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WRC 9 Review: King of Drift (PC)

The Big Daddy of rally games is packing an even bigger punch this year. WRC 9 returns with a stellar package, promising to give both, amateurs and seasoned drivers, a thorough challenge. But how difficult is it to master? The answer swings both way and it's time to find out how in our WRC 9 Review.

WRC 9 Review King of Drift CoverWhen it comes to racing games, it is generally believed that you can’t go wrong with the concept. You make a track, a car, add some spinning wheels and voila! But it is just as easy to go catastrophically wrong with the execution. This holds very true for rally games because, you see, rally racing is a challenge in real life itself, let alone virtually. So, props must be given to French devs Kylotonn games for delivering a well-polished game that exudes the thrill and joy of rally racing and rural landscapes to near-perfection.

WRC 9 is the official video-game title of the FIA World Rally Championship which puts racers in the midst of serene valleys, hills, forests and steep roads. Take on various competitions and rivals and climb your way to the top of the WRC championship ladder. Rookie or pro, WRC is the survival of the best and you are here to dominate the dirt roads and the crazy hills!

WRC 9 is available for purchase on the Epic Games Store.

STORY – An In-Depth Experience

WRC 9‘s story is made up of championships and tournaments. How you progress through the game is entirely up to you. There are multiple leagues to choose from and you can also select your starting league. You have your major championship; WRC. But you also have WRC-2 and WRC-3 as well as the Junior WRC category. As with real life, the tracks and cars differ from championship to championship and there is no scarcity in options there. The entire ecosystem offered in-game is the best aspect about the game and in my opinion, no other racing game comes even close to making a career mode as good as this game. Your car selection, team selection and everything else play such a huge role for the entirety of your playthrough. Not to mention, those sweet bonus cars and tracks, the latest being the Toyota Yaris Rally Concept.

In terms of Career Mode and Story Progression, WRC 9 is the best racing game out there right now.

In terms of Career Mode and Story Progression, WRC 9 is the best racing game out there right now.

Career Mode – Where All The Fun Is At

You begin your driver career in either Junior WRC or WRC-3. Select your team too as that choice dictates your speed of progression. You have good and subpar teams in every championship so the choice is yours to make. Faster cars are often clunky and unreliable whereas slower cars tend to be more stable and long-lasting. If you are an experienced driver, you can take your chances with faster teams. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to the basics. Every championship has a certain number of rallies to compete in, scoring points and gauging your nearest rivals. WRC 9 has some fantastic rally routes, my personal favourite being Rally Japan. Winning championships allows you to move on to the next tier and test your mettle there. Career Mode is unmatched in its segment and the closest challengers to it are F1 2020‘s MyTeam Mode and the MotoGP 20 Career Mode.

GAMEPLAY – An Uphill Struggle

The in-depth theme from the career mode follows into its gameplay as well. Touching on the subjects of teams and cars previously, each career path is heavily customisable. You are given the reins of your entire team and make changes and development decisions as you see fit. You have a personalised R&D chart where you can upgrade and manage the technical specs of your car as well as team resources. The chart is broadly split into Performance, Reliability, Crew and Team. Each category affects your on-track and/or off-track performance and balance is key. The car models have also been designed with individual mechanics obeying physics at all times. Your suspension and tyre behaviour respond differently to each terrain type as well as bumps and potholes. Your car’s body kit and wings help in stability and modifying your car through the R&D chart give an accurate amount of change.

Physics and gameplay mechanics are top notch. Environmental objects collide naturally as well.

Physics and gameplay mechanics are top-notch. Environmental objects collide naturally as well.

But All’s Not Merry

If the career mode of WRC 9 is this stellar, the gameplay is equally as challenging. This especially holds true for newcomers. If you are a racing aficionado, chances are you would have a racing wheel. Physics wise, each skid, slide, wheel spin and acceleration can be felt with accuracy. The deal is even sweeter if you use a force feedback wheel/controller that has the power to translate those G forces. But that’s also part of the problem. You see, rally racing is by no means easy. It is a gruelling sport and even the best struggle at times. This feeds into the game as well and the experience largely matters on what you use to drive the car.

Keyboard users will suffer the most with the not-so-friendly mechanisms while controlling the car. Things are slightly better with a controller but here, the steering sensitivity is very difficult to master. I spent almost an hour just getting to grips with the controls and destroyed my car numerous times, running it into trees or over a cliff. But once you’re adjusted, you are guaranteed a pleasant experience. Regardless, the best experience is certainly with a dedicated racing wheel but then again, it makes sense as rally racing is not everyone’s cuppa tea.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO – Eye Candy

Arguably the best-looking rally game in recent years, WRC 9 breezes past rival titles like DiRT Rally 2.0 and DiRT 5 with a studio-quality look. When you think of rally, there aren’t really any boundaries. Unlike track racing, rallies take place anywhere and everywhere. You can never predict the terrain, weather and your car until you’re out on the road. The game engine captures this beautifully. Textures are realistic and offer a great sense of detail to the terrain and world elements. Optimised tesselation allows for better 3D terrain which adds heaps to the driving experience. The weather system is a work of art and in my honest opinion, should be the standard for weather system in all games. The car models are exquisite and the amount of variety and decal intricacy makes you wanna spend hours admiring them. All in all, it offers a solid graphical package.

The Toyota Yaris Rally Concept is the latest addition to the already rich library of vehicles.

The Toyota Yaris Rally Concept is the latest addition to the already rich library of vehicles.

Audio – Does What It Needs To

The sound section of WRC 9 is a bag of goodies. One of the main reasons for immersion is the car sounds. The engine noise, tyre squeals, brake screeches and rocks and stones on the car body, all contribute to creating a living, breathing car. World Design is no less. Mud, rocks, stones, tarmac and water all have a natural sound and reaction when interacted with. All other audio elements work right on cue and there are no complaints on that front.

The menus are crisp, sharp and easy to navigate. Everything is so aesthetically pleasing, it makes you want to explore all sections of the games. Kylotonn have done an amazing job with the UI and the overall look and feel of WRC 9.

WRC 9 was reviewed on PC via the Epic Games Store with a key provided by HomeRunPR.

Summary
WRC 9 is a step up from its prequels and it does exactly as advertised. The game has tons of content that you can immerse yourself in. There are tens of cars, dozens of tracks, different countries and championships, giving a huge replayability value. While there are ample positives, there are also some major negatives. The main issue is with the control scheme which seems to favour wheel users over gamepad/keyboard. It's not a deal-breaker but it was definitely a frustrating experience for me to master the mechanics using a controller. But once I was comfortable with WRC 9 on a controller, there was no looking back.
Good
  • Beautifully created car models
  • Stunning World Detail
  • Very in-depth career mode
  • Oodles of content to explore
Bad
  • Best experience can only be had with a racing wheel
  • Steep learning curve for driving mechanics
  • Very difficult controlling on the controller/keyboard
8.7
Great

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