As Chris said in his original WRC 9 review, WRC 9 is a highly polished release and a genuinely good racer, and that statement still holds. What Chris didn’t say in his original review, but needs to be said here is – racing games are not my usual go-to game, but WRC 9 has done a slap-up job of making me a convert.
Adding a few licks of PS5 paint, as well as haptic and DualSense support, WRC 9 marks a solid entry point for the future of racing games on the PS5. The visuals, already impressive on the PS4, truly shine here, with reflections and light bouncing off your car, all supported by a solid frame rate that manages to keep up with the action on the screen.
Now to me, racing games always manage to look good, and WRC 9 is no exception. WRC 9 looks good on the PS4, and it looks better on the PS5. I am not going to wax lyrical about frame rates and Hz output, but as for being a feast on the eyes WRC 9 ticks all the boxes.
An early race has you racing at night, and WRC 9 really gets across how this would feel. Your headlights light the way, casting shadows and reflecting off puddles in the road. Outside the cone of light cast by your car, it is hard to see much else, and I had to shift the camera angle to better focus on the road ahead – the first time I have had to do this in a racing game for something other than personal playing preference, and that is testament to how the game looks.
What WRC 9 really nails is the haptic feedback and little touches that are now possible through the DualSense controller. From the beginning of each race, as you accelerate through the starting gate, the DualSense conveys the action on the screen into subtle yet impressive vibrations through the controller. Not just that, but the road surface is conveyed through crafty and ingenious vibrations and haptic feedback. Whether your car skids around in the snow or the dirt of a country road, you get a sense for how this feels in the way the controller hums, and the haptic triggers relay this by changing the resistance in every press of the accelerator and brake. Even braking at speed feels different and offers more resistance, which is subtle enough to go unnoticed but makes a huge difference when combined with the other changes WRC 9 implements.
Such changes are small, but make a huge difference in the immersion and feel you get for a game. Usually, I get bored with racing games because my desire to be the fastest isn’t matched by my skill, and I usually end up spending more time off the track than on it. With the addition of haptic feedback, I really felt like I got a feel for the road as the car rattled and screeched its way around each bend and bump. After the few initial training missions WRC 9 guides you through, I was up and rallying with the best of them and as much as I was guided by what I was seeing on screen, it was the clever and new ways that this was translated into my hands that really helped me to get to grips with what I was doing, and its effects can not be understated, however subtle they are.
Having said that, I am still a long way off being a racing pro, and I did end up spending a fair amount of time off-road. WRC 9 makes use of this too, with pings and pops emitting from the DualSense speaker to relay the debris bouncing off the underside of my car. When combined with the vibrations and haptic feedback, this felt unusual to the point it was distracting but through perseverance, this too helped me to get a feel for the road and how it should be navigated.
WRC 9 is still the same game under the hood that it was on the PS4, but if you own the original, this comes with a free upgrade should you have managed to nab yourself a PS5. If you don’t and your itching to see how a racing game plays with all the added bells and whistles the PS5 allows, WRC 9 is a great starting point for racing purists and novices alike.