Just like Liam Neeson’s character in Taken, you need ‘a very particular set of skills‘ for WRC 9. These unforgiving time trials don’t sugar coat the challenge but they do provide a lot of entertainment for those who love their official rally races.
So, this is not your arcade racer but a fully licensed, fully featured entry into the World Rally Championships, just as it was last year with WRC 8 but with new rally stages and plenty of tweak under the hood. Why should you buy it if you own WRC 8, then? Because it’s better, much better.
Having competition, in the form of Dirt Rally 2.0, seems to have done WRC 9 the world of good. What was a good, solid racer under a pretty grimy coat of dirt is now something far more beautiful. The new stages, including a fantastic looking New Zealand course, really feel much more realistic with proper lighting and particle effects at every twist and turn (and there are plenty of those). Japan is worth a mention, too, as it has a very different feel to it and is a welcome addition to the new countries included in this year’s release.
Epic Stages are back with an emphasis on endurance and really do require concentration and a mastery of the car’s handling to complete. Career mode has seen the least change from WRC 8 but didn’t really require much of a change, anyway, though some sort of ‘create a team’ option wouldn’t have gone amiss. Clubs mode is the most interesting addition as it gives you a ton of options to play around with to tweak a challenge and then offer it up to your friends/victims to try out.
Multiplayer via the online eSports style lobbies seems to be pretty robust and should provide longevity given that this is a pretty authentic experience that really leans itself to sim-style eSports racing but there’s also split-screen for those who would rather challenge a friend nearer to home.
The cars feel heavier and more in touch with the physics of their real life counterparts than ever before and they even sound more realistic. The AI works well and gives you some stiff competition, too, adding to the difficulty level, especially in later stages where one wrong footing could mean a trip down the standings.
Not everything is perfect, I found plenty of small glitches here and there in both graphics and sound but nothing game breaking. It feels like the side effect of the programming team at KT Racing pushing harder to get this looking and feeling better, if anything, but they’re there and it would be remiss of me to not mention these.
With some great new stages and existing ones that look far better than they’ve ever done before, new modes and much improved physics and AI, WRC 9 is a no-brainer for rally fans or those looking to get into the authentic WRC experience.