has not announced a U.S. release for V-Rally 3.
It can be safely assumed that any racing title from a respected publisher will contain a certain basic set of features. You should be able to find, in a rallisport title such as this one, gameplay that is based around skidding around corners. On top of that, it should have real car damage. Additionally, you should get realistic, usually high quality graphics. While V-Rally 3 does indeed include all of these features, it doesn't provide any of them at great quality, and also skimps on some of the most important little extras for a rallisport title.
The controls in V-Rally 3 are frustrating, having less to do with real world physics and more to do with turning my childhood RC racer into a full blown rally car. It is not only difficult to adjust to the proper handling required to skid around each corner, but also, none of the cars seem to have anything in common with one another's handling, leaving you to stick it out with the car you've had the most time on.
Little gaps occasionally show through on the graphics inV-Rally 3, with a few poor terrain textures and other little bugs. You can't deviate from the course normally without getting reset to the track, but you can still slip behind certain areas and see some textures up close, like the back of the pedestrian stands, which obviously weren't meant to be seen up close. In terms of audio, my biggest complaint is that the navigator speech references the turns in terms of a numbered intensity, instead of something simple and easy to understand, like easy or hard turns.
After playing for a great deal of time, I've got to say that this is one of the rally games I haven't enjoyed much lately. I wouldn't suggest it.