V-Rally 3

V-Rally 3 @ www.contactmusic.com
Get muddy with it!

For anyone new to this game V-Rally 3 on the XBOX is an enhanced version of V-Rally 3, which was released for the PS2 in October of last year. The most obvious improvements to the game are the visuals, which include special effects that Eden Studios were not able to implement in the PS2 version.

The other noticeable improvement to the Xbox version of the game sees the handling of the cars made more responsive and the tracks a little wider--keeping the game simulation oriented but making it a little more accessible.

"V-Rally 3 on Xbox is not a lazy port of the PlayStation 2 version," said Larry Sparks, vice president of European marketing at Infogrames. "The great work done on the handling and the in-game special effects gives V-Rally 3 its own distinctive identity on Xbox and is a great way to introduce this legendary racing franchise on to a great console."

There are 3 main modes: V-Rally, Time Trial and the Challenges. 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 for your 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 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 the difference in times 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.

The graphics in this game are second to none. The locations are all beautifully rendered and so are the cars. When you drive under a mountain ledge it gets darker, your rear window reflects the trees, helicopters and birds with startling reality; dear run across the road, your car gets dirty, snowy or scratched when you go over hazardous terrain. 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 constant flow of instruction is at first hard to work with, although, once you get used him he will become so important that you would be lost without him.

The rally market is one of the most competitive genres in gaming and I believe V-Rally 3 is a very worthy contender. You could argue all day about which release is the best & with Colin Mcrae also being available on the Xbox the competition is tough. One thing that seperates the two titles is that V-Rally 3 has much more involvement "behind the scenes" you have your own office, and get more options and choice regarding your path through the game.

If rallying is your thing then V-Rally will also be your thing as far as rally sims go. V-Rally 3 on the Xbox is as good as it gets.

V-Rally 3 @ www.contactmusic.com
V-Rally 3 @ www.contactmusic.com
V-Rally 3 @ www.contactmusic.com
V-Rally 3 @ www.contactmusic.com
8.5 out of 10