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The original WRC (World Rally Championship) was a bitter blow to fans of rally games, and illustrated some of the most short-sighted, blunderous and cynical decisions in videogaming it's possible to make.
In a storm of publicity showing Gran Turismo-beating graphics and genre-busting, unbelievably expansive levels, a true rally sim was promised; a sim so concise, it would have Codemasters and its market-leading Colin McRae series petrified.
The early builds reflected this. A brilliant and dedicated development house, Liverpool's very own Evolution Studios, knew what was required of it. And it delivered a cracking rally sim.
Then something terrible happened. Towards the end of the development, Sony stepped in and demanded that the game be toned down, made more accessible and easier to play. We played a late pre-release version - two attempts at a race - and set a pretty good time. It was beaten by a non-gamer who just drove across the sides of the roads in a straight line. Something that could have been beautiful was ruined in a fit of greed and a misunderstanding of what rally fans wanted.
A key member of the development staff was as frank as he was mournful. "They told us to tone it down, so that's what we had to do," he said.
Anyway, this is the third in the series and is arguably the only contender to Colin's crown, discounting arcade-led offerings such as V-Rally.
It would appear that certain allowances have been made to accommodate what the series should really have been from the start. At long last, WRC 3 offers a decent challenge. You now have to be precise, you have to listen to your co-driver, the surfaces are varied and well managed and it's graphically excellent, given it's housed on a three-year old console.
Frustratingly, the marketing budget for the third and best instalment of the series has been drastically cut from that enjoyed by the original, and we hope that this, combined with the fact that adopters of the first game were arguably deceived, will not impact on its sales as Sony has finally allowed the game to live up to its illustrious license. In other words, it's a really good game, so buy it.