I have the uncanny knack for being the one lumped with driving games when it comes to review duties. Not that I mind, but I’ve played just about all of them over the course of this generation.
Apart from WRC.
Somehow – either through fate or misfortune – I’ve not gotten around to the WRC series, and WRC 9 is my first taste of what this series is all about. Well, that’s not necessarily true – I did play one of the PS Vita games, but I dumped it after half an hour, declaring it crap.
That hasn’t happed with WRC 9 and I don’t think it’s in any danger of landing on my infamous Pile of Crap that I’ve had to review over the past decade. Phew.
WRC 9 is the officially licensed rally game for the FIA Rally Championship, meaning what you get here is the full-fat experience, with the extra fat being licsend cars, manufacturers, and drivers, as well as interpretations of real-life rally race tracks.
Now, like in other racing games before it, WRC 9 would not normally be my go-to racing game. I love arcade-sims, like the Forza Horizon Series, or Grid. Rally isn’t my strong point and I’ve never gone out of my way to play a rally game, apart from when Dirt 2.0 got that PSVR update. I bought that at full price and didn’t regret it, even if my stomach did.
But I’m not against trying new things, and my new found love for Truck Racing is proof of that, so I gave WRC 9 a fair shot, and I’ve come out quite surprised, as usual, to find that I don’t need the flash of a AAA production or the pointless grind for meaningless trinkets to have a good time.
WRC 9 gives you options and more than I could have guessed. You’ve the choice to start down in the rookie championship with the WRC Junior, or you can head straight to the top and see what those guys and gals make of you. I started from the bottom with the expectation that it would be easier and allow me time to get familiar with the game’s car handling and tracks. It did, and by the end of the season, I had no trouble throwing my beat-up motor over 4-long lefts, wobbly jump 69, and the other gobbledegook that my co-driver was constantly screaming at me. To be fair, I’ve never understood what all those little phrases really mean – does anyone? – but there is a visual aid that gives you a rough idea what the next part of the course will be, so don’t worry about not understanding the lingo.
Car handling is a fundamental part of racing games, and WRC 9 doesn’t disappoint. Throwing cars over bumps and drifting them around deadly hairpins isn’t easy, but once you’ve got the feel for the way the game handles each car, it’s very satisfying and it becomes a little too natural to throw caution to the wind every now and again, at the expense of precious seconds on the clock.
Speaking of which, if you’re not familiar with rally racing, you don’t actually compete head-to-head, but instead you’re racing against the times set by other drivers. There are some special events, though, and they spice things up a touch. My favourite were the extreme weather events because I’m a sucker for snow and I haven’t had a decent bit of snow at home for a few years. I’m easily pleased and WRC 9 is an easy pleaser.
Career Mode is where I spent most of my time in WRC 9. It’s easy to get lost within its career mode because it’s quite deep and it forces you to take on roles that aren’t usually offered to players. You need to keep your team going, and that means keeping a steady stream of cash coming in.
Just like the real world, everything costs money. You pay your teams, you pay for research and development, and you even pay to enter the daily, weekly, and monthly events. The idea is that you invest your cash in races you think you’ve got a chance in, or in my case, every race possible because I’m a spread-better.
The management side isn’t terribly difficult and its set up is actually really cool. Rather than it just being a series of screens and spreadsheets, the office is represented from a top-down view, with the camera shifting to each relevant part of the office as you scroll through the menu. It’s something different it makes the mundane housekeeping a little more enjoyable and interactive.
For those who want it, there’s online multiplayer with eSport capabilities. For me, I was just happy to keep plodding through the main career mode, earning new cars and showing off at special events to car manufacturers, like some kind of show pony. Who am I kidding, I enjoy the attention, and it’s a really good way of making progress in career mode and getting an early taste of what cars you’ll be abusing later on in the career mode.
WRC 9 is officially licensed, so if you’re a rally fan who knows the names of drivers, recognises the courses, and cares about authenticity, you’ll get that and more. It’s a highly polished release and a genuinely good rally racer. With that in mind, if you really aren’t a fan of rally games, WRC 9 won’t change your mind. But general racers who don’t mind playing what is essentially Time Attack for hours on end, go for it, you’re gonna love it.
WRC 9 PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
WRC 9 is a solid, highly-polished rally racer with more than enough content to keep you busy for a long time. Career mode has depth, and not just for the sake of it. Single-players will get their kicks throwing motors around famous tracks from the world over, with visits to New Zealand, Kenya, and Wales for some of the best racing out there today.
- Great handling that feels weighty, responsive, and representative of the real thing
- A deep career mode with some nice touches to the UI
- eSports for those interested
- Some areas lacking in graphical polish
- Audio can be hit-and-miss, sometimes sounding a touch off
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.