Time to head to the dirt once more in the latest World Rally Championship game, WRC 9
It's that time of year again folks, new annual release of certain games and as we approach the new console release windows, gaming is hotter than ever! So, nothing beats a good racing game through all different kinds of terrain and weather so let's go to another year of World Rally Championship!
When you load up the game you'll find your way around easily as it is quite similar to last years game (I haven't played the previous ones before WRC8 so it could be similar to the previous ones as well) where you pick your league and then your team and then you're in the hub of the campaign that is your garage. You've still got your calendar, your team management and skill tree and your objectives that change overtime as you achieve or fail them.
The training is really nice because you have an open area in what seems like a little village surrounded by fields and lots of dirt trails to get used to the feeling of different class rally cars but you'll get the hang of it rather quick depending on your previous experience and your assists. Now me I normally drive with top traction control and assists but starting assist is always off and always in manual, I may be a scaredy cat and use assists but I'm not a monster.
Playing through the stages I noticed that the performance really has improved, in WRC8 there were a few instances that I came across some screen tearing and FPS drops now and then but I haven't experienced any of these issues in this latest title. There is some texture popping with foliage in the distance when going at increasing speeds but the weirdest thing I've seen is a helicopter waiting to follow beside me on a straight but the animation wasn't playing so the helicopter was just in the air....floating. The graphics for this game though are still really beautiful looking and the details from things like fog to leaves dropping down from trees to actual storms and the foggy effects of a blizzard especially when you have your foot down wondering if the next turn will be the end of your chance to win the rally.
You have yourself a lovely range of choices for locations and different lengths and elevations of stages to drive ranging from places like Argentina to Japan. Each location offering you a different challenge every time but one of the new kinds of additions are locations that have these sections that are really wide dirt roads that stretch as far as the eye can see and you can literally put the pedal to the metal all the way and it feels amazing, until you hit that one conveniently placed puddle and aquaplanes the hell out of you making you do a full spin ruining the moment. Out of all of the choices of locations ranging from the rocky terrains, to snowy plains, to asphalt routes to desert roads my favourite has to be Japan, tight corners, narrow roads and beautiful scenery to drive erratically.
The roster of vehicles hasn't really changed in all honesty, don't get me wrong the variety is still great ranging from Ford to Toyota but the main iconic licensed vehicles like Subaru and Mitsubishi are still missing but of course this is most likely because Codemasters currently have the license to those vehicles, however for people who aren't aware of the news, Codemasters will have the license to World Rally Championship from 2023, which (and this isn't any disrespect to Codemasters as I love the games they make) it is a real shame because KT Racing are really onto something with this. The game originally started off as a gamepad focused title but over the years with the more experience and the better technology at the developers disposal the game is now borderline sim and feels much better than the DIRT games, I haven't unfortunately got the wheel/pedal/seat set up to experience the game in the best way possible (when I finally move into a house I'll have more space to get a better set up rather than a one bedroom flat).
But the way I've always seen this is each title is an improvement of itself and WRC9 is definitely at its peak of performance. The graphics of the game, the handling model for each of the cars, the choice of cars especially the classic rally cars including the Citroen Xsara and I mean the awesome red one from Gran Turismo 3. I'm also still a massive fan of the sound engineering for this game from the actual cars themselves to the ambience of the storms and seasons of the stages.
My verdict? This is a great purchase and you'll definitely have a lot of fun with its ruthless stages, handling physics, extreme weather conditions and so much more. Theres no information on future downloadable content right now as there doesn't seem to be any kind of season pass but there are a few add-ons available including the old Toyota Corolla and the Audi A4 Quattro, both very famous rally cars. I choose this over DIRT Rally and VRally as it has the healthy balance between simulation and arcade depending on your assist choices.