Don't be fooled by its name. V-Rally 3 is actually the fifth entry in this driving game series, which at one point fell under both the Test Drive and Need for Speed umbrellas and has spawned games for the PlayStation, Dreamcast, PC, and Nintendo 64 in its five-year existence. Previous V-Rally games included both hard-core simulators and more arcadelike driving games that had greater appeal for casual players. This latest game for the PlayStation 2 certainly contains more qualities of the former group than the latter, and it could have been a great driving sim were it not marred by its poor control.
A lot of the textures, particularly those for gravel, look extremely grainy and washed-out.
Like most rally games, V-Rally 3 features a whopping 20 licensed 1.6- and 2.0-liter cars from recognizable rally participants like Mitsubishi, Opel, Hyndai, Subaru, and Citroen, among many others. The game will eventually take you through six different rally events--Africa, Germany, England, Finland, Sweden, and France--each of which is made up of four individual tracks that are raced in both directions, for a total of 48 tracks. As has become the norm in such games, you race against the clock and not other drivers in V-Rally 3, and your ultimate goal in each rally is to have the fastest overall time across all of that event's tracks.
But the most notable aspect of V-Rally 3 isn't what it shares with other rally games, it's what it does differently. Specifically, it's the game's impressive career mode. You'll start out the game by creating an inexperienced driver who will receive offers to test-drive a number of 1.6-liter FWD rally cars from certain racing teams. If you impress these teams with your race times at these test-drive events, you'll be offered a one-year contract that'll get you into the 1.6-liter FWD rally championships. These championships are split up into multiple seasons, with each season spanning four different rally events, and with each rally event consisting of five individual races. The 20 teams in V-Rally 3 are ranked in staff morale, car reliability, season performance, and budget. Obviously, you'll attract offers only from teams with low-ranking characteristics at first, but if you perform well in any given season, your team's ranking will increase accordingly. Changes to your team's rank will have a noticeable effect in the game, too. A higher budget, for example, means that you'll have access to a wider variety of tires and tuning options, while a higher staff morale means that crucial repairs can be performed more quickly at the service areas, where you're given only 30 minutes to fix any damage your car has sustained.
If you've met the goal requirements of a team at the end of the season, you'll be offered a contract renewal. At first, these requirements are easy--place in the top 13, for example--but as your team's stature improves, its demands on you will increase. Your character will also improve from season to season. You have ratings in four unique traits--velocity, experience, consistency, and goals--that will increase or decrease depending on your performance at the end of each season. As these four ratings increase, you'll be approached by better 1.6-liter teams with higher rankings, better cars, and more stringent demands. When you place first overall in the 1.6-liter championships, which can be accomplished in a single season, you'll start receiving offers from 2.0-liter AWD teams. The 2.0-liter championships are made up of six rally events, not four, and they're generally a lot tougher than the 1.6-liter championships. Again, the better you do here, the higher your team's ranking gets, the more your personal ratings will increase, and the more offers you'll receive from better teams.