With all the rally racing games coming out these days, it's easy to get confused. In fact, the name of this game alone is enough to cause a few contradicting opinions. EA's Need For Speed series is one of the best and most recognized series of driving games to hit the PlayStation. But the first game in the EA's V-Rally family was met with disappointment by both rally racing crowd and weekend racers alike. More a completely new game than a sequel, the latest offering in EA's Rally series delivers the authentic rally experience while remaining somewhat true to the classic Need For Speed formula.
There are four gameplay modes to appeal to every sort of rally racing fan. There's an arcade mode, for people who don't especially like to hit the brakes; a championship mode, for people who want to compete against three other cars for the rally championship title; a rally trophy mode, which is more like actual rally racing; and a time trial mode. You can also tweak your car settings, repair your car, and even create your own tracks. Once you're on the actual raceway, it's rally racing with a Need For Speed twist. Your car corners and handles as it actually would, your navigator is there to point out upcoming turns, and the clock tells you exactly where you are in the standings. The arcade mode is a bit more forgiving on actual car physics, but the rally championship and trophy mode are nice and accurate. You can also unlock more-difficult settings as you complete each mode's challenge. While the first challenge tends to be pretty easy, the challenges soon get extremely difficult and force even the best rally racers to be quick with their fingers.
The graphics are right up there with Need For Speed: High Stakes. All the car models look extremely believable and accurate, down to the driver and navigator inside the car. When you corner, your car will pitch with just the right amount of realism, and all the backgrounds look exceptional. Running into things will result in damage to your car, from dings in your fender to cracked windshields. The frame rate runs extremely smooth, and pop-up really isn't that much of an issue. Unfortunately, you can only get three other cars on the track with you, but in real rally racing, you're never on the same track with other cars, anyway. Once you're done racing, the replay mode loads without any delay, and the graphics look really sharp. The driver inside the car will struggle with the steering wheel as you fly around corners. The cars will suffer damage when they hit obstacles, and your navigator looks perpetually worried.The audio is standard Need For Speed fare. A subtle mix of edgy hard rock and generic Euro-techno pounds over the musical tracks. The attention to the sound effects is rather stunning. Each car has a specific engine whine, and you can even hear the slot noise of the drivers yanking back on their ratchet-style shifter.
As you would in a lot of rally racing games, you'll often find yourself fighting a fishtail in V-Rally 2. Indeed, rally racing requires a whole new outlook on racing. Most of the time you're on gravel or dirt roads where cornering is trickier than you may be used to. Fortunately, your car handles exactly the way you would expect it to. Pulling a hard left will make your car slide right, so getting it through a series of hard turns takes a little practice. This makes for an authentic rally experience and sets V-Rally 2 apart from other games in the Need For Speed series.
One of the most ambitious features in V-Rally 2 is the ability it gives you to create your own tracks. Once you get bored of the 80 tracks already in the game, you can go straight into the track editor and design your own. You control everything from turns, to elevation, to country. While this is a great addition to any racing game, a few simple features are missing from the track editor, such as an option that lets you make a track cross itself or one that lets you create a junction.
V-Rally 2 is officially sponsored, meaning you can choose from 16 licensed rally vehicles and race to unlock ten official bonus cars from past Rally licenses. All the vehicles look and feel authentic, down to their realistic paint schemes. However, as the tracks in official rally racing are always changing, EA chooses not to copy real tracks. Instead, it has created tracks that have the look and feel of the countries the race takes place in.
Another excellent feature in V-Rally 2 is the multiplayer mode. You can choose to race with up to four friends, providing you have a Multi-Tap. Even with four players racing at once, the frame rate is beautiful, and pop-up is still bearable. Without a tap, you can race in two-player mode, with all the usual options.
V-Rally 2 truly has something for everyone. With an arcade mode for casual rally fans, a downright hard-core mode for the true rally fans, and everything in between, V-Rally 2 is the premiere PlayStation rally game. Loaded with exceptional features and play modes and great graphics and sound, V-Rally 2 is a complete rally racing package.