World Racing 2 Review

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Graphics: 9.0
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 8.6
Review by John K.
World Racing 2 is the follow-up to Mercedes-Benz World Racing, first released on PS2, GameCube, Xbox and PC back in 2003. Now, two years later, Playlogic publishes World Racing 2. A significant increase in cars and car manufacturers has led to the dropping of “Mercedes-Benz” from the title, and in World Racing 2 players can race with more than 90 cars from 17 well-known manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen and Alfa Romeo.

It is safe to say that Mercedes-Benz World Racing wasn’t a particularly big success on either the console or PC formats, mainly because of the poor graphics, sound, and presentation. With World Racing 2, developers Synetic strive to eliminate all the flaws of the first game and create the racing experience that Mercedes-Benz World Racing should have been. More cars have been included, the graphics have been upgraded, the soundtrack has been revised, car customization has been added, and a more extensive career mode has been implemented as well.

In World Racing 2, everything revolves around ‘speedbucks’, which is the currency that players use in World Racing 2 to acquire new cars and tracks. Speedbucks must be earned in the Career mode by successfully finishing challenges such as winning races against opponents, finishing races under a specific time, or finishing races with minimum damage. After players earn some speedbucks, they can buy cars and tracks in Free Ride mode, and enjoy one of the strongest points in World Racing 2—the joy riding.

While the range of available cars perhaps isn’t as impressive as the Gran Turismo series, it certainly holds its own. With over 90 cars from 17 car manufacturers available throughout the game, the variation is certainly vast. Every car type is represented, from sports to 4x4, and old-time classics to custom hand-built cars. One thing all the cars have in common is that they all exist in the real world and have been modeled with great detail. Each car has original parts from the manufacturer, such as rims, bumpers and spoilers. In World Racing 2, players also have the ability to customize their cars by changing rims and vinyls—thus making the car suit the player’s wishes even more.

The Career mode, which offers over 120 races, is undoubtedly one of the best features in World Racing 2 and will likely keep players interested for a long while. Even though there are fewer career choices to be made when compared to Mercedes-Benz World Racing, the Career mode still offers enough variation in missions to remain both entertaining and intriguing. Beside the normal lap races, there are races where players have to race to checkpoints before a timer elapses, race against single opponents to see whose car is better, race against the clock to show how fast a car is, and race as fast as possible while incurring minimum damage to the car.

Extra speedbucks can be earned during races by performing drifts, where longer drifts give more monetary reward. Players also gain speedbucks by overtaking opponents during races. Speedbucks are deducted for driving unfairly; bumping into opponents is frowned upon and will result in negative speedbucks. Driving errors such as slamming into obstacles or walls will also take away speedbucks from the player. While World Racing 2 offers a wide-open racetrack where players don’t necessarily have to follow the path of the race, taking shortcuts will not only result in the subtraction of speedbucks, but if players take too big of a shortcut, the game will not allow advancement in the race until they go back to the point where they initially took the short cut. This is a handy option to prevent players from taking extreme shortcuts and abusing the open design of the racetracks.

All the cars in World Racing 2 have been modeled to great levels of detail, on both the outside and inside. An amazing amount of detail has been put into engine sound, specific handling, and other physics of the car, thus giving each vehicle nearly 200 parameters for driving physics. Naturally, an impressive amount of Mercedes cars are available in World Racing 2, but a lot of other brands are well represented, too. Several models of the Volkswagen Golf V are in the game, including the GTI. Concept cars can also be found in World Racing 2 and several super cars that only exist in extremely low quantities in real life.

One of the other big selling points in World Racing 2 is the extensive damage system implemented throughout the game. The damage system is very complex and stretches from side-view mirrors breaking off, to delicate scratches against the car’s paint job. In Joy Ride mode it’s especially fun to push the limits of the damage to your car, mainly because it looks absolutely gorgeous in execution and the realism is, well, unreal. After a car has taken a beating, players must visit a gas station to repair it—and then the battering can resume. If dirt gets on the car, all players need do is drive through a puddle of water and wash that dirt right off again.

Another highly detailed feature is the fact that flattened grass, objects, and skid marks stay in place throughout races, even after a restart. Once the player drives over grass, it is flattened and stays that way until the race is completed or the player retires. The same applies to objects that can be bumped or broken, as well as the skid marks that wheels leave when making sharp turns. This is a cool detail added to the game, which offers more realism and makes the player think they are actually in a world where actions have permanent consequences.

World Racing 2 offers both off-line split-screen multiplayer action, as well as online competition. The split-screen function speaks for itself, but game pads or steering wheels for both players are definitely advised. In the online mode, players can meet in a lobby and race with up to six players. Online mode plays quite well, even against lower bandwidth racers, and it’s yet another mode that makes World Racing 2 the entertaining game it is.

But World Racing 2 isn’t just all sheer unadulterated greatness, it has some flaws too. The biggest of these resides with the menu—much as it did in Mercedes-Benz World Racing. Apart from the fact that most players—including this reviewer—don’t like menus without the ability of pointing and clicking, the menu is scattered. Finding certain menu items can be a bit of a hunt and the button layout for the menu, especially the control configurations menu, can be a tad frustrating. Playing with a keyboard can be more difficult than necessary, mainly due to the inaccuracy of the digital buttons. A steering wheel makes the game much more enjoyable, but a game pad will certainly suffice.

Despite the minor aesthetic flaws, World Racing 2 is a success in terms of improvement over its predecessor. The lack of an in-car view with full cockpit might leave some hardcore fans slightly disappointed, but the other features of the game more than make up for that loss. World Racing 2 offers a big list of new cars, new gorgeous environments, and new features that will keep any racing fan entertained—and even those non-race fans will be well satisfied with the experience. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to take an insanely expensive car for a Joy Ride every once in a while?