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December 3, 2005
WRC: FIA World Rally Championship - Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
23/11/2005SonySonyTraveller's Tales
Save Size Difficulty Players Rating

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Ohh look, some effects.
We have to admit that we quite enjoy rally games. Be it Sega Rally in the arcades, or the realism and handling of Colin McRae Rally there's something special about being able to slide out around a corner which a 200 foot drop only centimeters away. Sony, however, have the official license from the FIA which means this is the only game with the 16 official rally events from around the world, including authentic Super Special Stages. As well as that WRC includes 30 cars, including Evolution and Extreme specs, and all 17 registered drivers from the 6 official WRC manufacturers. This game is certainly loaded, but does it play well? Read on to find out.

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The graphics can be bland.
The first thing to note about this game is that it wasn't developed by Evolution Studios who have developed the very respectable PS2 titles, but rather has been developed by Travelerís Tales. We're not sure if the even used the same assets as the PS2 games, you see this is a very different title in many regards. After a slick FMV intro you're asked to create, or load if you've already played the game, your profile before heading onto the menu. From the main menu you have a choice of Quick Rally, Time Trial, Single Rally, Championship and Multiplayer. Nothing too obscure here with the Championship likely to take up the majority of your time.

When you start the Championship you have the choice of difficulty, car manufacturer, car, and co-driver. It must be said that even on the standard difficultly levels this game is pretty tough, but this is where the game strays a bit from the normal rally games. Firstly the game puts ghost cars on the track showing the position ahead of you. This gives the game a bit more of a race feel, and we sense this was a commercial decision to make the sport a little more action packed then the normal race against the clock as in real life, but the ghost cars also act as a distraction. We also weren't too keen about the fact that you have to finish the races in a certain place. The first stage of your first race, you must finish in the top 4 to continue. Why? It's not like that in real life.

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Replay time...
In terms of multiplayer I was pretty disappointed with the game from the fact that most of the modes are turn based meaning you're racing against the clock set by others rather then racing together. Sure, I can understand that this keeps with the way real rally races are run, but it would have been nice for everyone to play together and race at the same time either on modified racetracks, or with ghost cars.

There are some other problems. The handling of the car seems a little slippery at times, start to spin out and regaining control can be a chore. The damage to cars is quite impressive with windows cracking, bumpers hanging off and panels being damaged, but there were some sections of the track where you seem to hit invisible barriers, come to a sudden stop, but don't sustain any damage. The damage to the cars, while visible doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference to the performance of the vehicles. Perhaps this is to keep you in the race, or perhaps the PSP couldn't cope with the additional calculations, whatever the case it's disappointing.

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Cars get deformed and dirty.
Graphically WRC shapes up well compared to other PSP games, but isn't quite up there with the PS2 games in the series. The texturing isn't nearly as sharp and there is the occasional but of popup in the distance. I guess this occurs to keep the frame rate steady which the developers have accomplished. In terms of audio the PSP's speakers seem to make the car noises in this game a little high pitched and tinny. Music is pretty, well, crap. There's some known bands here such as Franz Ferdinand but in general the music just doesn't do much for the game.

WRC isn't as good as the PS2 games, that much is clear. Almost every aspect feels cut down be it the handling of cars, or the graphics. Still, if you love rally games, and want the official drivers, teams and locations there really is no other option. It's good, but not brilliant. One for racing fans.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSThe texturing is a little murky, some popup, but a solid frame rate.
SOUNDThe music is pretty average, and the effects a bit tinny on the PSP.
GAMEPLAYCar handling is a bit twitchy, official license adds interest.
VALUEThere's not a lot of game modes and multi-player disappoints.
OVERALLWRC isn't anywhere near as good as the PS2 versions, which is disappointing given the PSP's power. Perhaps it was the switch of developer. Who knows. One for rally fans only.

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