One of the first games I ever played on the original Playstation was V-Rally 2 and I was quite fond of that game. You can imagine that V-Rally 3 was a title I was eagerly looking forward to playing. You can imagine my disappointment when I actually started playing it and found out that V-Rally 3 has hardly any improvements over version 2 and alot more negative points to it. But let’s get on with the review.
A racing game needs good graphics and fast gameplay. That’s something I think everybody agrees on. Next to that there better be also some pretty good AI for the opponents and if you’re a sim lover you’ll probably want some possibilities to tune your car (the more the merrier).
Graphics are not up to par in V-Rally 3. Yes, the damage models are cool with bumpers flying off and being able to finish a race with only half a car left, but that’s about all that’s good with V-Rally 3’s eye candy.
You’ll see parts of the track appear when you get nearer to it but not like in modern games where stuff gradually appears but you’ll see stuff popping up in an instant while a second before, nothing was there. Fauna and flora are pittiful bitmaps and the different shades used to show the track are so much the same that you’ll often have trouble keeping staying on the road.
Making it even worse, your co-driver doesn’t seem to know the tracks and often seems to fall asleep while you are heading for a hairspin or be more interested in the amount of car damage than keeping you on the road. To compensate there’s some plates appearing to give you an idea of the gravity of a corner, but a roadmap highlighting your current position would have been a tremendous help.
And we’re making it even worse than you could ever imagine. Your cars are unpredictable and often make you feel like you’re bouncing from one corner to another rather than driving. Keeping a car on the track is a challenge itself already.
There’s a career mode which hardly has any use except to keep you from playing. Don’t think of any feeling with your driver as the only thing this career mode offers is pain and utter frustration.
You start off by reading your emails where you’ll see that you have to start by testing for several car manufacturors. These tests consist in finishing a track you’ve never seen within a certain time limit and with as least car damage as possible.
Having a not-tuned 1.6 engine and a Citroen Saxo or something similar under your butt, I can tell you that that is not easy. Especially as your car seem to have no way of havign any feeling with the road. You can jump from the slightest bump in the track, but for the same money you’ll notice your breaks not breaking when you really need them.
Once you’ve accomplished this, you can start racing and you’ll notice that every “year” you’ll have to do the same 4 rallies. Fortunately every rally season has 5 stages so it doesn’t become too boring and repetitive. During pit stops, a hardcore techy can adjust tire pression, brake balance, and other stuff if he wants to, while other less-technical people can just replace damaged goods.
The first season has you driving for a small team with hardly any moral which results in having a car which handles like a 1960’s Daf but the “good” news is that you’re only expected to finish around 12th place to go to the next season and with only 16 drivers and several cars falling out each race this is not impossible.
After the first season you’ll be able to go to a better team or have a better car and from then on things start to improve. Before long you’ll have a car that is tuned so good that you will not have a hard time winning all races in the 1.6l class.
After a couple of seasons you’ll get a “promotion” and will be able to drive in the 2.0l class and get a much more powered car. This so-called promotion, however, is a pain in the ass as you can start from scratch again. Your car will again drive like the ride from hell because all performance statistics get reset to zero and the horrible pain you’ve encountered the first seasons in the 1.6l series will be back faster than you can imagine. Again you’ll notice that things improve after a few seasons, but I wonder how many people will have the indurance to go on with this game that long.
If you want to just do a quick single race, the possibility is there. “Hurray! Some fun at last”, one might say, but forget it. There’s on escaping the career mode as most tracks have to be unlocked through it.
Oh yea, forget about simultaneous racing against your friend as multiplayer has you drive one by one as the developers say that such detail is hardly possible with 2 drivers playing at the same time. I suggest they talk with the people that created Gran Turismo 3 and GT Concept…
To make things worse, saving will take a huge piece out of your memory card as a save game takes up no less than 2 MB.
Overall, V-Rally 3 might have some fun facter hidden somewhere but the design flaws make it so hard to discover that most people won’t even bother trying to find it after having played for a couple of hours.
I suggest that you go out to buy Gran Turismo 3 in budget or Gran Turismo Concept if you’re into racing.