It's nearly Christmas, which means it's time for 90 per cent of the year's games to be released within two months. There's no Grand Theft Auto, Halo or Zelda this year, so that Christmas number one slot could be anyone's -- although we'll put money on it being either FIFA 06 or Need For Speed. Sony has been fastest out of the blocks to give Crave a preview of its brand new racing games -- with both Jak X and WRC: Rally Evolved dropping on our doormat in a collective bundle of joy. The mix of combat racing and hardcore rally sim is the perfect antidote to a cold November morning.
There's been a new Jak game from Naughty Dog every year since 2001 -- a prolific output that only failed to impress with the second game in the series. The third game's triumph means the Californian developer has had to change direction with Jak X, and it's taken the cartoon characters in the series and stuck them in a Twisted Metal-esque combat racing game. The end result has more polish than a Sergeant Major's boots. It's a massive package, with weeks of multiplayer modes, online battles and unlockable extras to explore, although it's a shame it doesn't support four-player racing for Mario Kart-esque play. It's not going to change the genre, and it shamelessly steals from every great racing game from the past few years, but it's impossible not to enjoy such a lovingly constructed package.
Around the time of Colin McRae Rally 2 on the PlayStation, it seemed that nobody could resist the lure of hurtling down a muddy hill in a Subaru Impreza while a co-driver shouts things like 'easy left, ditch'. While the Colin McRae series eventually stagnated in a field somewhere because of its inability to evolve, the appropriately named Evolution Studios has taken the lead with Rally Evolved. It's not massively different from the previous version, but it feels like the perfect mix of car tweaking and racing against the clock with your engine barely holding together by the end of it. It's not as difficult as Richard Burns Rally, but we like being able to skip the car setup rigamarole and simply go out and push the cars to their limit to shave that last second off a lap time. Call us graphics whores, but we can't wait to see how the next-gen sequel looks on PS3.
The end of the year should be an exciting time for gamers, with the Xbox 360 launch less than one short month away. Needless to say, we're sweating with anticipation for Microsoft's next-gen loveliness, so keep an eye out for full coverage here on Crave. -GC