Variety is a spice of life and World Racing 2 has it all.
Actual score: 8.3
When it comes to racing games, it’s really dominated by a few big budget developers as some examples are the Need for Speed series and Gran Turismo. However it seems the public is welcoming newer developers like the recent Codemasters’ Grid however there is still a common element that all of these games are ‘Americanised’. So I looked into the European market as realistically they are the true champions of racing and considering the F1 is the second most watched sports in Europe (soccer being the first) motivated me to search for a European developer specialised in racing games. So World Racing 2 attracted me as it was made by Germany’s Synetic GmbH and better still, you’ll get to race on the famous and very detailed ‘Hockenheimring’.
Straight off the mark, World Racing 2 looks and feels like a very ambitious project. Like most racing games, there is that career and free play mode however what’s impressive is that in the career mode there are 72 races to complete whilst in the free play mode there are over 90 cars to buy and 170 plus tracks to purchase. On top of this, World Racing 2 has a simulation, arcade or a mixture of both styles of game play so new comers and hardcore enthusiasts will equally enjoy the game. As a side note I selected the simulation with no break assistance and mixed between manual and auto transmission and even used the keyboard for steering.
Whilst free play mode tends to be the more favourable option, career mode is where the hard cash is. The cash is in the form of ‘speedbucks’ and depending on how you perform determines the outcome; for example ramming your opponent will cause you to loose speedbucks whilst driving on 2 wheels will increase and so on therefore the game encourages you not just to win the race but to be tactful and daring as you possibly can; so you can say ‘winning isn’t everything’ if you can pull off some very audacious stunts! But naturally winning unlocks more tracks and cars and as expected at the start of your career you will be driving the slower types of cars (e.g. the VW Golf and the Mercedes 300SL) and as you become more proficient the better cars will be unlocked (including the marvel Mercedes C291 which can pull off over 400km/h).
Considering this is a European game anticipate European cars (e.g. Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, VW, Lotus, Wiesmann and Rinspeed to name a few). In addition there are six huge locations (Italy, Egypt, Miami, Hawaii, Hockenheimring and World Racing 2 very own ‘Race Center’ which is a mixture of everything jammed together) and the styles of racing can range from drifting, average speed, damage limits, waypoints, medals, knockouts or a combination of these (average speed, damage limits and being in the top three for example). On top of this the majority of the tracks really need some tactical and well thought out planning than just driving (e.g. using the booster at the precise right time or instead of zigzagging try and drive as straight as possible to gain momentum).
Sadly (and like many other racing games) the AI is not consistent. Granted that they are also not perfect in driving as some will topple through gaps or make a total fool of themselves (e.g. missing the bridge jump and tumble into the water below) however they have a remarkable ability to catch up real fast. On the flipside, if you are having issues driving and not getting too far behind the pack, the AI will slow down therefore you can catch up, so you can easily use this to your advantage as in some races where you be able to literally dangle behind the pack and then zoom past at the last second to take the crown. Beware that this tactic doesn’t work all the time (especially the ‘catch me if you can’ races) and if an AI car suddenly spins out of control there’s going to be a good chance you’ll collide but don’t let that deter you as it’s part of the fun of racing.
Visually World Racing 2 is very pleasing to the eyes. Considering the maps are very large indeed everything on the map is drivable (as long you have the right car to do this). That said (and especially in the free drive mode) the game makes you really feel like you’re actually there whether it’s in Italy, Miami, Hockenheimring and so forth. The 3D images are detailed, the water has a nice reflection and it’s good to see that the developers took great care in the presentation of all the cars. Every car emulates like the real thing from the tires to the chassis and even the position of the review mirrors. Personally my favourites are the Noble M400 (and its ‘cousin’ M12 GTO 3R) and the VW Nardo W12; seriously I cannot get enough of these two. To make things more realistic, World Racing 2 has an excellent damage model that’s very cool to take a snapshot in the beginning of a race and then at the end and see what punishment the car has taken. Naturally the more punishment on the car the performance will decrease (e.g. doors can simply fly off its handles or in the worst case scenario the engine blows up).
Racing enthusiasts hopefully agree with me that sounds plays a very important part in any racing game and thankfully World Racing 2 lives up to that standards – well almost anyways. The general sounds like slamming through barricades, skidding and so forth is quite good however there is room for improvement. The car engines don’t really produce that ‘oomph’ sound and really is a disappointment considering what the entire package consist of. Yet the ‘in house’ music is a blast to boot as there are twelve songs and each of them worth listening too as a standalone and really gets you going and thankfully World Racing 2 has a music manager where you can add you own selection and mix them up to your liking; so bring on your best racing tunes and believe me the better the songs the better the driving experience.
As explained above, World Racing 2 has a lot to offer – the many choices of races, cars, tracks, career modes, music choices and so on therefore when it comes to value, you’ll get your dollar’s worth down to the last cent. I know some racing games are a real pain when you race the same track over and over again just to gain cash however this is not the case in World Racing 2; considering there are over 70 tracks in career mode and each one feels totally different to each other (e.g. the waypoints can be driving through a car park, skimming through a desert, zigzagging through a busy part of a town or even climbing a mountain) boredom will not kick in at all. To those who want to complete the entire game will take some serious time (I clocked at 115 hours but that’s including everything – career and joyride and still counting).
Another sign of good value is the multiplayer aspect. Some games have this ‘ghost’ car image however not here – it’s free for all to slam, crash or simply boast and as an added consultation prize there is a good modding community that has more cars (e.g. the Porsche) and locations (The Swiss Alps and ‘my backyard’ the good ole Australian Outback). All it takes is a simple download of an additional program and voila more driving mayhem.
That said, racing games have to be more than just racing around tracks if they want to live beyond the ten minutes mark otherwise boredom can kick in rather quickly. World Racing 2 offers many different elements of racing that tailors the hardcore and noobies alike with the many different types of racing options (drifting, average speed, medals, knock outs, waypoints and so forth) and the gradual learning curve is a sure attraction to any racing enthusiast. With a good modding community to add to boot and as the saying goes ‘variety is a spice of life’ and World Racing 2 definitely fits in that category – a sure winner so crash da car in the most spectacular way!