Last year’s WRC 8 introduced us to a whole new career mode, and officially put the Dirt series on notice. One year later, developer Kylotonn is back with WRC 9. Featuring new courses, crew options, and a few more tweaks, is there enough new here to warrant a purchase? Find out in our WRC 9 review.
WRC 9 Review – On the Road Again
Rally racing is a pretty simple sport, on paper anyway. Each racer is tasked with driving from the start to finish of each stage, and after a certain amount of stages the driver with the shortest overall time wins the rally. The stages are some of the toughest places in the world to drive, including rough desert terrain, perilous mountain drives in the snow, stages set in the dead of night in thick forests, and even occasional more showy stages inside stadiums, with pyrotechnics to boot. All of the nuances to these stages are effectively captured in WRC 9, and the helmet camera can give the best feeling of immersion.
The handling in WRC 9 is just as ruthless as ever. Inexperienced players will be punished on the normal difficulty, and only veterans of the series need to even think of cranking that dial up higher. Thankfully, the difficulty of opponents can also be scaled back, so those who want their paltry performance to push them onto the podium regardless can do so. It won’t really feel like a hard-earned win, but it can be done.
Just as important as driving well in a rally race is the co-driver. In WRC 9, the co-drivers are very accurate in their callouts, while settings are available to modify their timing so that you have more or less warning ahead of a course feature. The co-drivers in DiRT are a bit more realistic, as they comment on the damage a car receives, for instance, while here in WRC 9 they’re kind of robotic and strictly stick to the script.
WRC 9 Review – Good Looks, Mostly
WRC 9 certainly looks the part of a rally racing game, though the environmental graphics aren’t at the same level as the DiRT series. Vehicles are well-rendered, including detailed cockpit views, which is really the most important aspect visually to any racing game. Lighting is also realistic, which is especially prevalent in the nighttime stages. Relying on accurate callouts from your co-driver is a pulse-pounding task, and perhaps some of the most intense racing around.
The excellent career mode introduced in WRC 8 makes a return appearance, and is largely untouched – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? The player essentially manages the team’s crew, including hiring and firing members, putting others into reserves, and paying for repairs and salaries. Unless a player performs very poorly, money won’t really be an issue, as even training events pay more than they cost. This is all done from a simple interface overlayed on an isometric view of the office. The skill tree from the previous game is here as well, which wouldn’t look out of place in a traditional RPG. DiRT 5 will need some sort of answer for this mode, or its offering will be disappointing by comparison.
The extreme weather events which were such a showcase of everything WRC has to offer are also included, as are “new” legendary cars from the past. These are particular cars which performed wonderfully in previous WRC seasons, and the player is tasked with replicating those results as best as they can. Generally, these reward a decent chunk of money and/or experience, and the events don’t take too much energy from the crew when selected.
WRC 9 Review - Don't Cut (PS4) - PlayStation LifeStyle
WRC 9 Review – Solid Update Plans
Kylotonn has promised continuous updates for WRC 9 through at least the remainder of the year. Besides new rally events and vehicles to drive, a new co-driver mode is slated to launch during one of these updates, though exact timing has yet to be announced. Basically, one player will drive the course while another player will read out pace notes. How exactly this will work remains to be seen, but it will no doubt result in some hilariously bad driving because gamers aren’t quite as accurate as professional co-drivers! Supporting a game post-release is especially important these days, so such support should be soundly appreciated by fans of the series.
Social racers will likely spend a decent amount of time in WRC 9’s online modes, that is if they have no one to race against locally – split screen is included, as usual! Maybe the next generation of consoles will make this less of a rarity, but as things stand right now Kylotonn needs to be applauded for always including this feature. This includes clubs, of which a player may be a member of up to four. These are guilds in other games, where players come together, in this case to compete in custom championships. Rally racing really works well for asynchronous gaming, and thus this kind of online gaming is perfect for those who may not have a bunch of time to wait around in a lobby, get matched, and play live against others. There are also timed daily, weekly, and monthly challenges to conquer, and the times posted by other players are probably going to make you doubt your abilities.
WRC 9 continues to give the Dirt series a run for its money. This year saw a safe update to the series, with extra content being the main new feature. If you enjoyed WRC 8, picking up WRC 9 is a no-brainer. If you skipped out on last year’s entry, however, it can be had for a cheaper price these days, and by the time you’ve seen all that game has to offer, WRC 9 will then be an even better deal. This is the off-roading game to play while we await DiRT 5 later this year, when the competition should really get interesting.
WRC 9 review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.