PS3 Review – WRC: FIA World Rally Championship

October 9, 2010Written by Zak Islam

Italian developer Milestone  is back once again this year with the official WRC game, FIA World Rally Championship. They’re no stranger to the racing genre, with years of experience ranging from Moto GP, SBK to Evolution GT. The developers have delivered a fairly decent racing rally game, however, it may not necessarily win over the fans who have their heart set on other similar series such as Colin McRae or Codemasters’ DiRT. With that said, though, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship does a sufficient enough job of entertaining those who are into rally games.

Gamers have been painstakingly waiting for five years since the last WRC title to have another go at the premier rally racing videogame franchise. Colin McRae and Codemasters’ DiRT series may have delivered in WRC’s absence, however, the more serious rally fans may have not been fully satisfied with them. Upon starting up the game, players immediately have an option of heading into any rally race in the World Rally Championship-branded series. The standard set of WRC motorcars are included as well as Citroen C2 R2, Subaru Impreza N4 and many, many more. The official WRC license grants the game to feature a total of 13 real world locations ranging from Rally Sweden to Rally Japan. 78 specific stages as well as 55 events are also included in WRC.

When analyzing the technical side of things, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship is easily one of the most advanced racers available on the market; the game brags an impressive dynamic damage system, real time reflections and dynamic dirt. But how are things on the actual track? Thankfully, the car handling is spot-on. The more powerful vehicles necessitate of skillful throttle management which is satisfying once taking a comfortable grasp of it.

Handling of the cars primarily felt exceedingly messy, but as things progress, it does eventually get better and more enjoyable for the player. Hitting a small rock on the track will make the car halt instantaneously which, as a result, causes momentous damage that will see the car being affected for the rest of the stage – this essentially adding a realm of realism. Similarly, if the on-screen driving line takes a player off the track, the cars’ speed will ultimately slow down. So, as you can see, WRC isn’t a merciful game. The standard difficulty may very well frustrate gamers due to its punishing nature. To unlock a chapter, players will need to become accustomed to a cars’ handling and familiarize yourself with the track as you will be replaying an event several times.

Upon completing an event players will be rewarded with credits and the opening of otherwise locked events. The credits can then be used to purchase new cars in the game’s three major car sections including S-WRC, P-WRC and J-WRC. Within the game’s career mode, entitled Road to WRC, players will be participating in the regional championships, and the ultimate goal is to progress and consequently strike a job offer from the official top WRC teams. When racing, a pleasurable feature to see is the game’s seasons; car handling feels noticeably different when the weather changes from time to time with rain and snow making it dangerous to drive fast.

On top of the career mode, there’s the Rally Academy challenges that offers a number of short courses. The mode is useful, especially to newcomers to the series, as seeing yourself race a Ghost AI car will give you a better general idea of how to do things in other modes such as the campaign. Another game mode included is Time Attack that sees players record their best possible time which then can be competed against some of the world’s best record holders. Players can also experience a fully-fledged online multiplayer mode. You’ll be able to compete with other real-life worldwide players with experience being earned via good performances making your rank progress through the leader boards.

Visually is where WRC seems to essentially lack. There’s no doubt that the cars looking good, but other graphical let offs unfortunately detracts from that. The game is riddled with unpleasant graphical bugs and glitches, paired with tasteless environment makes the game seem merely like a HD version of the PlayStation 2 Colin McRae games. Ultimately, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship definitely won’t see itself compete with the Gran Turismos and DiRTs that have dominated the market.

WRC: FIA World Rally Championship offers tons of customisation features. Players will be able to tweak a car’s every aspect imaginable such as the color and tires; the game’s countless customisation attributes will keep fanatical racing fans busy for hours – a factor that sees the game’s replayability fundamentally being boosted. A total of 18 cars, 60 drivers and 32 car damages are all included in WRC. A voting system has also been introduced to choose a players’ favorite rally and play in it. On the audio side of things, the way engine noise really roars and the exhaust pops when a player eases off the accelerator, is impressive.

Sure, it’s not as refined as its competitors, but WRC delivers a solid rally experience, particularly for hardcore fans. But the sub-standard visuals detract from the otherwise entertaining racing experience and the lackluster presentation doesn’t the help the game in any way. However, fairly decent audio, an array of customization options and several action-filled game modes rounds out WRC as a sufficient depiction of rally driving.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Solid gameplay experience.

+ Healthy amount of customization.

– Dreadful visuals are a major set back.

6 out of 10