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V-Rally 2: Expert Edition

  Well anybody who owns a Playstation or has played on one should have played or at least heard of V-Rally.

  Essentially it is an arcade style racing game- you choose your car and then race against many opponents- working your way to first place through each of the courses.  Anybody who has played Sega Rally will know what to expect (it is basically a copy with more cars and levels)

  I have played V-Rally on the Playstation and the N64 (V-Rally 99 or something) and I did not enjoy them one bit.  The N64 version played well and had good graphics, but the co-driver would tell you to turn a corner far too early or you would hit a tree that appeared to be about three feet away from your car, tucked into the side of the road behind a piece of grass.  It just seemed flawed and not very fast.

  That however was the original game this is V-Rally 2.  The game is essentially the same but souped up for the Dreamcast.

Or is it?

 

It's nice to see a car game with an actual driver in it.

 

Graphics:

  The General effects were quite impressive when I first played the game.  The track detail is good- the cars look as they should do and as you drive along they stay pretty and solid with no glitches occurring.  However, compared to many racing games today- including other Dreamcast games- they seem rather dated, that said though there is essentially nothing wrong with them and the detail is still quite high- but you wonít be Ďwowedí by them.

  There is quite a lot of pop-up in this game though, something Iím not a fan of, though I am used to pop-up seeing as nearly every game on the Saturn has it. 

  But I expect more from the Dreamcast. I donít really have a problem if the pop-up is quite small- i.e. if itís only a few trees or far off in the distance, however this is quite close.  It doesnít ruin the gameplay but it just shows me that the company didnít spend as much time on the game as they could have- seeing as all the other Dreamcast racing games have very little pop-up, and many none at all and the effects on other games are much better.

  One nice touch is the damage that happens to your car.  I find that itís always a good touch to a driving game.  But you donít really notice it a first, unless youíre in the Ďcockpití view, so you can see your bonnet being smashed in. 

  Though this doesnít affect the game in anyway.  As far as I can tell your car doesnít lose any power and your steering remains intact and you donít need to fix your car after races- it automatically repairs itself once you finish the race, which is quite annoying.  The reason why this annoys me is because in some games- Speed Devils for example- you damage your car as you are driving and it does become slower and effects how you drive.    For example you might usually take a short cut across a muddy patch, but because your tires are worn and your engine is knackered, the short cut slows you down even more.  And you find yourself wanting to avoid hitting walls and cars because you have to spend most of your winnings on repairing your vehicle instead of upgrading it.  It may seem only minor, but it would have made the game a bit more challenging if you had to worry about the damage- otherwise a very nice touch.

During the Four-player mode nothing seemed to be lost- the graphics stayed the same and playability was excellent- one of the best features in the game, seeing as there are so few Four-player racing games out there.

 

Gameplay:

One word, smooth.  The game runs exceptionally well, perhaps too well hmmm.

  I donít know how to say this but despite the game running smoothly there is something wrong, its just boring.  The tracks look good and are quite well designed but there is nothing to keep me entertained.  You either race past your opponents or you find that there is one that is just too fast- so you feel that youíre on your own as you drive around.

  Also the tracks seem incredibly narrow.  You can see plenty of space either side of your car but the track seems to stay the same thickness all the way along, there are areas that open up a bit- but there doesnít seem to be enough variety through out the races.

  There are small banks either side of the track that you cannot go over and it makes you feel very enclosed.  In many racing games you canít go very far like in Sega Rally or Metropolis Street Racer, but you donít feel restricted and the tracks do open out on occasion, V-Rally makes you feel as though your on rails.

  One nice bonus is the Track Editor- where you can make a track a varied as you like.  One idea suggested in Dreamcast magazine was having a track the shape of the Dreamcast Spiral.  Start the track high up in the air and circle your way down to the bottom.  The editor is very good and easy to use. You can have loads of fun designing your perfect track and have it up and running in a matter of minutes.  However- I found that even the tracks I designed didnít keep me happy, I was still bored after a few minutes.

