V-Rally Edition '99
The originally excellent PlayStation rally game finally reaches the N64. Any good?
When V-Rally first came out on the PlayStation it met with pretty-much universal acclaim and is still popular even now, well over a year later. Which is why, when Infogrames announced an updated version of V-Rally for the N64, there was considerable excitement. After all, in the intervening period they would have been able to make it something totally amazing, wouldn't they? Well... wouldn't they?
As in the PlayStation version, V-Rally '99 allows you to play in both arcade and championship modes, plus there is also a time trial option thrown in for good measure. Arcade mode is pretty much the same as in the PSX game, with you pitted against three other cars plus the added challenge of a timer counting down and checkpoints you must reach to continue.
In Championship mode you race through eight different countries, completing three stages in each to gain championship points. A change from the original version of V-Rally is the choice of playing the championship in either 'Rally' or 'V-Rally' mode. The latter is like Arcade mode but without the checkpoints, while the former involves racing alone on each stage in a more 'realistic' rally situation similar to the recent PSX title, Colin McRae Rally.
V-Rally '99 is very, very similar to its PlayStation parent and this is in fact the major stumbling block, because V-Rally '99 could easily be mistaken fora PlayStation game! The cars are nicely detailed and have obviously involved a great deal of work, but the tracks themselves seem to have been ported across directly from the PlayStation, complete with blocky textures and popup! Recent N64 converts from the PSX will remember the two-dimensional trees and spectators from the original - and they're back! For those of you that think pop-up doesn't matter as long as a game runs fast, try the night stages! Whereas the beams from your headlights flow realistically over the surface of the track itself, the lighting at the sides of the road and on the scenery ahead looks like someone is hitting a light switch every few yards! It totally ruins any feeling of realism.
The cars handle fairly well, but some of the track features are extremely annoying. For instance, on some sections you can race along, slide up a bank to the side and still carry on, no problem. At other times, however, you clip what appears to be a harmless grass verge at the edge of the track and your car spins totally and unrealistically out of control! Similarly, some comers you can cut, yet others are blocked by the old invisible wall trick. Considering this is a rally game, it doesn't allow for much off-road action!
Multiplayer mode is also disappointing. Huge borders notwithstanding, the detail is greatly reduced and the pop-up is, if anything, even worse than it was before.
Basically, what you get with V-Rally '99 is a game that is already very dated. When you consider that the PlayStation version is now selling on Platinum for £20, the N64 game just isn't worth the money. Ardent rally fans might want to give it a try as one of only two rally games on the N64, but if you're expecting something special you're going to be disappointed.
2nd rating opinion
V-Rally was pretty good on the PlayStation, but V-Rally '99 is like a bad port, right down to the blocky graphics! Car control is far too slack, the roads feeling like they're coated in ice, and the slowdown is game-wrecking. Even Saturn Sega Rally played better.
Download V-Rally Edition '99
Finally, the N64 gets an 'arcade' racer to compete with the PlayStation's best. Fast, furious, and freaking hard. V-Rally is terrific.
Great rally game. Best action racer on the N64.
The N64's been short of competent driving games for so long, it's a pleasure to welcome V-Rally onto the machine. More than 20 different countries with Rally simulation and Arcade modes, make for more of a game than Top Gear could ever offer.
Which Car? The vehicles are split into two main categories - Kit and World Rally Cars. The kit cars need to be driven more carefully but are less likely to fly off the track. The four-wheel-drive World Rally Cars (WRC) allow you to take lots of corners at high speed but. because of their looser handling, are prone to leaving the ground. Beginners should start with either the Citroen Xsara or the Toyota Corolla, depending on their preferred driving style.
Stick to the centre: There are a few courses which allow you to drive over grass and snow in certain sections but most of the time the invisible edges of the track will cause you a lot of grief. As a result, it's safer to stick to the track.
The cars don't like terrain that isn't smooth and the slightest bump means they're out of control (Sweden SS5 has an S bend at the start which illustrates what a small margin there is between the flat snow and the part to avoid).
Ignore The Rest, Be The Best: V-Rally is essentially a time-based game, so you'll do far better if you ignore the other drivers as best you can and concentrate on your driving The opposition aren't affected by checkpoints and will happily shunt you into a ditch to get past, so get ahead and stay there.
Braking: If you intend to play with a 'brakes are for wimps' attitude don't expect to get very far - the tracks are designed with careful braking in mind. The regular brake is best used to drop your speed for narrow easy and medium turns, while the handbrake is ideal for swinging the back end of the car around tough corners so that you only need to straighten up a little afterwards.
Car Control: Keeping your vehicle under control at all times is the key to V-Rally. Should you appear to be losing your grip, stab the brake button a little to regain control.
Crashes: As long as you avoid these you will win the race (obviously). However, should you actually go careering into a wall don't panic. The easy way to get yourself back in action is to hold Left-C until you're placed in the middle of the road but this takes time. Alternatively, if you're travelling backwards, adjust the wheels to swing yourself around the right way.
Another useful piece of advice when recovering from a crash is to use the rear view to avoid your opponents - if they hit your car you'll go flying.
