Last year's WRC from Milestone was a so-so 6/10 effort, sorely lacking in presentation values while delivering some decent sim racing. This year's title makes some much needed tweaks to the difficulty, and attempts to improve the visuals, but the end result is still something that feels under par compared to the competition.
Structurally, WRC 2 is similar to WRC 1. Each event in the rally season has a list of objectives, with credits and reputation points being awarded depending on difficulty and how well you perform. Credits can then be spent on new cars, upgrades and more superficial things such as car paint jobs. There's an element of team management here too, with team managers, engineers and sponsors all having to be assigned, with your reputation determining who is available to you. While these management portions of the game offer a reasonable extra dimension to the rally experience, the core of the game is still the actual driving.
WRC wasn't a very forgiving game. I play a lot of racing games, yet last year's entry was punishing from the opening events even on standard difficulty. WRC 2 does a better job at catering to everyone, offering some decent driving assists and a far more balanced range of AI settings. Using the default medium racing setting I found myself easily winning the opening events, so was able to tinker with the assists to up the challenge to a level that was challenging but not impossible.
Handling feels a step up from last year's effort, with the cars no longer appearing to rotate around an invisible pivot as much as they used to. This is still a racing sim, though, so don't expect the cars to slide around as easily as they do in Codemasters' DiRT series. If you're after instant thrills I'd recommend you avoid WRC 2, as it takes some time to get to grips with how the cars handle, and the variety of road surfaces and weather conditions add to the complexity.
Milestone has thankfully added in rewind, letting you skip back up to five seconds if you've messed up a corner and ended up on your roof in a ditch. You'll know what to expect if you've used the system in any one of the numerous racers to offer the functionality over the past few years, but it's still an excellent inclusion that goes a long way to lessening the frustration experienced while racing, especially during the initial learning period.