WRC: Rally Evolved - Review PS2

Just in case you have lost count this is the 5th WRC game in the series. WRC games of the past have always been very good, however it's quite a controversial subject as to which is better Colin McRae or WRC. Personally I thought WRC 4 was the best rally game available, for me it did everything right and very little wrong. Read on to see if the WRC series has actually evolved as the title suggests.

WRC: Rally Evolved

Firstly Evolved has loads of modes on offer including single rally, single stage, rally cross and the main event, the championship mode. Unfortunately something has gone wrong with the championship mode, now each rally only consists of three stages which is a real disappointment. However the multiplayer part of the game has been improved so now you can race with three other mates using a multi tap or play online with up to 15 other players. This kind of makes up for the disappointing championship mode and it should add some extra longevity to the game too.

Evolved now offers far more cars that it has previously, from the word go you will be able to choose from either the 1600 class or the WRC class. Each of which feature all the current cars in the real world competition. Also available are historic cars from yesteryear, concept cars and the extreme cars you will have seen in previous instalments of WRC. So now, if you choose, you can use a 1600 class car rather than having to stick with the WRC cars.

One of the biggest additions to Evolved is environmental hazards which are also one of the greatest additions to the series. Environmental hazards come in many forms such as wild animals, rocks and trees. You will also see your competitor's cars broken down on the side of the road if they have had a nasty "off" at some point. The crowds are even more psychotic than usual and jumping out of the way just before you hit them. The great thing is, these hazards are never the same on each stage, even if you repeat a stage the hazards will not always appear in the same places, or not at all in some cases. This is a great addition that adds a touch more realism to an already realistic game and it always keeps you on your toes.

When you are about to start a race you should change the driver aids setting. This consists of steering assist, break assist and traction control. With these switched on full you will find the game basically does all the work for you. When these settings are switched off the game becomes a challenge. When I first played Evolved I absolutely hated it, I was convinced it wasn't even developed by Evolution. It felt so different, the car is far more sensitive to all your inputs and can spin due to too much throttle in the corners, this becomes extremely frustrating. That is until you start to understand the cars physics and capabilities. Evolved has become even more simulation based in terms of car control. If you're not convinced that the car is handling as well as it could be, there is a set up menu which will let you alter the cars set up. And yes it does make a difference, not necessarily easier but more responsive should you get the set up correct.

The graphics certainly have evolved, the level of detail has greatly increased. Water effects and reflections are probably the most impressive feature. You will see mud and water splash on to the screen also, which is a very nice effect and it also adds a touch more realism. The cars are also improved, not quite so much as the environments though. The damage effects are good but not much different to WRC 4 in terms of detail.

Unfortunately, the sound doesn't seem to have faired quite so well. The Subaru sounds like a droning bumble bee, then when you hear the engine back fire the realism is really shaken, it sounds to me like someone has just dropped a dustbin lid on the floor. I really can't tell you how disappointed I was. In my opinion the sound effects in WRC 4 were far superior. However the co drivers do sound clear and concise.

It feels like WRC Evolved has hit a couple of speed bumps in its evolution. The championship mode does not last long enough. For longevity you can unlock some hidden extras as you progress through the championship mode. Otherwise and the more likely reason to come back to Evolved is the online and offline multiplayer portion of the game. Evolved is far more of a simulation that any of the previous games in the series so you will have to give it some time to get used to the sensitive characteristics of the cars. The sound effects are pretty naff to be honest, some people haven't found them as offensive as I have, so you will have to make you own conclusions about that. Apart from these points WRC Evolved is a very good game and faithful to the sport it represents. It would have been nice if it could have evolved a little more before release.

8 out of 10