It must be tough being the Kylotonn WRC development team. This is a realistic rendition of a niche sport that over the years has really been brought into the public consciousness by stars such as Colin McCrae and his licensed computer games. In any other year, it’s likely that WRC 6 would be the essential game for rally enthusiasts, but Codemasters returned to the genre earlier this year with Dirt Rally. This changes things somewhat.
Last year’s effort saw WRC straddle the console generations, but with only the current crop of consoles and PC to worry about, it’s clear that big strides have been taken with the franchise’s visuals. However, despite the improvements in the game’s visuals, there are still a number of very disappointing technical issues that are obvious from the outset. Any fly-bys or external camera work before a race are beset by a poor frame rate and screen tearing, juddering along in a manner that you simply don’t expect from a modern release.
Heading into a race and the problems continue. You could have excused some of this if the landscapes and level furniture received a huge revamp, but they’re still rudimentary in comparison with the raft of racing games released this year. Compared with the latest version of the phenomenal Dirt Rally this feels compromised. The level of pop-in on PS4 when you’re driving is such that it’s a huge distraction, and you could well come away from a play session with a pounding headache.
Elsewhere though presentation is clean and clear, and the car models really do look the part, especially when they’re not moving. You can also take a closer look at all of the different vehicles in the car showroom, though sadly not at the interior.
There’s a raft of game modes and special events to fling those cars around, including a full career mode where you move from Junior WRC, through WRC 2 and into the big leagues, as well as a series of periodic challenges including drift challenges where your handbrake is disabled. You do begin to overlook the plentiful graphical glitches the more time you spend trying to wrestle your car around the track.
It’s in the handling model that WRC 6 manages to redeem itself. It offers a level of customisation across its main modes that belies some of the more rudimentary elements of the game, and you can opt for a range of assists or disable them one by one until you’re wholly in control of your car. The game will actually be able to help you find a suitable setting here, as it takes you through the game’s opening before suggesting a difficulty level and handling model. Of course, it’s entirely your prerogative to ignore this and choose your own, but it’s a nice inclusion, and all adds up to a level of accessibility that Dirt Rally is missing.
With the game’s focus on ensuring the most accurate rendition of the World Rally Championship it’s perhaps no surprise to find it features all fourteen rounds of this year’s season, with the Rally China making its debut despite having actually been cancelled due to severe weather. Of course it also features many of the top drivers, from Sébastien Ogier to Kris Meeke as well as their respective teams.
In line with many fan’s requests the stages are more exacting than ever, with tighter roads and realistic camber which all makes it feel more authentic than ever before. They’re shorter approximations of real world stages, as opposed to running for dozens of miles as in real life, and with a number of landmarks included. There are, however, perfect recreations of eleven of this year’s Super Special Stages to careen around.
WRC 6 handles achievements and trophies in an odd manner, with extra in-game accomplishments accompanied by an icon telling you what you’ve done in a achievement-esque fashion. They’re largely separate to your trophies though, and though I couldn’t hugely see the reasoning behind having yet more icons popping up on the screen, they do at least do a good job of recording your progress in various areas.
WRC 6 is a valiant effort from the team at Kylotonn Games, but when placed against the defining Dirt Rally, it comes up distinctly short. Whilst it is undeniably the best entry in the WRC series, there’s still plenty of work to be done for it to reach the top of the podium.
Version Tested: PS4