V-Rally 3 Review (Xbox)
As the sport of Rally Racing becomes more popular in the United States we as gamers get to play more and more rally racing games on our precious home consoles. One of the latest rally games to hit the store shelves is eden studios’ V-Rally 3. Although it’s been available on the PS2 for quite sometime the game has received a small face-lift for its recent XBOX release. Sporting a $29.99 price tag and noticeable improvements the question has got to be; is it worth it?
While the look of this game is much improved from the PS2 version it still is not up to the same standards as other rally games on the XBOX. Although the vehicles look very nice (each created with up to 15,000 polygons), the environments tend to have a somewhat grainy look to them. I must admit, though, that one nice touch is the fact that you will be able to see visual modifications to your car depending on how you set it up as you select your options between stages during the rally. Also, if you happen to take your eyes of the course immediately in front of you, you may just happen to see wild life running along or across or along side of the road. It doesn’t really help the environment of the game, but it was kind of neat to see the first couple of times. For those of you with the capability to play on an HDTV you will be happy to hear that this game does in fact support 480p.
For whatever reason, V-Rally does not support in-game Dolby Digital. I realize that this is a port from Sony’s PS2, but with all of the other improvements that had been made with the graphics and frame-rate I would have thought for sure that this game would support it. Overall the audio is a mixed bag. The engines and the sound of changing gears come off ok, but other sounds are nothing shy of terrible. It has been a long time since I’ve heard the sound of a car running into a tree or crashing sound so bland. The opening intro and replays sport your garden-variety generic sound track while other menus tend to tone it down a little. Other than that there really is nothing worth talking about here as the game really should have sounded much better.
One thing that V-Rally does do right is its many modes of play, to include Quick Race, Time Attack, Challenge, and V-Rally. Before I get into to the good let me give you the bad. First and foremost, before you go out and get this game you must know that the control will take some getting used to. If you are looking for a realistic experience when it comes to the control you may want to look elsewhere as the game’s biggest downfall is its control. I will admit that it can be made better by making adjustments on your vehicle, which is nice, but it’s just not possible to make it good enough to be called realistic by any means. You do have the ability to set your car up however you like as there are plenty of tuning options at your fingertips, but no matter how much you tune it, it just doesn’t feel right. Another nice touch is that for those of you who are not wrench monkeys there is a nice little animation and description of how adjusting that part will effect the car’s speed and handling. The tuning options at your disposal are without a doubt one of the games strongest features.
Now it’s time for me get into the meat and potatoes of this game. When you start out in the V-Rally mode you are sent an email from a couple of different car manufacturers sending you an invitation to come and tryout for their racing team. For every tryout you accept you will go and race a one-stage time trial with that team manufacturer’s car set with default settings. Once you complete your tryouts and accept a team’s invitation you are taken back to your office where the rally league office will have sent you a welcome letter and wishing you good luck. You will also receive goals set by your team owner. If you meet or exceed those goals you will be invited back to race again, but if you fail to meet them you will not be welcome back. However, if you race well and receive other options from different manufacturers you can always explore your options. After all, it is your career and you are in total control of it. In your first season you will be behind the wheel of a 1.6 ltr engine, but if you race with enough success you may have the option of upgrading to 2.0 ltr engines in as early as your second season. I should also mention that all of the top manufacturers are here, to include Ford, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Citroen, Peugeot and more.
I compare V-Rally 3 to All Star Baseball. Yes I know that is literally comparing apples to oranges, but they really are very much alike. V-Rally 3 features all of the gameplay modes and options you could ever ask for, but unfortunately they just didn’t pull off the driving model very well. If you don’t mind the loose and floaty controls this may be something worth checking out. If realistic driving controls are a must, no matter what the options are at your disposal, then you need to look elsewhere. I tend to lean more toward to latter, but to be honest I did have a little bit of fun during my first year or two of the V-Rally mode. Hopefully the next installment will feature a better driving model and better sound. If that happens, we may have a very good rally racing simulation on our hands.