Thankfully WRC2 does not disappoint. One glance through the various menus illustrates a wide variety of cars, classes, rallies and modes to take on in the quest to become the best rally driver.
The first step of the journey is to enter the WRC Rally School. This features a series of short but sweet tutorials that teach racers the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, or at least keep four wheels on the race track. Ghost cars are provided along with a racing and braking line. These should be used to increase understanding rather than relied upon because once you hit the circuit for real, these aids are taken away. Over the course of the tutorials, players face different stages, track compositions and weather conditions. Each of these has an effect on how corners should be taken. It is the perfect introduction, especially as each lesson can be passed or mastered.
From there, the world is your oyster. Literally! There are races to enter from all around the world, from the stifling heat of Jordan to the snow brushed landscape of Sweden. These can be raced as single stages or single rallies across a variety of different classes. It is also a nice touch that a full customised championship can be pieced together from races and stages across the world.
The feature at the heart of WRC2 is ‘The Road to the WRC’. Players are tasked with building a team from the ground up, creating a reputation and rising through the ranks. It all starts slowly and with a clear path of progression. Abilities, paint jobs and so on are unlocked at certain reputation levels. After an initial season players can only choose one race programme to undertake, but there is the promise of more and actual choice down the line. The end goal is to impress enough that an official WRC team will take you on board and give you the chance to pursue a championship title.
Races can be quite fun. There is no need to worry about overtaking or opponents running you off the road thanks to the nature of Rally stages. However, one eye will be on the split time differences at all times. There is a lot of information to take in at any one time during the race, so make sure you give each your attention at the correct moment. One glance sideways at the wrong time and you could be heading for the drop that your navigator warned you about.
One of the gripes within WRC2 is that the damage model isn’t very accurate. It is very possible to throw the car over bumps, into rocks or barriers and continue on as if little had happened. It doesn’t feel quite as punishing as racing can actually be. If you are expecting a full-on sim-like experience, this element does not live up to expectations. If you make one mistake too many there is also a rewind feature that has become standard in racing games. This is an optional touch that can be turned off or toned down to take away that sense of temptation.
WRC2 is certainly a fun game to play. Cars can be thrown around corners a little and there is a great feeling of satisfaction when power-slides come off. The damage model contributes to this in a way because players will feel that they can attempt to use every inch of road. The varying surfaces do add a challenging element as what was a quick corner on tarmac becomes a different beast when there is gravel or cobblestones on track for example.
If all the single player options aren’t enough, there is also the option to play local multiplayer in Hot Seat mode with up to three other people or venture online. It is somewhat unfortunate that split screen is not provided for. Obviously cars couldn’t interact, but ghost cars or clear tracks would have been a bonus.
For those looking for a hardcore sim-based title, WRC2 may not be the title for you. It is not top of the class when it comes to visual detail or ground breaking realism. However, WRC2 is fun, there is plenty of life in it considering all the ways to play and it is an accessible title.