I’ve never been a fan of serious, competitive racing games as I find ramming opponents off the road, cutting corners and soaring through the air much more fun. It doesn’t matter how spectacular it looks, if it doesn’t follow the same road rules as Burnout I don’t want to know, however it seems my gaming ignorance has caused me to disregard a series that actually seems right up my street. It features twists and turns perfect for abandoning the road at will, exotic locations that take me away from a boring tarmac ridden track and innocent bystanders in prime position to be accidentally run over; who knew rally was so fun? I can safely say this is the greatest Rally game I’ve ever played.
WRC 5 is the latest instalment in the popular and long standing rally racing franchise now in its 12th incarnation releasing for the first time on PS4 and Xbox One. For avid fans of the impressive series, you can expect to find the most up to date roster and rally circuits to coincide with this year’s World Rally Championships. WRC 5 has been armed with a completely new engine (which is quite fitting for a racing game) that with it brings impressive visuals, realistic handling and advanced damage models, all of which aim to make WRC 5 the best and most essential rally game yet. As well as the new development kit, players can now experience new dynamic lighting & weather conditions, balanced driving assistance and vehicle preparation, which is strange for me as never before have I had to look after my car, looks like those barriers are going to be taking less of a beating than usual. With 13 rallies spanning over 14 countries tackling snow, mud and gravel infested tracks, WRC 5 certainly boasts more horse power than any rally racing game to date, but is it all just torque? (I’ve heard it has something loosely to do with motoring. If I’m wrong you have to admit it’s a superb pun!)
In all honesty, I have nothing to compare my review with as I’ve never played a ‘serious’ rally game before, (I tell a lie, I’ve played Dirt 3 but that had a skate park for cars but that was just bloody daft). With that being said, I’ve never been so engaged nor had so much fun playing a competitive motorsport as everything about the racing itself works perfectly, even if it did take a while to get up to speed with it. After a brief romp through the game’s ‘Driving School’ to learn the basics I was recommended a particular difficulty to play on and the game amended the default presets (damage control, traction etc), however I found this a tad too difficult and I was relieved to find I could change these myself and chose my own style of difficulty with ease as I got better. It wasn’t long before I was cruising through each Rally and dominating each of my foes and not once did I find the rally tracks to feel repetitive or too similar to each other in both looks and play style. Each country you visit feels incredibly different from any you’ve raced in before and the team at Kyloyonn have done very well at creating 65 exhilarating and original race tracks. Unless you follow the actual World Rally Championships religiously, then you won’t know the names or faces of rally’s most notorious drivers, but in WRC 5 you can take control of 51 official crews and 43 teams, so the commitment the studio has shown to the motorsport is undoubtedly impressive, even if it does go unappreciated by casual fans. With the changes to the game’s dynamics and physics with the ’Kt Engine HD’, your vehicles handle as well as you’d expect them to in real life, a realistic level of difficulty that feels genuinely satisfying and different to any racing game you’ve tackled before. As for WRC 5’s various game modes, nothing is out of the ordinary. In the game’s ‘Career Mode’ you begin as a young junior driver with dreams of making it in the big leagues and in time you will as you progress through the ranks to be the best. You will find yourself racing down the same tracks you’ve done before as you climb up the ladder which isn’t surprising, however your vehicles will become more aggressive and difficult to tame which is when the real challenge and variety steps in. The only other stand out feature is the game’s special online challenges, a chance to showcase your skills to the world. These challenges can last anywhere between 3 days to 3 months and they are constantly changing to give you new opportunities to enjoy the game further; in January the WRC 5 esports tournament starts, so be sure to pick up your copy before then.
Kyloyonn Games, the new kids on the block, have clearly allocated their time in the best way possible and in doing so have crafted a terrific driving game, however on the flip side it’s a shame that the game’s overall presentation has thus suffered, making it disappointing at the best of times. Even with the incredibly loud sounds spewing out of your cars exhaust, the game is a quiet one with little to no atmosphere that makes you wonder whether the race is actually worth taking part in. With few poorly animated spectators scattered throughout the track, there is no encouragement or, pardon the pun, rally behind you that doesn’t make the game look or sound nearly as exciting as it actually plays. As well as the lack of mass supporting crowds, WRC 5 also forgets to feature exciting presentation at the beginning and end of each track, which granted isn’t what the game is all about, but it does make for a boring game to watch. This theme of boredom also runs in the game’s menus, though arguably they are simple and sufficient it just screams unoriginality and lack of creativity, especially with the absence of a proper soundtrack.
WRC 5 is a formidable driving experience that accurately portrays the dangerous and exhilarating motorsport; however it does so by cutting a few corners. On one hand you’ve got the most realistic and challenging WRC game to date which will please fans of the sport and franchise, but on the other hand the game lacks the exciting atmosphere and drive that has been seen in its predecessors. WRC 5 is sadly a title that doesn’t look or sound as impressive as it plays out, but now the mould has been created and with experience and a little more time, Kyloyonn Games may not be far off creating the best rally racing experience yet, let’s just see if Codemasters have what it takes to reclaim pole position.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.