  Perhaps one element of the game I donít like is that the cars feel too stuck to the road, you never really get any air from jumps, just a little hop.  For example in Sega Rally (if you havenít guessed this is my favorite racing game) on the Desert Level there is a bit with two small jumps in the road, now you donít fly off into the sunset with these, but you do get some air and you can feel you lose control of the car a bit as it lands at an awkward angle. V-Rally goes between two extremes, one side is that your car is permanently stuck to the ground then the other is hitting a bank at the side of the road and your car flips over immediately.

  In V-Rally I made a track where you travel for ages up an incredibly steep hill and then fly down the other side (like a roller coaster) but just before the finish line at the bottom, there is a small jump.  Now expecting my car to take off was far too much.  I wanted the car to hurtle down the hill, hit the jump and be in mid-air (or just landing) as it went through the finish line.  But instead, my car creeped up the hill (as expected) built up a lot of speed as it hurtled down the other side (as expected) hit the jump, my car slowed right down, did a little hop and carried on driving as normal through the finish line.  Not as much fun as Iíd hoped.  Something as simple as that ruined the whole game for me.

  Now though I said that the game was smooth, which it is, it has just come to my mind what could be the problem.  It is too slow.

  In games like Metropolis Street Racer, Sega Rally, Gran Turismo and Sega Touring Cars (Sega Touring Cars Especially) you can feel the power of the vehicle, and each one drives differently.  When you drive at 150mph it feels quite fast (though still not quite real-life) and you are afraid that you might crash and have to slow down for the corners.  In V-Rally the cars say that they are going over 100mph but you feel more like you are doing 30mph and I found the easiest way to win the races is to only brake on hair-pin bends and just keep your foot down for every other corner- because there is no need to slow down. You donít need any skill to play the game, just a good trigger finger to keep your car moving, and thatís what a decent Ďrealisticí driving game needs- for the player to show skill.  Non-realistic games donít necessarily need you to show skill in driving, because they are usually about just having fun.

  

Whoa, these graphics actually look pretty impressive. Take a look at the tree line and the sky. Looks pretty real, eh?

 

Presentation:

  The menu system is pretty easy to use, just the basic move the highlight over to the option you want and press ĎAí. Simple.

  The cars and tracks look great but the tracks are (as I said) Boring.  You can have what looks like a great winding track with jumps, bumps, hills and tight turns- but still the level will be boring and I canít put my finger on it- I just found that the races dragged on.

  The sound is pretty good, the cars sound like cars and (if youíre a fan) the music is pretty good.  Most of it is the typical Ďrockí music that you find in racing games and it does make the game a little bit better.

 

Replay Value?

   

  Try finishing it first- I have tried over and over to play the game.  Each time I start a new file- I think hey ďthis game looks great, the game play is goodĒ.  But after about five tracks Iím bored and stay bored.

  The only things that make the game vaguely entertaining are- the Four Player split screen and the track editor.  But the fun doesnít last very long.

 

The drivers look a bit crammed in the lead car, maybe they should be driving a min-van.

 

Worth Buying Now?

  If you really, really like racing games or you are a huge fan of the V-Rally series (though youíd be the first Iíve ever heard of) then itís worth getting.  But if you love any of the following racing games; Sega Rally 1+2, Sega Touring Cars, Colin Mcrae 1+2, Gran Turismo 1+2, Metropolis Street Racer, Project Gotham Racing 1+2, Virtua Racing even Diddy Kong Racing, Mario Kart.  Then Iíd advise that you donít buy it- maybe try it first.  Just donít get your hopes up. 

  Basically there are so many better racing games out there, especially on the Dreamcast.  If youíre a fan of Rally games then try Sega Rally2 first, or if it were just a racing game that you want, Iíd advise to try Metropolis Street Racer, Ferrari 355 or Speed Devils

 

Summary:

  Itís a pity really.  The Graphics, music and control system are fine and the few little features (track editor and Multiplayer) would usually make for a good game.  But it is let down by the boring races and slow cars. 

  The game feels, to me, to be a poor-manís copy of Sega Rally and could have been done so much better.

  It makes me wish the people at Infogrames burn in hell. Or at least have trouble trying to start their cars before work in the morning.

 

Graphics: 7

Gameplay: 4

Presentation: 5

Replay Value: 2

Worth Buying Now? 1

Overall: 4

~G~