WRC 4 Review (360)
Rally games are a strange kettle of fish. There have been plenty of them on the go now over the years. Sega Rally, Colin Mcrae (laterly Dirt) and WRC have been the main contenders and each has its own distinct style. WRC would have to be classified as the “simulator” amongst them, but the consistent trend is that rally games always seem to fall short of their other racing simulator counterparts, especially in looks.
Unfortunately, WRC 4 doesn’t break this trend. Considering that we’re at the end of a console generation, and the quality of other recent racing titles, such as GRID 2 and even Gas Guzzlers Extreme, then WRC 4 is left looking a little sorry for itself. And it’s simple things that could really make the difference, such as bump mapping the dry stone walls at the side of the road. If you were to stop by one (read: crash into) to take a look, you can see that the walls are just primitive cuboids with a flat texture on them. Taking a close look at the car you see a lot of Aliasing, particularly on the wheels. The cars do fall apart quite nicely though when you take them for a bumpy off track adventure. Crash barriers also crumple where you hit them, which is a nice feature.
WRC 4 features an all new, in-depth career mode which has you first competing for other teams as a wild card before you get to sign a contract in the Junior World Rally Championship with high aspirations of making it through WRC 3 & 2 before hitting the main WRC. While the Junior WRC uses only the Ford Fiesta, and WRC 3 uses only the Citroen DS3, when you reach WRC 2 and the main WRC you have a much wider selection of vehicles to drive in. The game is fully licensed, so has all the official drivers and cars of the different classifications, with the cars being graded by a Performance score. The difference in power from the bottom of the ladder to the top is quite noticeable, as it should be. The liveries of all the cars look really nice, but again that aliasing is such an issue that all I notice are the white flickers at the side of each mesh piece.
There is a nice viewing area when you are selecting a car for either a non career or multiplayer race, and in fact all the menus and interfaces are appealing. During a rally weekend you will find yourself back at the service yard for repairs and also to look at timing information or to tweak the performance of your car. Here the interface is built into the 3D environment, and textures and font of the menus have a purposeful dirty, rustic look to them, which absolutely fits with the style of the game. Possibly the best part of the interface is when you get to customise your profile. Not only do you get to put in your name and pick as close as you can look-alike for yourself, and customise your co-driver in the same manner, but you get to pick a custom number plate for your vehicle in the game. Now you can have that custom plate you always wanted!
But back to the main feature, the driving. One unique point about Rally Driving as a sport is just how close the crowd actually get to the action. You will see them dotted around the course at corners or built up sections. They aren’t anything to write home about though, with only a few different model types which all run off the same bank of about ten generic animations. Fortunately you will be driving past them so quickly that you will hardly notice, and the same applies to the other complaints I made earlier. The cars handle much as you would expect them to across the variety of terrains you will be driving on, and there is a great selection of views to choose from during the race. If you pause the game it is also possible to go into a free camera mode for lining up action shots, except there is no way to actually capture the shot on the console version.
So WRC 4 is just another rally game. The gameplay is fast and furious driving in a largely disappointing environment. Rally games have always tried to hide low quality behind the sheer thrill of the race itself, but isn’t it about time we were expecting to SEE a better quality of game, rather than just feel the same excitement we always have? The 360 version has an easy set of achievements, so there’s 1000 available to anyone who can see past the low quality graphics.
3 flat textured walls out of 5