Dakar 2 (GameCube) Review

By Dave Beasley 03.08.2003

The Paris to Dakar Rally is one of the most famous endurance rallies amongst rally enthusiasts. It covers over 6000KM and two continents travelling over terrain ranging from the sandy, desolate Sahara Desert, to the vast, towering, Atlas Mountains. Now entering its 25th year in existence Acclaim have decided to honour it by releasing a second instalment.

Racing games being very few and far between on the Gamecube, Dakar 2 doesn't really have too much to live up to. As far as rally games go, after the cancellation of Colin McRae, Dakar 2 pretty much stands alone. To be honest Acclaim has done a good job. It plays very nicely and you get a feel for the speed of the vehicles you are travelling in. This is the first good point of the game, the vehicles. Instead of your run of the mill Impretza or Skoda, Acclaim have included three different types of all terrain vehicles, trucks, cars and motorbikes. All handle very differently, trucks being much easier to drive than cars and cars easier than bikes. There are however, dotted throughout tracks, different shortcuts vehicles can take. Although the bike is more difficult to handle, it can take many more shortcuts than the trucks due to its smaller size. Trucks are also much more hard wearing. The worse you drive the more damage is done to your vehicle meaning the steering starts so pull to the side and your top speed is reduced. Leaping off a huge sand dune on a bike means almost certain suspension failure however in a truck it may just cause slight damage or none at all meaning you can get to the end that bit quicker.

There are four main modes of play available, arcade, 2-player multiplayer, quick race and campaign. In arcade you are pitted against 3 computer controlled adversaries over the run from Paris to Dakar. At each stage you have free choice over which ATV you drive which can be crucial because those tracks can be very narrow and trucks can be very wide! It's a good fun mode and you know your racing against the other cars as the try to push you into rocks and shove you over the side of a cliff. Quick race is as it states, the computer picks an ATV, track and set up. You race against 3 other ATV to get the best time possible. Campaign is a cumulative time challenge against other cars over the eleven stages from Paris to Dakar. ATV's are released at timed intervals so you are likely to see other ATV's on the track, however they may not be quite as aggressive as the ones in Arcade mode. At the end of each stage times are added together and you get a run down of the overall standings.

Included in the game is a pre-race set up option. Here you can change the type of tyre, suspension, gear ratio and gear box. The set up of your chosen ATV has a great bearing on the way it handles. Put a set of hard tyres on your transport on a mud course and you are very unlikely to make it round sharp turns meaning collisions with rocks and ultimately more damage to your vehicle. Choose too longer gear ratio and your acceleration will suffer meaning other ATV's will over take you on corners. This option adds a great deal to the game as you really feel you are in control of the ATV, the set ups you choose have a noticeable bearing on the feel of the handling and as the terrain changes form dessert to mountains some tough decisions are going to have to be made on what set up is best as you trade speed for traction and reliability.

The control system of Dakar 2 is a real high point. They can be configured to how you like but anyone using manual gears (how racing games should really be played) will delight in the default set up. Using R to accelerate and L to brake leaves the C stick free to act as the gear stick. Pushing up to change up a gear and down to change down, the player is given the feel of a sequential gear box used in real world rally cars. This adds a great deal of fun to the game and makes the manual gear system a pleasure to use as opposed to tapping buttons to cycle through gears. There are some nice touches out in such as pressing A sounds your horn while B turns on the lights so you can see in the darker conditions.

This game is really good fun to play however there are some low points. There has been a replay option included after each race with the option to save it. Each race lasts on average three and a half minutes and why anyone would want to sit and re-watch this is incomprehensible to me. You can't even fast forward it to good bits or rewind it to see a good bit again, it's a bit of a let down but then again you can just ignore it. The difficulty settings seem to be a little off as well. There is no point for a good gamer to bother with the easy or normal modes, they are a breeze. Hard mode does present a challenge and some of the courses are very tricky but once learnt will soon be mastered. The handling of the ATV's on the whole is very good, however the truck seems to handle a little too well for it's size. Handbraking a 3 tonne truck round a 1800 hairpin all comes a little too naturally but on the whole is okay.

There are quite a lot of unlockables in the game. In total there are 8 cars, five of which need to be unlocked, 4 trucks of which 2 need to be unlocked and 5 bikes of which 3 need to be unlocked. There is also a reverse mode in which you race from Dakar to Paris doing everything backwards so nearly creating another 11 tracks. So although the game is quite easy it's going to take a few campaigns and arcade races before you have 100% of this done.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Dakar 2 is a really good fun rally game. Easy to pick up and with a great control system. Visually it's very nice but experienced games may find it a little to easy. It may not last too long but it's great fun to play.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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