The last rally game to really grab me was Colin McRae 2.0 on the PS2. Sure, I've dabbled here and there with some NFS games, Colin 3 and even the first two V-Rally games, but the truth is, it's been a long time since a PC rally game has kept me hooked.
So, it's difficult to say whether I'm delighted or annoyed that V-Rally 3 has managed to do just that. It's the kind of game that keeps calling you back to play it in a small muffled voice, even when it's buried under ten other CDs and you know you're supposed to be writing a review for something else entirely.
Come Drive WIth Me
Probably the greatest assets of V-Rally 3 are its gorgeous backgrounds and completely breakable cars. Graphically, the game is a delight to look at, but don't be fooled - there's just as much substance as style.
The career mode is great fun, especially the way you're offered test-drives during the season.
If you succeed in your test-drive (which usually means beating the time of a computer controlled racer who's going for the same 'job'), you get to join that team at the end of the current season.
And it's certainly worth moving around to try out the different team packages. Among other things, you have to take into consideration attributes such as speed, morale and budget. It's all well and good joining a team with a lightning quick car, but if they have low morale and no budget, that car is unlikely to be uncompetitive at the end of the season.
V-Rally 3 also offers two different classes of rallying. The 1.6 litre engine is effectively beginner mode and sure enough, I managed to win the rally of England by more than two minutes over my nearest rival. However, once you've got a few seasons under your belt in this mode and proved you're ready to cut it with the big boys, you're offered the chance to race in the 2.0 litre 4x4 event. This is not only more challenging, but introduces you to new tracks too.
Talking of which, the amount of tracks available is highly impressive, and they all have a distinct feel to them. You may be able to scream around the
French countryside at breakneck speeds, but come Finland and the snow, you'll have to get out the studded tyres and steer in a completely different way.
So, do we love V-Rally 3? In the main, although there are a few odd quirks to temper the overall enjoyment. For a start, your car never leaves the ground, even when it hits the crest of a hill at 115mph. Plus, for some reason aquaplaning induces terrible slowdown.
Apart from that, though, V-Rally 3 is an extremely sturdy rally game. It's not quite up to Colin's standards, but it's not too far off - and it's a damn sight cheaper as well.
Cheap as chips and just as tasty
- Very slick career mode
- Must adapt driving style to conditions
- Looks wonderful
- Great value for money
- Some slow down
- Poor physics system