Road Rage: Although generally you should avoid all contact with your rivals you can, when the opportunity arises, get some revenge for all those early race shunts you took at the start. The trick is to hit them when they slow down for a corner, as this will send them spinning and allow you to overtake with ease (England SS5 is ideal for this).
Bumps: When you encounter a stretch of bumpy road, keep the car straight and drop your speed. Tackle a series of bumps at top speed and you'll lose control.
Suspension: As a rule, use soft suspension for bumpy terrain, and hard suspension for flat tracks.
Gear Rations: If the course you're about to race is a slow winding one. set your gear ratios to short for better acceleration. If the course has easy bends and long straights then set the ratio to long for better top speeds. Each setting affects your maximum speed by 10km/h.
Championship mode: Save after each country's rally. That way you can retry the courses if you don't get enough points.
V-Rally Ford Escort: To drive around in the game's first secret car you'll need to finish the first Arcade level.
Lancia Stratos: Difficult, to say the least, but worth the effort. You need to set a new Time Trial record for every track, including the Expert courses.
Lancia Delta Integrale: You need to break the records for every track featured in Arcade mode.
Toyota Celica GT-Four: One of N64 Magazine's favourite cars. To sit behind the wheels of a flash new Celica you must break each country's rally mode times on World and Expert mode.
Dream Cars: Complete the game with an overall performance rating of 100% and you are presented with tour Citroen 2CVs to race with.
Expert Championship: Finish the World Rally to unlock the two-leg. one-lap, four-course Expert mode (phew).
Expert Arcade: A little tricky this one. You need to smash the total times records on all three Arcade levels before you can access the devilishly difficult tracks that make up Expert mode.
Extra Time Trial Courses: Once the Expert mode is available the tracks are open for time trialing.
View Expert Times: Set a new record for each track (including those from Expert mode) in Time Trial and you'll access the blacked out part of the options screen.
I am a huge fan of racing games. Furthermore, I am an even bigger fan of off-road racing games. I really like the idea of ripping through the mud, splashing through the water and tearing up the sand. So even though Rally racing is not very big over here in the states, the idea of it really appeals to me. Unfortunately, most of the rally games released have failed to deliver exciting gameplay. I keep thinking that the next game will fix all of the problems of rally games past and provide solid and exciting gameplay. I guess I will have to continue waiting for the next one.
V-Rally 99 has all of the window dressings to lead you into believing that it is a good game. There are 11 official rally cars, over 40 tracks, tons of different racing and weather conditions and adjustable car settings. With features like this, you would think that the game had a chance. Unfortunately, the game looks and plays like a first generation PlayStation game.
I am going to be nice and start out with the good points of this game before going into the bad. While the list of good is pretty short, it has to be topped with the number of tracks offered in the game. There are over 40 different tracks made up from eight different world locations. These locations include the Alps, Indonesia, England, Spain, Safari, Corsica, New Zealand and Sweden. Each of these locals have tracks and weather conditions that you would find fitting for these regions. For example, the Alps has you racing through winding mountain roads in the snow. The Safari tracks have you racing through the jungle on sandy roads. There are enough combinations to keep the tracks interesting.
The other bright spot the game has to offer is the real rally cars. It was kind of cool to be able to race the sort of souped up cars that you can see driving along the freeway next to you. The cars include a Mitsubishi Lancer, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Ford Escort, and some specialized kit cars. You can customize the cars for the tracks and your racing style by changing your steering, gearbox ratio and suspensions. You will get some time out of making adjustments to the car and finding what works best for you and your driving style.
That is about it for the good so I will go into what I did not like about the game: I guess my biggest complaint was that, well, the gameplay is just boring. I am playing a racing game, which should require my full attention and concentration, but I constantly found my attention wandering. I could not wait for just about every race to end. I guess I don't know what it was about it that I found so unexciting but I just could not get pumped up to race.
I guess part of what made the game boring to me was due to the poor collision system. If you run into anything, your car will slide around as if it were on ice. It just did not feel right. I got to the point where I did not really care if I plowed into a tree. I knew my car would just slide or spin around and I would be off on my way. Either that or I would bounce around the track like a pinball. There were a few times when the crashes were a bit more severe but for the most part they just felt completely unrealistic.
Above, I mentioned that one of the good parts of the game was that there was a high number of tracks. The more I think about it, this may have been the cause of my boredom with the game. It is almost like they spent too much time coming up with track varieties and not enough time making good, solid tracks. I would rather have had 10 solidly designed tracks over 40 so-so tracks any day of the week.
The best way that I can describe the graphic in this game is first generation PlayStation. All of the backgrounds are flat looking and the textures are poor. The cars have absolutely no detail whatsoever. Hell, this game almost looks like it could have been pulled off on the Super Nintendo instead of the N64. I guess the game did remind me how far other racing games have come over the last four years.
I think it is pretty obvious that I was disappointed with this game. Like I said, I really like racing games and this game just did nothing for me. That tells me that if you don't really care for racing, you will probably hate this game. The graphics were poor and the collision system just removed any amount of realism that the game had. I don't think I have ever called a racing game boring but that is the best way to describe it but at least you have 40 tracks to be bored on.