It seems like rally racing in videogames seems to be gaining in popularity. I’m not sure that the sport as a whole is, but there are now at least three competing videogame series, from the long-running Colin McRae series by Codemasters due to have its latest iteration released this June, to the Sebastion Loeb games, and the WRC series. Of course in years past, there were other rally games too, but WRC 6, developed by Kylotonn Racing Games and digitally published by BigBen Interactive and physically by Bandai Namco, this is the first WRC game I have ever played, and the first rally game in several years.
Clearly, I’m a casual rally racer. I enjoy watching and playing it more than most forms or racing — NASCAR and F1 for example — but at heart, I’m an arcade racer. Heck, Need For Speed: Most Wanted on the original Xbox is my favorite racing game of all time. That said, I don’t have a racing wheel, and I don’t know what makes a car perform better on one type of track than another. Despite that, I still prefer to (try) and play with a manual transmission because I like that extra responsibility and interaction. Anyway, from what I have read, Codemasters’ most recent release, DiRT Rally, is probably too hardcore for me, but WRC 6 might fit the bill.
To a point, WRC 6 is pretty good and enjoyable in my experience. It’s certain accessible, and upon installation and launch, the game drops you right into a solo event and asks you two basic questions: are you familiar with rally racing, and do you play racing games often. Having answered those, I was off to the races, but unlike most racing games, you’re not going up against other cars in the same track, but instead you’re racing against time and trying to, of course, post the best lap and complete time. This is true in multiplayer as well in that you compete for the best times, but given the tight nature of the courses, a staple of rally racing, you’re not actively racing against others at the same time. You can enable a ghost-view mode where you see other racer’s cars with yours, but the point being this isn’t a typical racer with other cars next to you.
Typically, besides the hum of the engine, you’ll hear the voice of your co-driver in your ear. The co-driver is responsible for telling you what turns are coming up and what severity they are, with a 0 being an absolute hairpin turn and a six being practically a straight-away. You can adjust the nationality of the co-driver’s language and how detailed they are – some drivers may not want a lot of detail while they’re focused on the road ahead for example. The visual cues at the top center of the HUD also represent the turns and severity upcoming, should you prefer to play that way. Despite the aids, I still found myself sliding through too many turns as, well, I like to open up the throttle a bit too much.
To that end, WRC 6 does offer a lot of customization in the way of editing driving aids and options, and players that are serious about getting into the game will want to spend some time fine-tuning these options. You can always head to a quick race if you don’t want to risk tarnishing your career mode. The career mode is the meat of the game, with all official WRC teams and rally locations, fourteen different ones spanning from Portugal to China. Other modes include local split screen support and online play for up to eight players. I dabbled in these modes only briefly, but what I did experience worked fine, but, I don’t see myself going back to it.
In terms of presentation, it’s a mixed offering. Graphically, on my launch PS4 there were some tearing and pop-ins, nothing too bad, but a bit distracting nonetheless. I thought the graphical fidelity seemed a little dated and not very impressive, but, it’s serviceable. The audio is not terribly interesting being pretty much just the sounds of racing and the robotic, error-free speech of your co-driver. For a sim, though, you probably shouldn’t expect anything else.
WRC 6 may be the rally racer you’re looking for if you thought DiRT Rally was a bit too hardcore and you’re unsure what DiRT 4 will bring this June. That said, this isn’t a sport or series I’m familiar with or particularly enjoy, so it’s hard for me to give it a firm recommendation either way.