Over the past decade and a bit, when it came to buying a good rally game, it was always a no brainer to go with whatever the heck Codemasters had pumped out last in the Colin McRae series.
The only problem is that the old days of the Colin McRae rally games have come and gone and Codemasters have moved over to the Dirt franchise to bring a more overall off-road experience rather than a dedicated rally game for real rally fans to immerse themselves into.
WRC: FIA World Rally Championship has now hit the scene and hopes to give fans exactly what they have been asking for for the past couple of years.
Does it succeed?
Unlike the Codemasters Dirt series, WRC is not a game about dirt buggies, X-Games and other off-road activities, it’s a game about rallying, pure and simple.
I don’t usually begin reviews with comments on the tech or presentation in a game, but it really must be made pretty clear from the start that WRC is not a very good looking game. The rallies, cars and locations themselves aren’t terrible but look very dated and manage to do the job, but don’t expect this game to look nearly as good as any of its competition.
The major presentation problems comes in the form of everything you are doing when you aren’t actually driving around. The menus are dull and ugly overall and aren’t much fun to navigate either. The first time you load up and see the game’s interface, you might get a big fright and think that you just shoveled out a lot of money for a really low quality title.
It’s really unfortunate, because when WRC gets around to doing what it’s supposed to, it’s actually pretty darn good.
The driving mechanics and physics in WRC feel very solid and remind me of the days of playing some of the older Colin McRae titles or even one of my all-time favorites, Richard Burns’ Rally. FWD cars feel completely different to 4WD cars for instance and there is even a huge change in feeling between different makes of cars. Add to that a large variety of stages that take place over various types of gravel, snow, mud and tar and you have yourself a proper rally title.
As you would expect, the point of the game is to compete in WRC rally stages. Assists can be turned on to help out but for the most part you will be hammering your car down some little road, listening to your co-drivers directions and trying to maintain a balance between keeping speed and not flying off of a cliff.
WRC offers up a couple of different modes to get you going. Road to WRC is your career mode in which you start as a newbie with very little money, and slowly work your way up to the WRC. WRC Academy is a mode that teaches you how to drive like a pro and learn some new tricks and skills. There is a also a single player mode which serves as a quick race sort of mode that allows you to just pick a type of rally, location, car and get going.
Multiplayer modes are also offered, however being a rally game, they don’t involve a bunch of cars all trying to squeeze onto a one lane dirt road. Hot seat mode allows a bunch of people to take turns in the same room and compete on their times, just like a real rally. If however, you have no friends or live in the middle of nowhere (in which case you should just go rally your car outside) then there is also an online mode. The online mode allows you to join or create games, and then race against other real players. Everyone drives the rally simultaneously, with the option to switch their “ghosts” on or off. Points are awarded for the best time and the rally stages can continue as long as you like.
WRC: FIA World Rally Championship delivers as a solid rally driving experience, which makes it very unfortunate that the rest of the package feels so unpolished and dull. Rally fans looking for a real dedicated rally game need not look any further, just don’t expect it to have any pretty frills.
The rally driving feels solid and realistic, not for casuals.
The gameplay graphics look dated and the menus and interfaces are pretty awful.
Car engines sound a little too “digital” and if there was a soundtrack, I don’t even remember it.
A variety of modes and rally categories will keep rally fans happy. Online will let you see how you stack up, but won’t keep you engaged for too long.
Overall: 7.5 (not an average)
Rally fans looking for a solid feeling dedicated rally game will enjoy what WRC has to offer. Anyone that isn’t heavy into rally or sim racers would probably want to steer clear.
[Reviewed on Playstation 3]
Last Updated: October 21, 2010