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Posted: Nov 4, 2004 @ 08:06 pm GMT-0600
Updated: Feb 17, 2023 @ 01:18 pm GMT-0600
Sorting Tags: Article Review, Article Software, Articles, WRC 4,

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Platform: PS2
Development Company: Evolution Studios
Publisher: SCEE
Release (UK): 22nd October 2004
Review code: Pal
Wide screen mode: Yes
S/Sound: Yes
60Hz: No
Online content: Yes

Evolution Studios have released the fourth instalment in the World Rally Championship series. As Codemasters release their 5th attack on the market and SCI throw their spanner into the works, how will WRC4 rival Colin McRae Rally 2005 (CMR05) and Richard Burns’ Rally (RBR)?

The main advantage WRC4 has over any of its rivals, CMR05 and RBR is the FIA licence. This allows the players to drive all the famous rally cars on stages they see on television. Is it enough alone to take the crown? Of course it isn’t but it is a massive plus for WRC4.

Physics: With this title and in all previous WRC games, Evolution Studios have sat on the fence when it comes to simulation or arcade, trying to walk to tight line between the both to offer a realistic representation of the sport but also to make it accessible to all players. If we study the rally games on PS2, the main three, Colin McRae Rally 2005, Richard Burns Rally and WRC we could come to the conclusion that each game is in a league of its own, let me explain. I think it’s fair to conclude that the Colin McRae series is geared towards the arcade gamer, RBR is for the hardcore petrol head and WRC sits somewhere in the middle, much like RalliSport Challenge. So although all three games are rally titles they’re targeting different audiences and this is something forgotten by many editors/players. Yes they’re all have Rally in the title, powerful cars driving at dangerously high speeds on roads too narrow to drive at 40mph but it’s the way the cars handle physically that separate them, I won’t go into the differences as this isn’t a Simulation Vs Arcade article.

As WRC4 is half sim and half arcade the cars won’t handle in the same manner its real life counterpart will. It is my opinion that this game is trying to offer itself to all gamers but with a degree of realism. As the game has elements of both the game can still catch you out, for example, go into a corner too quickly and you cannot simply counter-steer and bury the throttle as you will do a one-eighty and cover everyone in dust. A gentle balance of throttle and counter-steer is required to negotiate the stages. Also the braking isn’t so forgiving, you have to brake much earlier then expected to make a corner otherwise you have to make a detour to which your co-pilot shouts abuse. In a nutshell, WRC4 isn’t like Colin – floor the accelerator and drift – McRae Rally but isn’t as technical as Richard – Be careful or it’s game over – Burns Rally.

WRC4 is the next step up from CMR in terms of difficulty and realism.

Gameplay: The game is entertaining, it allows you to drive at high speeds through twisty roads without coming off the road too often and inciting anger, much like RBR did to some players. As you accelerate through roads lined with trees and building the sense of speed is high, not as much as RBR but it is there. However, when you’re on open roads, which it is fair to say most of the stages predominately are, the roads are too open and wide and that sense of speed is lost. I had to keep looking at the speedometer to see if I was actually increasing my speed, in my opinion this is a huge rock on the stage for this game. In saying that, if you are new to the sport and love the idea of the genre and going very quickly then this is possible, but to the simmer this will put you off very quickly as it did me.

Game Modes:
Quick Race: Selects a random stage and car and a time for you to eclipse.
Time Trial: Choose a stage and car you’ve unlocked and try to beat your time.
Championship: Choice of multiplayer (1-4 players) and then choice of class (Super 1600, WRC Professional, WRC Expert & Extreme)
Events: Single Rally, Super Special Challenge, Test Track & Pro Driver Challenge
Online: Up to 16 players can rival each other on the WRC stages using live ghost cars (see screenshot at end of article)

Options: Most disappointing. Main issue is the configurations for steering wheels; neither MOMO Racing nor Logitech Driving Force Pro support, only includes Speedster 2 Wheel & Speedster 3.

Other options include profile options, audio, controls and visual. Sadly there is no feature to determine the speed of the pace notes as implemented RBR. Sometimes the notes are too late and you find yourself careering into a handbrake turn at 80mph with no time to slow down.

Graphics: What can I say, this game looks superb, leaves CMR05 in the dust and RBR at the start line. The cars are all recreated in stunning visuals; both the models and textures are stunning, although the environmental mapping is a little too shiny, like RBR. The scenery is spectacular, this was always a big plus for the WRC series in the past but Evolution Studios have gone away and improved them yet again. You can see in screenshots below how stunning the graphics are. The draw distance in this game is truly superb which allows for some breath taking replays, more on that later.

Cars/Stages: With the official WRC licence all the WRC cars are included as you would expect but there are a further 3 classes to unlock, the Super 1600, WRC Expert and then the Extreme Mode. Sadly it doesn’t offer the array of cars that Colin McRae Rally 2005 does but it’s an improvement on previous years and Richard Burns Rally.

Stages included are from 16 WRC locations spanning 5 continents with photo realistic textures. As commented on above some of the stages are just too wide but others are extremely tight. It’s a shame that you cannot park up and view the gorgeous scenery coupled with the magnificent draw distance. The stages are realistic to their counterparts, as you would expect, for example, Rally GB is wet, muddy and woody, whereas the rally of Catalunya is tarmac and sunny. Stage loading times are average whilst the other loading times between menus are fine.

Audio: Taking full advantage of the surround sound you can hear the savage beasts pop and bang, the tyres squealing and scrabble for grip. The audio is very pleasing (for an interview about the audio in WRC go here: http://forum.rscnet.org/article.php?a=86) but once again we’ve come to expect this. When you’re watching a replay of your car dancing on the edge of a cliff the replay music isn’t something you really take much notice of but it isn’t intrusive so it is not a negative.

Replays: Outstanding graphics make replays look great, and this is the case in WRC4, you could watch replays over and over again and with great camera angles they look stunning. Exiting the replay is a little tedious; a simple press of the ‘x’ button would be sufficient. The camera views rotate showing you the best of the action.

Damage: As with all WRC games the damage is realistic but the cars are too strong, have a big accident and the car doesn’t deform as we saw with Petter Solberg in Germany. The car will gain damage in the form of shattered windows, dents, missing bumpers but nothing out of the ordinary. Mechanically it doesn’t touch Richard Burns Rally but a number of parts of the car can be damaged, gearbox for example.

Conclusion: WRC4, like in the physics department, is a half way house between arcade and simulation. If you’ve beaten CMR05 and want something harder but for the pick up and play style to remain then try WRC4. It won’t have you throwing your controller across the room like RBR but will test you and beating the stage times can be hard at first. There is a learning curve and may take sometime to master but it won’t be long before you’re pulling handbrake turns and powerslides.

+/-

+ FIA Licence
+ Stunning visuals
+ Cars/Stages
+ Game modes
+ Replays
+ Audio
+ Online capabilities

– Lack of steering wheel configurations
– Wide Roads
– Co-pilot notes can be late equalling frustration
– Damage is a little disappointing

There are no major gripes with WRC4 just a few minor let downs that could hinder the fun. World Rally Championship 4 is brilliant game aimed at being accessible to all audiences and it does that very well.

82%

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