4 Reviews

WRC Powerslide

A milestone for XBLA racers, or just another also-ran?

This might sound strange, but the first thing you notice about WRC Powerslide is the camera angle. It presents an elevated view of the action, as if being filmed by a Greylag Goose making its approach to land.

In other words, it's halfway between the behind-car view of, well, any WRC title and the top-down perspective of Micro Machines, which is entirely fitting for a game aiming to combine the giddy, skiddy thrills of a rally sim with the knockabout fun of a weaponised arcade racer. These two disparate elements gel surprisingly well, but some bizarre design choices stall it on the starting line.

Zoom

First, the good stuff. It looks reasonably pretty, and the perspective offers some fine views, especially when you're racing through the mountains and get to gawp at the yawning abyss ready to swallow you should you steer a bit too far to the left.

Not that you'll often find yourself skidding off the beaten (gravel) track: the handling sensibly errs towards the arcade, but not so much that you'll be able to treat corners as you do in Mario Kart (unless you're particularly nifty with the handbrake). There's a wide range of tracks and vehicles to unlock, and the power-ups, when enabled, add an amusingly combative element - even if they're all variations on weapons we've seen in other arcade racers.

Unfortunately, each positive is accompanied by a caveat. The unusual viewpoint means that scenery can occasionally obscure the track, and it can be impossible to tell which roadside obstacles can be safely driven through, and which will bring you to a sudden halt. The structure of the single-player game is bizarre, forcing you to learn the ropes on one of the toughest surfaces (snow) for four tracks before you can choose another course. Plus, many of the later stages won't open up until you've beaten a track with three car classes.

You can't turn power-ups off without removing collisions, which ends up leading to the disconcerting sight of cars driving through one another. Nor is the difficulty adjusted to compensate for their loss: we managed to win 18 straight races once we were accustomed to the handling, and we're totally rubbish at regular WRC. With a bit of fine-tuning, Powerslide could be a championship contender. As it stands, it's still a few tweaks away from being truly race-ready.

By Chris Schilling. Editor's note: sorry for the wait, Sid. Buy WRC Powerslide here for 1200 MP.

The verdict

Design bumps dent an otherwise solid racer

  • Terrific, responsive handling
  • Knockabout four-player fun
  • Camera angle offers nice views...
  • ...but can obscure the action
  • Odd single-player structure
6
Format
Live Arcade
Developer
Milestone
Publisher
Microsoft
Genre
Racing / Driving, Action

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