Review: WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship (PS4)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (17.87 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Developer: Kylotonn Games
Original MSRP: $49.99 (US), €59.99 (EU), £54.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship is also available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

This is the first time we see the WRC franchise on the latest generation console. Titled WRC 5: FIA World Rally Championship, we have a different developer using their own game engine. I slam down the GO pedal and see what shakes loose.

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Gameplay:
I jumped straight into a quick stage race and instantly noticed the controls are tight and responsive. I was racing on an icy course and could feel the varying degrees of friction along the winding road. Each course is divided into sections, so if I mess up, the magic of video games allows me to restart from the beginning of the current section.

You have plenty of options that can alter the difficulty and realism found in this technical rally game. Damage can be only superficial if you wish, but I prefer the lasting effects of a real crash. All damage has lasting effects in the following courses and you only get forty-five minutes in game time to fix your motor at the end of each race day. Time management is a real dilemma as going over that limit means penalties.

… checks your driving skills and alters the difficulty levels accordingly …
You can avoid the repair penalties by letting the computer pick the best things to repair as it never goes over the hour, it all depends on how in-depth you want to get. Because the course times are measured in tenths of a second you really have to be careful, that is unless you have the others drivers on an easy difficulty, which makes the game much more forgiving. You also accrue penalties for cutting corners which means more time added onto your course total.

With a few courses in each location you’ll get to experience some very different picturesque country roads from around the world. Each place gives a wonderfully diverse style of driving that begs for practice and a keen ear. More on that important part of rallying later.

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You can opt to go through rally school which has you performing a wide assortment of tests. You’ll get a demonstration before showing you what you have to do and a controller and pedal diagram on-screen so you can view the necessary buttons and sticks you’ll have to press. Sticking to the guideline, keeping within the time limit, and minimising damage will award a pass.

Before you can get behind the wheel in a rally, the sponsors want you to go through the rally test first. This also checks your driving skills and alters the difficulty levels accordingly. Don’t fret as you can change them later if you wish. You can opt to have superficial damage only, or a scary amount of realism where one wrong knock can, for example, ruin your suspension and cause you to drag on one side, making the rest of the course even more difficult.

… gives a spectacular feel for the varying surfaces …
The invisible off-track barriers that you have with every racing game can occasionally be a little odd in WRC 5. Driving through them instantly puts your car safely back on the track but the location of some barriers is what puzzles me. They’re either very far from the side of the road or suspiciously close.

It can be very jarring to be hurtling down the road and because you glance the invisible wall you jolt back a few yards and are at a complete stop. It only happened on three occasions during my entire time with the game so don’t worry about it too much.

I rarely find a racing game that gives such a great sense of the road surface since most tend to feel like you’re floating. WRC 5 not only gives a spectacular feel for the varying surfaces but also allows for a plethora of controller adjustments. With Dead Zone sensitivity sliders for the brakes, steering, and even acceleration, you are bound to find a scheme to your liking.

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While I’m on the subject of controls, this seems like a good point to mention remote play on the Vita. As you might have guessed, unless you don’t mind pressing the back touch for accelerating and braking, you will need to alter the button configuration. Aside from that, I managed to have a lot of fun using the little handheld console and was able to control the cars well, even with the smaller sticks.

The career mode has you beginning in the Junior WRC and working your way up. Choosing a team each season and keeping them happy means a better performance when repairing your motor. Some want more speed no matter the cost while others want you to keep that motor pristine. Apart from the dirt of course, they don’t mind it coming back caked in mud.

… an afternoon sun baking the dry Mexican dirt roads …
I’m not a trophy hunter as I rarely have the time or inclination. This game however became an obsession and I’m happy to report that..

I GOT THE PLATINUM.

Chazz H.

Visuals:
There is an abundance of variety in the track layout with it approaching a near perfect sense of realism that I don’t often see. Every corner and verge looks distinctive, each and every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse looks different. Okay there might not be any dog houses (or as everyone else calls them, kennels) but you catch my drift and quote, don’t you?

