Cody Giunta
21 Oct, 2010

WRC: FIA World Rally Championship Review

360 Review | Should you race out and get it?
Just as the real-life world of car racing is a competitive field, so too is the arena of racing video games. There are many well established properties across a variety of race styles, such as the Gran Turismo and Forza series. After a five year absence, the WRC series has rolled its way back onto the starting line-up, with WRC: FIA World Rally Championship. Developed by Black Bean Games and officially licensed by the WRC, the game is brimming with all of the cars, drivers and co-drivers from the current WRC season. Despite this level of authenticity, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship proves to be a bit of a let-down. While it doesn’t really do anything wrong, it seems to lack a bit of inspiration to maintain any long-term interest.

The basic gameplay of WRC sees you take on the best racers in the world in a variety of locales, from the streets of France to the wilderness of Sweden, in your quest to attain championship status. Within this main career mode, there are ten events with four to six tracks each. To unlock successive events and races, you have to clear a certain percentage of objectives, which come in three tiers. These tiers are usually just a position that you must reach in a race – you can finish as low as tenth on some of the earlier tracks and still clear an objective. Occasionally, some of the standard 'reach position X' objectives will be shaken up a bit, by being paired with another task, such as beating a specific driver. Whenever you clear an objective you are given credits, which can be spent on buying a new car or sprucing up your current vehicle with a fresh coat of paint or assigning new sponsors decals. Applying sponsors will give you a slight percentage increase in the amount of credits you receive in a race, and the greater success on the championship circuit translates into unlocking sponsors with a higher bonus yield.

Down the straight and narrow track.

Down the straight and narrow track.
When it comes time to start your engines on the track, you will be accompanied by your co-driver who will tell you a suggested gear speed to navigate a corner, as well as point out different types of obstacles and turn types. Beyond their capacity to inform you of these things, your co-driver will also be sure to chastise you for particularly bad collisions and lagging behind on the clock. At the same time, however, they will be keen to praise you if you manage to start achieving success, whether it’s in the form of closing the gap between drivers or finishing first in a race.

The controls of WRC are mainly tied down to the use of the left analogue stick and shoulder buttons, with the analogue stick used to turn and the left and right shoulder buttons used to brake/reverse and accelerate respectively. Meanwhile, the face buttons are assigned to a variety of gear changes and handbrake options. These controls are very responsive, to the point where sometimes they come across as overly sensitive, especially upon early play-throughs. More often than not, you will find that a light touch is the best option for either acceleration or turning, even when you are navigating some wide bends with no obstacles. Part of this can be attributed to the handling capacity of your car, though it is a bit disconcerting to have such troubles early on. There is much improvement, however, when you buy yourself better cars and get to grips with the controls. The handling of your car is crucial, and you’ll have to keep an eye on your driving style as you will incur damage throughout a race. While you can repair severe damage in between some races, doing so can incur a time penalty if the repairs needed are particularly extensive.

Feel the drift!

Feel the drift!
When navigating the stages of WRC, you will find a variety of track surfaces and conditions which can affect your driving experience. Outside of the standard tarmac; you can expect to encounter dirt tracks, water, snow, mud and even cobblestones, the latter of which induces a satisfying series of rattles from your controller. As a consequence, you can expect your car to be covered in all manner of dust and mud as you progress through the race. It’s a nice level of detail which helps to add a bit of visual variety to the proceedings. You will also have to adjust the way you drive under these conditions to account for the varying levels of drift and traction, or else you may find yourself careening off a cliff and being enveloped by a brilliant white light, a’la Thelma and Louise.

Outside of these touches, the visuals of WRC: FIA World Rally Championship are adequate but not overly spectacular. There is a definite shift in the environment when you go to different tracks across the globe, but the visuals do not support this change so far as to make any of the tracks particularly memorable or exciting to look at. The representation of the cars is accurate enough, and at the end of the race you can see that exterior damage done to your car matches up with what your damage meter records.

Paint job still holds up...

Paint job still holds up...
By a similar token, the sound design of WRC doesn’t possess anything that sticks out. The menu sections of the game are accompanied by some music, but races themselves do not have any kind of score or soundtrack. This does perhaps better reflect the real-life WRC experience, and in the absence of music you will always have your co-driver to keep you company. On the other hand, the sound effects are a little bit more satisfying, with accurate replications of a car navigating a cobblestone street or jetting across a stream, as well as various revving and collision effects.

For those that really want to persist with WRC, its lifespan is relatively short. Once you get a sense of how the controls work, there isn’t much stopping you from completing the championship campaign in a handful of play-throughs if you’re determined enough. There are unlockables in the form of new cars and paint colours, but these additions aren’t enough to make playing the single-player campaign something that you’ll want to take on again and again. There is also a multiplayer mode for WRC, but it mirrors the single-player mode so closely that it really doesn’t help to improve its replay value.

In a market replete with racing titles, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship isn’t the worst game on offering, but it doesn’t have that special spark about it to be greatly appealing. Those who are fans of WRC may appreciate its accuracy and find it worthy of a play, but anyone else would probably be better served to get their racing fix elsewhere.
The Score
Though by no means a very bad or broken game, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship just isn’t particularly remarkable and is short on replay value. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
thats pretty much how i felt playing the demo.

the driving model is not deep enough to sustain prolonged interest.

its basically arcade style driving through one way tracks by yourself... and i dont know it just felt boring... nothing like Rally Championship 2000 or the earlier Colin McRae titles.
3 years ago
Just by playing the demo turned me off the game pretty heavily.

The cars looked like they sat stationary with the level scrolling past them, with the level-of-detail in the models really really obvious... I'm noticing the changes in the distance on an old CRT TV >_>
3 years ago
With this game being a disappointment I guess it's time to drag out WRC4 on the PS2 for some rally fun...
3 years ago
funny you give MOH a worse rap yet WRC was just junk.

blackbean kill anything they get
3 years ago
We'll just have to wait for DiRT 3 then.
3 years ago
^ thats why i didnt buy it blind... i wasn't sure of blackbean at all...

and i didnt see any point in getting this now full price when GT5 'was' just around the corner.
3 years ago
Yup yup.. will wait for GT5... it's been delayed (again) but it still looks better than this, by a long shot.
3 years ago
The way things are going, DiRT 3 will be out before GT5! icon_lol.gif
3 years ago
Eyce wrote
Just by playing the demo turned me off the game pretty heavily.
I felt the same
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