This review was conducted using a review code given to me by the game’s PR company. This does not affect my judgement of the game and is explained for the purposes of transparency.
Rally games are a new genre which I have found myself becoming interested in. Since attending the DiRT Rally 2.0 preview event, and then reviewing the game, I have found myself really enjoying this genre. So when the chance arose for me to review the official World Championship Rally (WRC) game WRC8, I jumped on it.
As you may have guessed, WRC 8 is the 8th instalment in the series and its website promises a pretty riveting experience. Boasting a wide range of cars, and over 100 tracks, the game promises immersion. The Career mode has seen a massive overhaul since the last game, allowing players to manage their team. This means recruiting new members, planning strategies for the upcoming rallies. Even planning events for the week to keep you busy on the days between rallies.
The main bread and butter of the game comes in the form of the game’s Career mode. This sees the player take on the responsibility of managing a team, as well as winning rallies. A nice tutorial walks you through everything however, it isn’t overly complicated. You begin in Junior WRC division and pick a car. There are 3 to choose from, each one being a Ford. You then must assign team members to their specific role. You have meteorologists and engineers, amongst others. All of which have a role to play in helping you to win rallies. Over time your crew members will fatigue from work and must be placed in the reserve. You can then assign your backup crew members to take over, while those people recover.
On top of this, you have a progression system of sorts, known as the R&D department. This is essentially a skill tree. You earn points for competing in rallies and then unlock skills to help you progress through the season. These perks include things such as increased morale when you win a rally. But there are also perks for when you lose, such as your team not becoming so demoralised. Which is always nice. These perks do come in handy, and I found them useful in softening the blow when it came to my multiple loses in the rally stages.
In WRC8 you must plan events yourself, other than the official rally stages. You have the choice of resting or one of two pre-determined events. These can range from historic race to extreme conditions training. There are also manufacturer tryouts, where you must drive as far as you can in an allotted time in an attempt to impress them. Manufacturer relationships are very important in the Career mode of WRC8, as it directly affects your success. As I found out. If you perform purely in the races, your relationship with the manufacturer can drop. So low that it’s possible for them to fire you. Leaving you £15k in debt to your crew, which is never a nice thing. Being tossed aside results in you having to start the season again. From the begin. All of your progress is gone. It’s brutal, but as is the world I guess.
If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, fear not. It is possible to play the games Season mode, which is essentially the Career mode without the performance pressure. Simply rock up and race. If you place 10th, no-one is gonna fire you. You just placed 10th. Its a nice change to the Career mode, but I feel it depends on what type of experience you are looking for from WRC8. There is also multiplayer, allowing you to race ghosts in trails or split-race with friends. Something which I personally feel is always a welcome touch to any racing game.
In terms of gameplay, WRC8 plays very well. A lot of time and care has obviously been put into the handling system of the cars. You very much feel in control of the car, feeling the weight shift around as you corner. The cars control differently depending on the surface you’re driving on, and you have to adjust your driving to deal with the change. Over the course of a rally, your tyres will wear out, again causing the car to control differently. If you’re like me and drive rather poorly, you will damage your car. This also affects the way it drives, so if your co-driver says “don’t cut” on a corner do not cut the corner. You will hit a rock and damage your engine. Or drive off a cliff, and damage your engine.
Now WRC8 isn’t without its issues. Firstly, graphics wise the game is average I would say. On the surface level, it looks very nice. However the more you play it, the more you start to realise the smaller undefined details that take away from the experience. The game isn’t as crisp as it could be I feel. Compare WRC8 to its main rival of this year, DiRT Rally 2.0, and it doesn’t even come close graphically. There are also smaller details, like the lack of a solid reflection in the mirrors of the car. I prefer to drive with the view of the steering wheel as if I was actually driving the car. So to see such a strange, blurry mess in the mirror is extremely off-putting.
The calendar system in the Career mode also becomes a tad tedious. Having to select the events I want to do in between rallies became a chore. The events all essentially do the same thing; give you money and increase (or decrease) the team’s morale. The event you do is essentially pointless, so choosing becomes pointless. Then there is also WRC8’s lack of customisation with your rally car. You get to choose which tyre you use, but that’s it. I was hoping for something much more in-depth, giving that the game is the official game of the WRC.
My major gripe while playing WRC8 is that, I would’ve preferred to be playing DiRT Rally 2.0 the entire time. As much as it pains me to say it, WRC8 just isn’t on par with DiRT Rally 2.0. The lack of vehicle options, the average graphics, the strange calendar system. It feels like a poor version of DiRT Rally 2.0, which is strange. You would assume that WRC8 would be the superior game, but that just isn’t the case in my opinion. The game is not necessarily a bad game. The game is good, it’s just not the game for me. It is an amazing representation of what it would be like to manage a full rally team, and take on the championship. At the end of the day, it all depends what you’re after in your rally game. Want a bona fide WRC experience? Then WRC8 is the game for you. But if you want a game with more to customise options, better graphics but somewhat less of a genuine experience go and grab yourself DiRT Rally 2.0.
WRC8 offers a good rally experience, with impressive controls and an extremely authentic Career mode. Unfortunately, there are small details which lose it some marks for me, as I feel it doesn’t quite compare to its rival game’ DiRT Rally 2.0. Nonetheless, WRC8 provides the most authentic rally career experience you can get.