Get ready to rev those engines and manage your handbrake turns, WRC 9 is back, with the impressive rallying action. However, it is all change from the very top, with a brand-new Developer in KT Racing and a different Publisher too, in the form of Nacon. And with new people in charge of the franchise does that mean wholesale changes in game, or more of a tweak from the last game, wee shall see, But what I can say is right from the get go, you will get the WRC Rally atmospheric experience in your own home, and on your own screen!
Let us remind ourselves what the previous game brought to the franchise, after all WRC has been on nothing short of a roll, after taking a couple of years out and introducing some fantastic additions that WRC9 builds on. Those fantastic additions laid the foundation for this beautifully crafted effort that we have now.
The last game in the franchise brought with it new surface physics, a completely redesigned career mode compared to it’s previous outing, dynamic weather, and if that wasn’t enough 50 teams, 14 countries, 100 tracks, an eSports mode for the serious driver and weekly challenges. It’s fair to say WRC8 had a massive overhaul, and to much success too!
So what can WRC9 bring to the new Xbox Rally Driver, or an old experienced driver like myself, after all it will be total honesty from me as I reviewed the previous game, in fact I have been a follower of the franchise for quite some time, so believe me, it will take some going to top the previous WRC game.
The first thing the new pairing at the top get right, is making WRC 9 a Smart Delivery title, which means should you purchase the game you will have access to both the Xbox One version of WRC9 and the soon to be released Xbox Series X title when it becomes available. So that is quite a big tick in the box, for anyone looking to invest in this new Rally title so close to a launch of a new generation of consoles.
WRC aims high with aspirations to be the leading off-road simulation franchise, and it’s latest instalment in the series features improved realism in gameplay, more content than ever before with 3 new rallies, 35 new special stages, and the ability for the player to create your own custom championships, the introduction of clubs and completely redesigned engine sounds for that added oomph in atmospheric feeling.
WRC 9 is the endorsed by the world’s top drivers and is quite simply has the most depth of any rally game on Xbox, those new rallies in the game come from Kenya, Japan, and New Zealand), the game welcomes over 15 classic cars and 100 special stages for you to get to grips with and master
WRC9 builds on its previous game in the franchise, keeping the same format in terms of in game physics, car handling, track physics and adds to the atmosphere, with a fantastic redesigned sound system. The newly designed sound system, alongside the ability to cycle through a range of camera viewpoints, really pulls you into the hot seat, and gets that’s pulse racing and the heart thumping!
This game’s menus are simplistic, easy on the eye, and highly informative, with clever detailed descriptions so that you know what to expect when you click through to the next screen. In addition to those already clever menus’ and the modes that could be found in the last outing of the franchise, WRC 9 adds new game modes, especially designed with the community at heart.
There is an all new Club system, where each player can create their own championship and set it live to the world, so that you can take on the absolute best. How is that for added competition, and longevity?
WRC 9 packs it all in, with tweaking the games already impressive physics, and making those subtle changes to provide even greater realism. There have also been several environment changes for the better, whilst adding all-new pacenotes for total immersion into the Rallying world!
For me a rally game these days is all about car and track handling. How it integrates the change of the weather and mixing that with the type of surface of the track or route. A rally game needs to provide a challenge not just with your natural driving ability and speed, but a challenge when it comes to battling for grip with the elements. As a gamer you want to feel those changes, and as a simulation the game needs to surprise you as you feel every bump and grove of the gravel and that icy patch just after you control that jump from that crest.
WRC 9 Provides that battle with the car and the elements, whilst staying true to the realism of what it the game represents. The ultimate authentic Rally experience.
This Rally title has you braving the howling winds, the unrelented rainfall, even snow drifts, as your car squeals in search for any sort of grip and it’s up to you to guide your car round, whilst providing the fastest time possible, without colliding into the nearest tree.
The Handling in the game is spot on, and there are plenty of options to add ABS, Traction Control, as well as whole host of other options to aid your game. What I will say is WRC 9 is a very challenging rally game, difficult to master, but so rewarding when you do. Even the default difficulty is hard as nails, but take your time with the game to move the difficulty sliders and the other settings to provide you the best rally experience, you will not regret it I promise you.
Having mention the weather, the difficulty, and the aids that are available to you in the game, it’s also worth pointing out this rally game goes all in, and provides a detailed set up screen upon the start of each Rally.
As a rally driver you’ll need to pay particular attention to the weather forecasting available in the game and form a strategic approach for tackling the task ahead. Be prepared to alter your racing set-up for each stage and make shrewd decisions when it comes to tires and that sort of thing, as you take all the variable conditions and the traction available into account, as you search for the perfect set up.
WRC 9 wouldn’t be complete without a Career mode, and I am delighted to reveal that this element of the game is quite simply breath taking, and builds upon last year’s effort. Starting at the bottom of WRC pyramid in the juniors or in the middle with WRC3, your goal is to rise as a team to the very heights of the WRC Supercars that produce 380hp from a 1600cc engine.
