At first I was really iffy on this game. I like racing games, and rally racing is a frightening new frontier that I didn't easily cross into. In fact when I started this game out I hated it. But after giving it some good quality play time I must say this game turned out to be much better than I had expected. Thankfully there is no hardcore simulation style racing here but arcade style is the way to go. But in that choice some things were left out of the game that could have made it much more enjoyable.
When starting the game you are given a few race modes. There is the Race of Champions which is as simplistic as this game gets. You basically run the stretch of rally course known as Gran Canaria in randomly selected cars against racers who are in whichever class you have entered in a best of 8 bracket system. This mode is the one that will eat away at your patience, for once you think you have the course down a car will be given to you that makes each race a fight to the finish with A class being ludicrously hard, and to top it off you're racing in the rain and mud. Have fun. Following the Race of Champions comes what I found to be the much more enjoyable ROC Challenge mode which in simple terms is like a world tour mode. You start out ROC Challenge in the qualifiers where you need to prove that you have what it takes to be a rally driver. After the qualifying set you get to go through each of the stages of the ROC Challenge which are broken up into various different types of races; Single Circuit Races, duels which will unlock cars, frustrating driving challenges, uphill climbs and more. And if there is one piece of advice I must give, take your time in the driving challenges, you have more time than you think.
One of the cool things about the ROC Challenge is the interesting repair system. When you are in a circuit race you must do a number of races and in the course of those races of course your car is going to take a hefty amount of damage. After each race you are taken to a repair screen and given 20 credits which will last through the circuit races. Now if you really banged up the car you need to take into account how much damage you're likely to incur the next round, so there is a bit of strategy to fixing up the car but keep in mind that the body is the least important part so skip on that unless you're down to your frame. Of course the races themselves are not without flaws with some being simply unfair. The Follow the Leader Challenge is a good example. In this race everyone gets a health bar that depletes so long as they are not in first place. Now I wouldn't have a problem with this if perhaps the point where your health starts depleting were somewhere like halfway through the track rather than at the start of it. By the time you are even in contention for first place your health bar has already lost about a quarter of its contents and the race has only just begun, and the further back you are the faster it will deplete. A qualification system would have been a good idea here to at least soften the blow if you needed it.
Speaking of least important parts... Where is the music? Aside from the demo movie, replays, and the front end menus there is no music while racing, and if there is would someone please tell me how to turn it on. I can only take the revving of engines for so long. Especially when it is a recycled sound clip. And the on board driver can sometimes get grating. Especially when he says, "You wrecked the (beep)ing car." And yes he actually says that.
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