With previous developer Milestone stepping away from the officially licensed WRC series and instead working on their own game, Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo, the keys to the franchise have been passed over to French studio, Kylotonn Games.
With their two previous ventures in to the racing genre coming in the way of Motorcycle Club (community rating of 1.5/5) and Truck Racer (community rating of 2/5), you would be forgiven for feeling some apprehension before you take WRC 5 for a spin, but the actual result is a decent racer, providing you can look past the many bumps in the road ahead.
The vast majority of your time with WRC 5 will be spent in the game’s career mode. It’s very much a no frills experience that focuses on the racing with very little in-between. You begin your journey in the WRC-J, with less powerful cars and less stages to compete in, before advancing to the WRC-2 and finally onto the WRC, racing against the sports officially licensed drivers and teams (complete with their 2015 liveries) as you aim to become the world champion.
Each season you will have a choice of teams to race for, with each one promoting a type of mentality and strategy to aim towards, as well as differing co-driver mentalities. It adds something else for you to look at when choosing which team to plump for, but it didn’t seem to really affect anything beyond that as the main thing that will determine how successful or not you are will be your ability to make your way around the track as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Once you’re behind the wheel, the handling is quite forgiving, even with less assists turned on to help, and there are various settings that make the game both accessible for newcomers, and offer a challenge to the more experienced drivers. With so many different assists and a choice between difficulties though, it will require some tweaking in order for you to get the best from the game. Have it set too easy and you will be able to be as reckless or as slow as you want and will win no matter what, and too high and you’ll be frustrated. Get it right however, and you begin to get the excitement of the real sport as you balance the need for speed with the need to keep your car in good condition for the next stage.
In-between stages you will be given the opportunity to repair your car in preparation for the next day’s racing, and with only 45 minutes available you’ll be able to choose which parts of the car to fix before you run out of times. On easy settings it’s very much a case of being able to fix everything with time to spare, but on higher damage settings, it becomes just as important as the racing itself. Do you repair some bodywork that you left on the side of the road earlier, do you work on your suspension that is starting to struggle, or do you work on your gearbox that looks like it has had better days.
Through the career you’ll take part in thirteen different rallies, across various different types of road surface, and the game does a good job of providing different feedback for each, from the snow filled Swedish corners to the dusty straights of Argentina, each rally feels different and with five stages for each, you’ll have to pay close attention to your co-driver in order to stay on the road ahead. There is also a nice balance for each rally between different times of day and weather, with some stages held at night and some taking place in the rain.
Outside of the handling the game offers a much bumpier ride. Some aspects such as the car detail, sound and some occasional lighting effects are very nice, but in other areas the game suffers from a lack of budget to go along with its smooth ride. Screen tearing and frame rate drops aren’t uncommon and there are a number of bugs which include: your co-driver seemingly falling asleep as he stops giving you direction half way through a stage, occasional game freezes that kick you to the dashboard, moments where you will be going over seemingly smooth road and the back end of your car falls off as if you’ve smashed into a wall at full speed, and on one rally a strange AI bug that makes it seemingly impossible to finish first no matter how easy you make it for yourself. None of them are game breaking bugs that will stop you playing, but they do make the overall experience less enjoyable than it otherwise would be.
Outside of the career, the rest of the game is pretty lightweight. There’s a Quick Stage mode that allows you to pick any stage from the 65 available and select the time of day and weather to race in, and Quick Rally where you can select a location and car of your choosing and complete all of the stages.
In multiplayer the game is pretty much dead already. After multiple attempts I’ve not been able to find other people online to race against, and instead have had to use a second Xbox and a family member to try it out. Similar to the Quick Stage in single player, multiplayer races take place of single stages, with nothing more to aim for than finishing first. There’s no progression and very little reason to play it.
Aside from the online multiplayer, there is an offline multiplayer option that works by allowing you to pass the controller to the next player once you’ve set your stage time. This allows up to eight people to play, but if you’re going last you’ll find that the seven other multiple coloured ghost cars around you are a huge distraction that means you’ll have a severe handicap to the player who went first.
The game’s achievements are very straight forward, and the vast majority will be earned by progressing through career mode, winning at each rally location and working your way up to becoming the WRC world champion. You can make this as easy or hard as you want by adjusting the difficulty and assists available. The French rally has a very strange bug that makes the AI finish one stage around thirty seconds faster than is actually possible, which will make the achievement for winning that stage difficult for many.
The game also has a few multiplayer achievements, but you will most likely need to join/create a gaming session or have a friend that owns the game to earn, as you’ll be hard pushed to find races already. The Online Tourist achievement for completing five online stages is unobtainable at the moment, despite achievements for completing 10 stages unlocking as it should.
SummaryIf you’re looking for a rally game to play on the Xbox One, or if you follow the sport closely, WRC 5 offers a solid racer that has a nice balance between being accessible for all and offering a challenge to those looking for a more simulated experience. As with real rally driving, it's far from a smooth ride, with visual and gameplay bugs that will annoy you along the way, but if you’re willing to look beyond them, WRC 5 offers good handling, a nice variety of stages and environments to race on, and does a solid job of capturing the spontaneous and concentration-filled essence of the sport.
- Good handling
- A wide choice of assists and difficulty options
- A large number of stages and environments
- Numerous bugs
- Odd moments of screen tearing and frame rate drops
- Glitchy achievements
EthicsThe review spent around fifteen hours racing through the game's career mode and looking for multiplayer races, earning 33 of its 37 achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review.
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