One of the better games with a cousin on the PSX or X-Box, the V-Rally series have always been the best rally games out there and the third installation in the series doesn't disappoint.
Apart from the fact that I'm rubbish at racing games, I can still appreciate a decent game. And decent this is. The shiniest rally game I've seen to date, and certainly the most addictive.
There are 3 options: V-Rally, Time Trial and the Challenges. A V-Rally is where you race for a season at a time. You get three teams to choose from- Volkswagen, MG or Citröen. You only get a specified number of attempts to gain a place in the teams, after which you have to start again. When you pass, however, it starts off a constant race to be the best. If you lose a race then you incur the wrath of your boss, if you win a race then you receive praise and jollity for your great performance. If you crash/smash/bash your car too much, you have to wait during a race for your car to be fixed. If you are good enough, you are invited into the damned-near impossible 2.0l Championship.
The time trial, obviously, is where you race against the computer's time which, to the inexperienced is very very hard, as the computer drives likes a full professional. The challenges are much the same as time trials except there are 3 races in different parts of the world instead of just 1. These are easier than the V-Rally and the time trials, except that your difference in time is recorded over the three races, so if you have 2 relatively good races but one insanely bad one, your aggregate time goes way down.
There are a few grievances I have with V-Rally 3, firstly if you do venture of the track you are usually returned and placed back on the straight and narrow. A little too often though, the game does not realise you have hit the scenery, so you will have to try to manoeuvre you car so it does return you back to the track. Occasionally when you simply can't move you will have to abort the rally. This is incredibly frustrating and you might find you PS2 controller in the garden due to your sheer anger and rage.
Secondly the steering way too sensitive, even on the lowest setting it seems excessive. However you will get used to it after a while, but you do feel like your treading a knife edge and you never feel entirely in control or comfortable when throwing the car into corners.
Thirdly there are only 6 countries in the V-Rally championship, what an earth happened to the rest?
Last of all V-Rally has not managed to get across the impact of travelling up or down steep hills. You will find that the camera angle will change from being a rear-view trailing camera to an almost overhead camera angle. Otherwise though the camera work is pretty good.
The graphics in this game are amazing. When you go under a mountain it gets darker, your rear window reflects the trees, helicopters and birds with startling reality; your car gets dirty, snowy or scratched when you go over hazardous terrain and, in my view best of all, BITS FALL OFF YOUR CAR!! During every race I raced in, either my bumper, wheels or bonnet fell off and flew down the road. You can go off road for a little way before you are redirected, or not, and the little way you can go is still as startlingly realistic. The co-driver's still as annoying as ever, if still bitty which brings down the reality of the game. Even with the co-driver's lack of fluency.
At the end of the day V-Rally is up against WRC and the forthcoming WRC 2 plus the imminent Colin McRae Rally 3.
Whether you go for WRC or V-Rally will be entirely down to personal preference, WRC focuses on the full championship with fantastic recreated actual WRC stage tracks. The handling, sound and graphics are all very good but you may find it a bit easy. With V-Rally they have gone down a more realistic road. You only have 30mins to repair you car and it will breakdown mid rally. The vehicle set up for each rally is much more in depth. You also have to pick your team and keep them happy, once you have won the 1.6 championship you will then be able to progress on to the 2.0 championship, which is very tricky to master.
Once you have mastered V-Rally you will find it very rewarding, it is a true and very worthy opponent for any rally fiend.