The Juniors are all built by the same manufacturer, thus starting you all on a level playing field, much is the same with WRC3 cars, however the change is four wheel drive 280hp, a 1.6 litre Turbo and a choice of manufacturers.
Take control of your calendar and populate it with tasks before your next rally event. The tasks available include, taking part in historic races with some classic cars, getting behind the wheel of a battered car and nursing it home in the quickest time possible in some very Extreme Conditions. You can also arrange a training session, to improve your skills and get to grips with all the many bumps, jumps, and tight turns that you are sure to encounter ahead.
Another potential aspect of the calendar is manufacturer try-outs. From time to time you will be offered the chance to get behind the wheels of another manufacturer, and maybe even another class of car. These try-outs will prove vital in progressing your career, as you earn recognition and respect from potential employer’s that may be impressed with the skills you possess, and the handling of their mean machines. One last thing, you could always leave a spot free in the calendar for a little recuperative time. After all if you don’t look after your team who will?
In Career mode there is a lovely upgrade feature. Taking part in the many different events and rally’s on offer, leads to the award of experience points, and a levelling up progression of your character. There is also the ability to earn skill points amongst other things such as reputation and morale levels, which will all prove very useful in the game.
The R&D (Research & Design) section is where you spend your skill points, a chance to develop all characteristics of your team, from earning more slots available to you for staff recruitment, better and more detailed weather reports, to extra experience points for personal progression and reliability skill sets with perks.
There is no I in team! And without a crew you would be nothing. Crew management is something to keep an eye on. Make sure the morale levels are always high in this detailed informative section. Employ mechanics, a meteorologist, an agent, a physical therapist, and a financial director to keep track of the money your bringing into the team.
Other things of note in the Career mode menu is a mail system, for all the vital up to date information, and bill paying. An objectives tab, where you can view and sometimes choose key requirements that the team want you to meet, with in a Rally event. Achieving these requirements, brings in extra cash, XP for driver progression, and team reputation points. WRC 9 all Career mode also features detailed information on all your races, and overall driver standings. So, if statistics is your thing then you will love what is on offer here in these tabs in the menus.
And finally, in Career mode is the test area, a chance to drive without constraints and get a real feel for your car. Try out potential set-ups and see if your car still got soul after all the changes.
For me this is the all singing all dancing part of the game, so detailed and developed with passion, which will keep any gaming rally driver coming back for more. There is always something to do in this management mode, that provides the full experience alongside all the racing and driving elements. It’s also very rewarding too!
Next up is the competition screen, did I not tell you that this game is packed full of choices, it is fantastic right? From within the competition menu, you can jump into online multiplayer via hosting or joining a lobby, or if couch play is your thing, then why not fire up split screen mode, for some close action competitive play. You will also find the challenges section from within this menu. There are two exciting and thrilling options available to you as a driver who fancies a challenge.
Weekly Challenge- allows you to compete against other WRC 9 players around the world. Each week a new challenge is set from a rally stage within the WRC tour for a chance to earn points based on your leaderboard position. And should you not be interested in the points; you can look forward to the challenge of seeing where you rank amongst the absolute best.
WRC 9 is packed with a whole host of features, and some excellently generated modes. The menus are clear and have a certain flamboyance to them. The career mode and what it has to offer is sublime, and the addition of all the online options and the challenges are pure gold and adds to the excitement and replayablitity of the game.
The rally’s themselves are wonderfully created, with some excellent jumps, crests, hairpins, water features, and tight & narrow turns. The back drops around the races are so picturesque, you could almost be forgiven for losing control due to admiring the games graphics and scenery.
The game has numerous racing views, but the game really comes into its own in the cockpit view. You really do feel every bump, turn, screech of the wheels, and although it may look daunting, I feel the game handles better in this view in terms of the cars handling, you seem to be able to control the traction of your tyres a bit more, and the car doesn’t slide around as much.
The sense of speed this game gives off is unbelievable, it’s a rush of adrenaline straight to the heart, and you should crave the top spots of the world leaderboards, I can assure you you’re in for the ride of your life, it will be a test of your throttle and control skills, as I can assure you, you most definitely can’t floor it all the way. The tracks, and the hazards can be unforgiving, and that’s before we take the dynamic weather changes into effect, which really do have a massive impact on your tyres grip.
WRC 9 capture’s the very soul of rally driving, and offer’s a fantastic experience. With beautiful graphics, stunning tracks, and an impressive career mode. The Challenge modes and the all new club mode only add to the potential longevity of the game.
So, overall hopefully I’ve painted the picture that states, that if you’ve ever played a WRC rally game, this is the best one yet, and that there’s enough changes and new ideas for those that have played the latest really games on offer on Xbox to invest in this fantastic effort, and last but not least, I would like to remind you again that WRC 9 supports Smart Delivery, so go buy it!
- Impressive visually
- Career mode is awesome
- Handling is spot on
- Atmospheric Sounds
- Supports Smart Delivery
- Hard to master
- Missing a rewind feature