World Racing 2
is different in many ways from other racing games. One of the most obvious differences is that the "imaginary arrows" that point your way are treated as just that - imaginary. Other games force you to stay on course, treating these as invisible walls. World Racing 2
, on the other hand, allows you to continue through them and off the specified course, simply adding an arrow that directs you back to the road. While this is more realistic, it was unexpected; even Gran Turismo
games, which attempt to be very realistic, don't let you go driving off whatever way you choose during a race. If this sounds like it could be cool, I have to warn you that although you can leave the track at will, you won't get credit for your progress unless you cross certain (undisclosed) checkpoints. If you leave the track and miss a part of the track that the game requires you to cross, you will get indications on screen pointing you back to the part you skipped - even when you're on the track. My suggestion in this situation is to simply restart the race and try to stay on the track.
Additionally, World Racing 2 has picked up some of the bad aspects of Formula racing games that make them unpopular with American gamers, namely penalties for not staying within the course. While it's true that Formula racing games are usually much more heavy-handed with their penalties, it's a bit aggravating to find a cool shortcut where you cut out a little bit of time and hydroplane in a field of wheat, only to get a "Shortened Course" penalty. Oh - and you'll get penalized for having wrecks, too. Seems a bit petty when you think about it; slamming into something when you're trying to win a race is its own penalty, isn't it?
Another way that World Racing 2 stands out from the crowd is its car selection. There are a lot of licensed vehicles to choose from, but they are all cars from Europe and Japan. No American cars to be found here. In addition to some older models and recent models, you will also have access to some concept vehicles. If the car selection itself isn't enough to set it apart from other racing games, the fact that all of these licensed vehicles can take realistic damage certainly does. You can utterly trash these vehicles, with bumpers split and hanging or falling off, paint scratched, the works.
The aspect of World Racing 2 that I found to be its biggest downfall, however, is the fact that you have to purchase everything. Once you get past the qualification part of the Career mode, you'll have to purchase: access to tracks, cars to race, options for your cars. When you get to the point that you don't have enough money (and you will), you'll have to play in the Free Ride mode to make enough money to buy whatever it is you need. Unfortunately, making money in Free Ride mode is ...in ...cred ...ibly ... ...s... l... o...w. Add to that the fact that you're probably playing Free Ride mode because you don't have enough money to progress in the Career mode and World Racing 2 can get tedious very quickly.
There are two main Modes: Career and Free Ride. Career is where you actually progress through the game and Free Ride is where you can drive single races, cruise around the landscapes and play against friends. Inside of Free Ride, you can choose from Single Race, Test Drive, Split Screen or Joyride. Be forewarned, however - nothing is free. In Single Race, you'll have to buy tracks to be able to race on them - you even have to buy the reverse of tracks separately. A track driven forward and the same track driven backwards are two separate purchases. Unbelievable! Once you've bought your track, you'll need to purchase a car if you haven't bought one yet or if you want one other than the ones you already have. You'll also have to spend money to purchase vinyl graphics kits, if desired, as well as rims, if you want something other than the default rims. Changing the paint color of your car is, however, as simple as selecting a new color from the game's limited pallet and is absolutely free. While I love racing games that allow you tweak and trick out the cars, it's an aspect that sort of needs to be either fully implemented or pretty much ignored. World Racing 2 throws in the least amount of customizing I've seen on a game that allows customizing, almost as if to say, "Hey, we could have allowed you to customize your cars. What would you have thought about that?"
The thing about World Racing 2's purchasing system that bothers me (besides the fact that you have to buy everything) is that the prices seem to be completely arbitrary. Anyone who's ever considered a custom paint job knows that you're going to have to pay over $1000 USD (and more likely in the 3K range) to get a paint job at all, not taking special paint jobs such as Chromaflair (flip paint jobs) into consideration. In World Racing 2, however, any available paint treatment - including the Chromaflair paint jobs - are the same cost - in particular, free. Meanwhile, vinyl graphics for the side of your car and new rims (which would be less than a paint job and possibly more than a paint job, respectively) cost $100 SpeedBucks per selection. Cars cost $227-$495 SpeedBucks, which has little to nothing to do with what the cars would actually cost, but rather is tied directly to car performance.