The world of motorsports is not a small. There is a plethora of different circuits for different types of cars with all sorts of different clubs associated with them, the biggest names being NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One. All of these circuits have one thing in common: you are racing against your opponents on the track.
What if I told you there was a different kind of racing where you don’t race your opponents directly, but rather against their time? Well then, allow me to welcome you to the world of rally racing. Rally racing puts you on a point-to-point track where you’re racing against the clock for the best time. You have a co-driver who guides you through the track with different types of commands to plan your next maneuver.
While this particular racing genre may not be too popular here in America, we have seen a grab bag of different rally racing sims in the past years. The most notable of these games being Dirt Rally, Sebastian Loeb Rally EVO, V-Rally and the series in which I am reviewing it’s latest installment, WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship.
How does this particular title stack up against the rest? Well put on your gear, buckle up, make sure you’re hydrated and let’s go!
Very minimal. You can crash your car but that is about it.
When I came to the realization that I had just booted up another rally racing game, I saw my childhood flash before my eyes. The last experience I had with a rally racing game was not a pleasant one. Hours upon hours of struggling just to keep the car on the track, restarting races over and over again because I kept crashing, endless sweat dripping off my face! Perhaps those were tears? All that dread went away when I began my first race with WRC 8 and found cars handle very smooth and I was actually able to enjoy my experience!
Let’s discuss the function of the co-driver in rally racing.The co-driver is very crucial because they help guide you through the track with short commands. It is up to you to learn what they mean and apply them to yourself as you travel along the track. It is also very important to be able to understand the commands and WRC 8 makes sure they are clear and concise.
The game also offers a variety of camera views to suit any type of player whether you like to race in third-person mode, or cockpit view like me. However, no matter what view you race in, or what kind of transmission you use, the real challenge here is taking on the variety of different terrains, weather, and difficult tracks the game offers.
The game is also packed full of different modes to choose from including: career mode, season, quick play, test area, training, multiplayer events, competition lobbies and split screen.
Career mode is the bulk of the game. It offers a full season in the world of Rally racing including not just normal racing, but extreme weather events and races in historical cars.
What makes this career mode different than most other rally sims is the detail to micromanagement. Not only do you have to master your car on the track, but you have to master it off the track as well and you are provided the tools just to do that!
There is nothing more important to a great driver than a great crew supporting him along the way. You are able to select your crew from a pool full of prospects using a card system.
Each member contributes value to your race weekend, whether it be your mechanic preparing your car, your physical therapist helping you and your crew through the off days or your meteorologist scouting the weather report for your next big event.
Research and Development
Along with your crew standing by your side is your research and development department working tirelessly behind the scenes. Remember, now matter your skill level or how confident you are behind the wheel, there is always room for improvement and that’s where your R&D center comes in.
You are able to specialize however you please with four different branches including:
Team: Improve relationships with your manufacturer and gain bonuses for completing team objectives.
Crew: Improve your crew, improve their skill and morale bonuses.
Performance: Improve the performance of your car
Reliability: Improve the durability of your car
There is no correct nor incorrect way to go about this, choose what you feel best suits you as a race car driver.
It’s time to leave the garage and go racing! Head out to a variety of different circuits and put together the best total time to win the circuit! But don’t think you’re getting away that easy because even during events you may face some problems with your car, but luckily you chose a great mechanic to help you with that!
You will need to spend time in between stages making sure your car is ready for the next one, or you can have it done automatically, it’s completely up to you.
In between normal rally events you may come across events such as racing historical cars or my personal favorite, extreme weather events.
Extreme weather events put you on a track during disastrous weather and you must travel a certain distance through the track in the allotted time to succeed. This may have been an unnecessary feature put in but I definitely enjoy it a lot!
Other Game Modes
Season mode is all the fun of career mode, but without the micromanagement. It is just pure Rally Racing excitement!
Not a lot of time? Just jump right into your choice of track and go win!
Compete in developer recommended challenges to beat your own time or someone else’s in a selected scenario.
Training and Test Area
Struggling keeping your car on the track or want to hone your skills? Training lets you relearn the basics of rally racing to go on and test your skills in the test area. Or you can just use the test area to mess around, your choice!
Are you feeling confident enough to race against actual people instead of the A.I? Head on over to the multiplayer events and put your driving skills to the ultimate test by competing against other racers in online competition lobbies or events.
Not that confident? Race against someone you know online instead! You can also hand a controller to a younger sibling or your technophobe grandmother in local split screen!
Kylotonn studios is a small developer with only about 100 employees so don’t expect the visuals and sound to be along the lines of EA’s Need for Speed or Xbox Game Studios’ Forza series. That being said, the visuals are still very good for what they are. The animations of the driver are superb in cockpit view, and the overall presentation of what is going on around you is great. Racing in the heavy storms of extreme weather events is absolutely stunning with the rain effects on the front window and the lighting. If I were to nitpick something, it would probably be that the side-view mirror reflections are questionable in helping determine what exactly is going on, but it’s not really a big deal for this game because your focus should be solely on what is in front of you.
The sound is incorporated rather well into WRC 8, providing a good feeling of authenticity. If you’re looking for any kind of soundtrack to nod along to while you’re racing, you will find disappointment in that regard for there isn’t one.
WRC 8 is a very much welcomed edition to not only rally simulators, but the racing genre as a whole. I findit to be very beginner-friendly where the controls and handling of the cars aredone very well. There are also a lot of things to do and think about during the course of your in-game career, so it never gets stale as other bare-bones racing game career modes where you’re just competing in one circuit or another.
Kylotonn Studios may be a small company, but they have a lot of passion and ambition for WRC 8 as seen in its quality. I highly recommend this game to any seasoned rally vet, and people who want to get into the sport alike.
Now go out there and win!
The Bottom Line
WRC 8 is a much-welcomed addition to the racing sim genre, and I would highly recommend it to fans to give this title a try.