World Rally Championship 6 seeks to capitalise on the foothold last year’s iteration gained on the – until recently – one horse race that has been the rally genre.
DiRT has long been the game that fans would go to to get their high octane kicks, and with good reason – it’s a hell of a series. Being the evolution of the Colin McCrae Rally games, and being developed by veteran speedsters Codemasters, DiRT finally has some competition worth racing.
WRC 6 marks a departure from last gen’s technology, and allows devs Kylotonn Games to really open up and show us what they can create. Thankfully, what they can create is a fiendishly exciting rally game, if one that’s occasionally rough around the edges.
The step-up in graphics is immediately apparent when you take a look at the vast array of cars in the game, each lovingly recreated from the WRC Junior, WRC 2 and WRC categories. On the track, the lighting is also absolutely superb. I’ve never felt genuine unease and fear in a racing game as much as I did heading out into the night in thick fog in WRC 6. In daylight too, your headlights catch glimpses of fences and trees that line the road and if you catch the Sun just right, it will dance through the trees spattering dusty light onto your path.
Pretty as they are, it likely won’t be winning any awards for its graphics – especially when compared to the likes of Forza Horizon 3 – but it holds its own at faster paces. If you really take your time to stop and smell the roses, you’ll see that a lot of the track and scenery textures are pretty bland, and that’s not to even speak of the spectators who wouldn’t look out of place on something from the GameCube era.
Despite looking relatively plain at a slow pace, you can forgive WRC 6 its foibles. Especially when you take into account you’ll likely be too busy eyes fixed forward, with gritted teeth and a puckered anus trying to keep your damn car on the track to care.
The game has all the standard modes you’d expect: time attack, local splitscreen, online multiplayer and casual single player races all make an appearance, but its in the game’s career that things really come alive. Starting in the WRC Junior category, you must race your way through WRC 2 and eventually the WRC proper by winning stages and impressing potential manufacturers. Something much easier said than done considering the high learning curve of the game.
When I was younger, I used to love rally games. I grew up cutting my teeth on the likes of Colin McCrae Rally and V-Rally 3 in the late 90s and early 2000s, becoming a seasoned pro at ‘tight hairpin lefts’ and ‘right three over crests’. Make no mistake though, no matter how good you think you are at racing games, WRC 6 will bite you. Frequently.
The game starts you off in a scripted one-off race that allows it to suggest you a difficulty (you can change it as and when you like) to get you into the swing of things. Even at the lower difficulties though, it’ll take a good few hours before you’re capable of putting a decent stage together. After all, rally driving is one of the hardest sports in the world to conquer – screeching down tight country roads and sliding through picturesque German villages doesn’t come naturally to most.
But this, for me, is one of the beautiful things about the game. It reminds me of the games I used to play as a youngster, particularly of the V-Rally 3 career mode where one mistake could mean you’ve thrown the whole season. You live on the edge for every moment, not having time to second guess if you should break into that next turn or hit the gas to fly over that showstopping jump. It’s purely exhilarating and captures the heart of rally driving.
It’s a shame that WRC 6 likely won’t get much of a look in outside of racing game fans, because what Kylotonn Games have on offer here is incredibly good fun, even if you’ve never picked up a rally game in your life. For those that have – and are looking for an excuse to dive back in – then WRC 6 offers hours of high octane action with more than enough content to keep you busy until WRC 7 hits shelves next year.