World Driver Championship

WDC should find an interested audience from N64 race fans looking for a Gran Turismo – style ride. Even though it has a few serious flaws. WDC is still worth revving up.

Cool Career

WDC’s unique career mode is definitely the game’s highlight. Instead of the usual formula of wins earning cash, the game puts you in the role of a rookie in a racing league. Victories help you rack up career points, thus improving your rank and earning you offers from different race teams. Because each team has its own stable of cars that handle differently, you can take a job with a different team whose car might perform better in the game’s long series of cup-based races. This fresh, original take on racing is matched by good two-player split-screen action, 10 tracks (each with multiple branches that open or close in different cups), and a helpful training mode.

The gameplay delivers a fun, challenging ride with a nice balance between fun and realism. Smart braking and powersliding, tight lines through corners, and the guts to trade paint with the pack are all keys to success. But the cars never take damage and never wreck, so the game’s not a hardcore sim. Through it all, the strong controls respond well, but they definitely require practice–mistakes lead to spin-outs in a hurry. At the finish, WDC’s packed with depth, delivering an intriguing racing experience with definite staying power.

Slow Lane

The big problem with WDC, though, is its sensation of speed. While these cars hardly move in slo-mo, the difference between 90 mph and 150 mph isn’t as huge as it should be, and races lack a glorious high-speed feel. Visually, the tracks and cars look fairly sharp, but they’re not as colorful and detailed as those in Beetle Adventure Racing. WDC’s letterbox-style hi-res mode helps some, but many gamers won’t tolerate trading screen real estate for better detail. Why didn’t the game just support the Expansion Pak?

As far as sounds go, you’ll turn off the annoying music, but the engine and tire effects play a big part in the action. They’re remarkably informative about how your car’s performing and about how well your opponents are doing.

Good Finish If you can forgive World Driver Championship’s speed problems, you’ll find a deep, addictive racing experience. It’s not nearly as polished as the PlayStation’s racing gem, Gran Turismo, but it’s as close as N64 owners can get without buying a PlayStation.

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