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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
7.0
Visuals
7.5
Audio
8.0
Gameplay
7.0
Features
6.5
Replay
6.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Atari
DEVELOPER:
Eden Studios
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-4
RELEASE DATE:
March 26, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
V-Rally 3

 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on April 30, 2003

Full Review: 30% pavement, 20% mud, 50% snow ? 100% pure boredom rush.


If video games have provided us one unique service it's this: Allowing you to do what you could NEVER do in real life. We've seen this in many recent games, as Grand Theft Auto 3 allowed us all to live life dangerously as a criminal, 007 Nightfire allowed us to feel what it feels like to be a secret agent, and last but not least, The Sims allowed us to make lesbian couples...then watch them, and watch, and watch, and watch... Sorry about that. I'm only human...er, male after all. Anyways...

One thing that many of us could never do in real life is to feel the true power that only a super fast car can provide. Maybe a few of us have experienced the joy that is vehicular speed (there's a lot of empty country roads out there after all), but for the most part, most people have not felt the pure joy that is the mix of adrenaline, fear, and excitement that can only be found when someone is ballsy enough to really put the pedal to the metal.

V-Rally 3, a rally racing game from the folks of Infogrames, is a recent example of a video game that attempts to successfully replicate the almighty speed rush. Though the game displays some fine vehicle physics, great racing areas, and an overall polished feel, the lack of originality and game modes makes the game slip from the "my god this is awesome!" area and into the "Eh...it's cool" zone.

The game starts by allowing you to pick from one of the game's mere three modes that include V-Rally, Time Attack, and Challenge. Challenge and Time Attack are nothing astounding, as Challenge is nothing more than your standard get-a-task-and-do-it mode, and Time Attack is the generic mode included in all racing games that has you racing on tracks to beat your best time. Nothing new about these modes and nothing bad about these modes, just nothing that's really going to shake the racing genre's foundations. No no no, instead, you will be spending most of your time on the game's main mode - V-Rally.

Like most racing game's main mode, V-Rally's features a central interface that will be the starting point for all your rally racing to come. The game's interface consists of a desk and a computer. What good is a computer for a Rally racer you ask? Well, according to V-Rally 3 all league information and contract offers only come through e-mail. By signing contract offers with certain car manufacturers you will then have to go through an entire season using only their vehicles.

This interface is nice but we all know what really matters in racing games - the gameplay, the gameplay, and oh yeah, did I mention the gameplay? Fortunately, V-Rally 3 delivers in this department like a pizza boy with the Playboy Mansion assignment.

In the Rally racing game world, where races can happen on every surface known to man, physics engines are very important to the integrity of the rest of the game. V-Rally 3's developers Eden Studios have thankfully recognized this and given V-Rally 3 the robust physics engine it needs. Trust me, the first time your track switches from thick mud to solid concrete, you will DEFINITELY feel the difference.

The game will also provide you a wide variety of surfaces, as V-Rally 3 offers you a wide selection of levels to race on. Ranging from the snowy mountains of Sweden to the rock-hard sandy grounds of uh...pretty much every friggin dessert in the world, V-Rally is always above average when it comes to level design. Discovering how cool V-Rally's levels are won't be sudden though, as at first little things (the occasional jump, a hairpin turn, a ride through a shallow stream) will be the first environmental aspects to make you smile. Soon though, the more subtle and intricate points of will start to work on you, like how each level is long enough to provide a challenge but not so long that you'll start to fall asleep, or how each level is designed so that it will provide ample but not overwhelming challenge to the player.

Unfortunately, there are a few errors within the grand scheme of V-Rally 3's gameplay that drag the game down somewhat. First of all, let's all just admit it, rally racing isn't that exhilarating to begin with, considering that there's only one car on the track at a time. Ways that previous rally games have moved to fix this problem is by creating levels that are exciting to go through even without other racers bashing into you on a regular basis. V-Rally 3, although offering some thrills here and there, doesn't really provide much of anything too exhilarating, and because of this V-Rally 3's gameplay quickly wears on the common player.

But wait a minute! Haven't tons of other racing simulations before V-Rally 3 had long, windy, boring tracks? Yes, many games before V-Rally 3 have been equally as tiresome as V-Rally 3 eventually becomes but what gets those games higher scores is the presence of deep car customization features. Too bad for us though, as V-Rally 3 offers way too little in the customization area, which is sure to turn off more than a few racing sim buffs.

As far as the graphics go, V-Rally 3 is a real mixed bag. The game runs smoothly, the levels are lush and colorful (with plenty of snazzy wide-open cliff views to boot), and the car models are fantastic, but some effects, like how mud and water flies off your tires, look woefully premature and there's just a general lack of fine detail that can put a real damper on things.

Audio is nothing special but it does the job. The sound effects are timely and work within the game, although they're nothing groundbreaking. The game's music is seldom heard, as not much is exercised once you start really playing the game, but what little is present is good. Finally, the voiced cues you get from your team are quite well done, as they will successfully warn you of upcoming hairpin turns and jumps, boost your ego with compliments when you're racing well, and totally trash it when you're racing like crap.

Bottom Line
Overall V-Rally 3 is a decent entry into the rally racing video game genre, although it's easy to say that it could have been better. If you enjoy rally-racing games and want something to play then go ahead and pick this title up. Everyone else on the other hand should rent before they buy though, as V-Rally 3 is sure to not appease everyone.


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