I noticed some minor screen tearing here and there but the long beautiful courses all with dynamic weather and lighting make the marginal deficiency in the graphical clarity very forgivable. The game engine that Kylotonn Games built is impressive, maybe a little rough and unrefined in places, but still very impressive.

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WRC 5 captures everything that I would expect from the different locations, a sombre morning fog rolling across the Welsh countryside, an afternoon sun baking the dry Mexican dirt roads, or the frigid icy Swedish roads all feel just right, and on occasion verge on the spectacular. At times it even shows more variety, density, and realism than any other racing game on the market.

You can set the time of day and weather conditions in the Quick Stage and Rally modes that can significantly change the entire look and feel, especially when you’re hammering through a pitch black forest with only the lights from your car illuminating the treacherous winding dirt road.

Audio:
My only complaint in the audio department was an odd occurrence of driving out of a tunnel but the sound continuing as if I hadn’t. This lasted for the rest of the track and became very annoying.

My wife likened the sound of the rally car’s exhaust to fireworks, and in some respects I would have to agree. I think it’s caused either by an anti-lag system which squirts fuel into the exhaust manifold before the turbo (this keeps the turbo spinning at high-speed), or un-spent fuel being ignited as it leaves the combustion chamber. Whatever the cause might be, I love it – in the confines of the sport – and will be sad when the annoying busybodies eventually get their way and force all of the cars to run quieter than a badgers fart.

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There is something beautiful when you hear the sound of a rally car skidding round the apex of a dirt road, the deep rumble of the powerful engine as it gains speed, the thunderous bangs bouncing off the tall trees as it hurtles by a cheering crowd. WRC 5 manages to capture not only the sound, but the feeling of the rally.

A rally game wouldn’t be complete without the sound of the co-driver reeling off the pace notes, and the quality in WRC 5 is great. You’ll hear either a male or female voice who are both clear, concise, and not afraid to speak out when you slam into a tree. You can adjust the volume and timing of the co-drivers and if you’re crazy you can turn them off entirely. You can even turn off the on-screen pace notes but will soon learn that both of these are extremely valuable.

… The real fun is in the online mode …
Online/Multiplayer:
WRC 5 has a good online offering, especially with the global challenges accessible straight from the main menu, that has everyone compete using the same car, track, and weather conditions to see who can be the best. While I never even came close to the exceptional times of some of the more experienced players, it was still fun and certainly adds value.

Offline multiplayer lets up to eight players race one after another in a hot-seat mode. The real fun is in the online mode where you race along the same track with up to seven other players at the same time, each with their own colored ghost car. This means you still play together but can’t crash into one another. I did however blindly follow the ghost in front over a ridge and straight into a huge rock, so try to ignore them and focus on your co-driver’s instructions instead.

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With all the online games I played I only had a couple of quick stutters when the host left midway into the course. Apart from that the gameplay is silky smooth and very fun. Unless your car is sitting on the start line and whomever has the Start Race option decides to leave, meaning everyone is sat idling never allowed to race, the only option sadly becomes to back out and try again.

There is an extensive leaderboard section on the main menu which many will ignore but it becomes a useful resource when getting better at the game because you can download the ghost data of any of the thousands upon thousands of players.

… the best rally game that I’ve played in many years …
Conclusion:
Kylotonn Games has done themselves and the World Rally Championship proud with a fresh new and vibrant game for this latest generation. While it lacks a touch of diversity and depth that its main competitor had, I must make it abundantly clear that WRC 5 is a solid and very enjoyable rallying game.

The excellent organic level design compounds an already great sense of realism which only adds to the pure enjoyment I’ve had with the game. WRC 5 has quickly become the best rally game that I’ve played in many years and it’s definitely in my top five racing games to date. I urge you to grab this game, every skill level is catered for and everyone will enjoy it.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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