World Driver Championship is yet another racing game from Boss Game Studios, the company that brought you Top Gear Rally. WDC is a racing game that features exceptional graphics - some are calling it Gran Turismo for the N64. While this comparison may be true in the graphics department, the rest of the game can only be called mediocre.
World Driver has four modes of play: quick race, championship, versus, and training. The game doesn't carry any official license for the cars or tracks, but that apparently didn't stop the designers from making cars that are identical in all but name to some very famous real cars. In all, there are more than thirty cars that you can unlock by progressing through the game, which has ten tracks in various locations around the world, such as Hawaii, New Zealand, and Rome. Each track has three variations and can be raced in either direction. Boss must be using the new math, because it claims that the game has more than 100 track experiences. While that may be true in the literal sense, the game really only has ten different types of tracks, with lots of very slight variations. As you compete and do better in the game, you'll get job offers from other teams that want to hire you as the driver. There are 15 teams in all that you can drive for, each of which has different cars that all perform differently. Some cars have better handling and acceleration, while others may have higher top speeds. Even though the cars have strengths in different areas, they all suffer from one major control problem. Every car controls as if it's on an icy stretch of road. For example, just about every time you come around a corner, the back end of your car slides out from underneath it. At times it gets a little ridiculous, like when you're racing a track that has three turns in a row. Your car starts sliding into the first turn, and then, if you just point it in the right direction it magically slides around the rest of the turns. This type of slippery car physics makes the gameplay a little unrealistic and frustrating, mostly because you're always riding the brake or slamming into a wall. If you're a fan of Ridge Racer-style physics, this is, of course, a good thing.
Graphically, World Driver Championship is quite beautiful. All the cars and tracks look very convincing. The game has normal and hi-res letterbox modes that don't require the expansion pak. In either mode, the game has a very crisp, clean look to it. As most N64 racing-game fans know, racing games on the N64 usually suffer from one of two things: pop-up or fog. World Driver, however, is one of the system's first racing games to have a minimal amount of each. This was accomplished by using strategically designed tracks that help hide the track building pretty well. These cleverly designed tracks also allow the game to have up to eight vehicles onscreen at one time, although when this happens the otherwise constant frame rate does falter.
The music in the game is of the glam-rock type - lots of cheesy repetitive guitar licks and lots of bass and snare drums clashing over and over again. I'll take a plain, nondescript techno beat over an annoyingly repetitive rock ditty any day. The one good thing about the music is that it can be turned off. When off, you can here all the authentic engine sounds - that is, when you listen carefully over the constantly squealing tires.
In the end, World Driver Championship is an average racing game with exceptional graphics. The game's incredible visuals give you a sense of realism for a little while, but the second your car starts to do an excessive slide around a turn, it kind of falls apart. The game also never really gives you the sensation of the speed at which your car is traveling, even later in the game when you have cars that can really move. The speedometer tells you that you're doing 120 MPH, but it feels more like you're going 60. While World Driver isn't a bad game, it is a questionable buy. It's definitely worth renting.