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WRC 3 PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Evolution Studios
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

WRC 3, or to give the game it's full title WRC 3: The Official Game of the FIA World Rally Championship, is the third title in the WRC series on PlayStation 2. Last year we looked at the second one and it was an extremely impressive rally game. WRC 3 takes the series forward with increased damage modelling, better handling and improved car details. The PlayStation 2 already has more than it's fair share of very good rally games so can WRC 3 top what's already out there? Let's take a look.

WRC 3 offers a World Rally Championship, Single Rally, Test Track (which is actually a series of test tracks to practice your driving skills), Head to Head, Time Trial and Quick Race. There are four difficulty/realism levels, novice, professional, expert and extreme but only the novice and professional difficulty levels are initially available to you as expert and extreme have to be unlocked. It's great to see that the championship mode supports up to 4 players but at the same time it's a shame that the game doesn't offer online play. Aside from online play, it's difficult to suggest what else could be added to the game as it's pretty much a complete rally experience.

What most of you will be concerned with are the cars and the stages. WRC 3 does not disappoint. The game features 21 cars in all, which includes all 7 of the WRC 2003 season cars. You also have 7 WRC Extreme cars and even five WRC concept cars. Before you select your car to drive you'll be able to look at the car in full detail via the 3D car explorer. You can even 'explode' the car, that is to say the parts of the car will temporarily separate so that you can admire the work that has gone into the various components of the cars. The cars also seem to handle better this time too. The stages look slightly better than before and this time around the new Turkey WRC event has been included, to add that extra touch of authenticity.

WRC II Extreme looked great and WRC 3 certainly looks good too. Unfortunately there is a bit of graphical pop-up this time around, which is a bit of a disappointment. To make up for it though the car models are even more detailed and they come in this years liveries too. The damage modelling is also more impressive as the car crumples and the glass smashes quite impressively. The environmental detail for the various locations and stages (you'll see more surface changes within a stage this time too) in the game has also increased somewhat too and whilst it's not a huge improvement, it still looks better. Of course the framerate is all important and you'll be pleased to know that it remains smooth throughout. You also get animated roadside crowds this time, which makes a change from the usual cardboard cutout ones that we so often see. There are also motion captured pit crews and celebration sequences. WRC 3 definitely tries to get away from the cardboard cutout aspect that so many driving games have suffered from in the past.

We've mentioned several times before that it's very difficult to subtitle a driving game, especially a rally title where horrible bends in the road are common place and you can't take your eyes off it for a second, and thus subtitles would obstruct your view. Deaf gamers have to rely on the visual pace notes, which are the direction icons that appear onscreen and are colour coded to denote their severity. You'll also notice bridge visual pace notes and caution pace notes which warn you of rock or other such roadside dangers. In WRC II Extreme the pace notes could be a little confusing as rows of up to three icons appeared at once. In WRC 3 this doesn't happen and it's much better for it. It would have been nice to have seen icons to notify you of car damage though. The video clip that introduces the championship was not subtitled, which is a shame. I was verbally told by my co-driver that my radiator had been damaged and a couple of seconds later black smoke bellowed from the front of the car. Deaf gamers would simply see the smoke and have no idea what damage had been caused. It's not essential to know what the damage is but it would be good to get increased visual feedback.

The PlayStation 2 is blessed with some fine racing games and some especially fine rally simulations. WRC 3 is certainly as good as any other rally title on the console. Is it better than Colin McRae Rally 04? Well it's difficult to say really. Personally I would say the better car models and more realistic damage modelling make WRC 3 slightly better but both are excellent in their own ways. If you are a PlayStation 2 owning rally fan though this game is simply a must.

Overall Game Rating: 9.2/10
WRC 3 is a superb rally simulation that pushes the Colin McRae Rally series every step of the way and in some areas is even better.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No real problems although it's a shame that the World Rally Championship mode introduction isn't subtitled.