World Rally Championship 4

World Rally Championship 4 - PS2 Review

World Rally Championship 4 - PS2 Review

Sony's WRC series has made leaps and bounds in development since its first incarnation a few years ago. WRC series has always had the official license and this is one reason why some people have preferred the WRC series to the Colin McRae series. Others argue about the handling and realism of the cars and the scenery. This will be a long debated argument between the McRae fans and the growing WRC fans.

Well to start with I will get all the official stuff out of the way. WRC features all 16 rallies that span five continents including the new rallies of Mexico and Japan . In total there are 100 different stages to master which range from point to point special stages to the circuit based head to head super special stages. All the cars are here including the new Peugeot 307 plus the group N4 class and super 1600's. There is also the addition of the extreme cars which Evolution Studios have added for extra measure. These cars are similar to the WRC cars but they are generally wider, meaner and faster versions which can be unlocked later in the game.

  World Rally Championship 4 - PS2 Review

As you can see WRC 4 seems to have tied up everything that is and is not official about the World Rally Championship. WRC 4 also offers a huge amount of modes to choose from including the obligatory quick race and time trial. These modes will give you a quick introduction to the game but the really good stuff can be found in Championship and Events modes. The Championship is available initially with two difficulty settings professional, which is the full game with WRC cars in its easiest mould and then there is expert mode which ups the anti and makes winning tough. Later in the game you can unlock the super 1600's and the group N4 class. Lastly there is the Extreme mode which is also initially locked. This is the WRC Championship which stars the Extreme WRC cars created by the people at Evolution Studios. This is possibly the most difficult to beat rally game ever when played in its extreme guise. The Event section is not quite as long and intense as the Championship mode; you will be able to compete in single rallies, test track mode as well as the super special challenges which are the head to head races around generally tight stadium tracks.

I almost forgot the online multiplayer mode, the first of its kind in a game of this type. The online multiplayer mode enables 16 players to battle it out over varied terrain at the same time. In itself this mode is very different to anything you will have seen before. Each car you race against appears as a ghost, so this lets you see which lines the other people are taking and you know exactly where you rank in the race without crashing into anyone. It's a great system and it works very well, there is no slow down or any lag, which is very important for a game of this type.

The actual game play and handling in WRC 4 is outstanding and the best I have ever experienced. The cars handle better than ever before and while some people have mentioned that the WRC games in the past have had a dodgy handling system where the car pivots on it centre I can see no sign of dodgy physics here. This is something which people have got hung up about, but if you ask me, if it feels good and realistic what more can you ask for and this is what WRC delivers in abundance, fantastic realism. The handling varies massively depending on which type of surface you are driving on. You will probably find some surfaces suit you better than others. Driving on the ice and snow requires very small movement of the joy pad while the tarmac demands quick reactions. When participating on a gravel stage the name of the game is to keep the maximum amount of speed though all corners. You might think by driving safely will put you in a good position, this is the wrong thinking. Driving on the edge is the name of the game. On thing for sure is that WRC4 has a fairly high difficulty setting, but it doesn't feel as difficult as WRC 3, this is due to the improved handing and the control you have over the car which lets you negotiate corners at higher speeds and make the car do as you wish, once you have had a bit of practice on each type of road surface you should be up for the challenge. Even though some rallies pose a big challenge it is never demoralising because you know where you can improve. It is worth mentioning that the same driver will very rarely win two rallies consecutively and each car and driver seems to have better performance on certain surfaces. Other drivers even drop out of some rallies due to heavy crashes. For example on the first three rallies, without any practice I came third in the Monaco Rally, first in the Rally of Sweden and sixth in the Mexican Rally. After three rallies I was in the lead with 19 points and Sebastian Loeb was in second place with 18 points consisting of one first place, one second place and one DNF. So long as you score points in each rally you are sure to be in with a chance of winning the world championship.

Graphically WRC 4 has improved massively, it looks amazing. When driving in the snow you will see snow compacting in your wheels as you corner, rocks and stones will fly and smash into your wheel arches as you hammer it around the gravel rallies. The cars look the dog's bo****ks too, they are comparable, if not better looking to all the cars seem in the Gran Turismo series. Even the scenery is incredibly detailed and beautifully presented. The only thing that lets down the scenery are the trees which are still very nicely detailed, they are the same two dimensional efforts found in other games. The effect of the sun shining on icy roads and blinding your view is something that has to be seen to be believed. When you crash your car or scrape the sides you will be presented with the best damage effects I have ever seen, the detail of the scratches that go through to the metal is brilliant as are all the other damage effects like broken lights and crumpled body work. Even the drivers have been

The audio is also no slouch, the cars all sound like the real thing. You can here the dump valves releasing pressure from the turbo, the cars backfire when you lift off the throttle. The cars all sound genuine and very close to the real deal. Some of the best sound effects can be heard when you are driving on gravel as the stones are thrown up and smash into the wheel arches and body work. The rest of the audio is pretty similar to the previous games such as the tyres screeching and the sound of the car crumpling when you crash. There isn't much in the way of music in WRC 4 apart from when you are in the menu screens.

Rally games just don't get any better than this Evolution Studios have pulled out all the stops. Even if WRC 4 didn't have the official FIA license it wouldn't matter, it would still be the don of all rally games. The longevity of WRC 4 is massive, you have all the modes that you could ever wish for and then there is the online mode which could keep you busy. There is only one way to describe WRC 4, it's the Gran Turismo of the rally genre.

9.0 out of 10


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