Review: WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (23 GB)
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive)
Developer: KT Racing
Original MSRP: $49.99 (US), £49.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Well, KT Racing managed to squeeze out another WRC game before the next generation of consoles arrives.

Gameplay:
WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship builds upon its predecessor with a few little tweaks and, more importantly, feels better behind the wheel too. A straight-to-the-point menu greets you when booting up the game, with the last played mode as the first tile, allowing the player to jump straight back into the action as quickly as possible.

Sadly, the length of my last name is still too long when starting a career, so I revert back to the usual single letter. If this issue carries on to the next-gen version I might consider changing my name just to avoid this bizarre problem.

As I mentioned before, the vehicles handling physics are much better this time, which might upset some, as the arcade feel isn’t as noticeable now. I would like an option to switch between an authentic or arcade setup, but no such luck. That reminds me, the Race Master Trophy requirement is to ‘Win a stage on Authentic difficulty,’ although in this iteration, no such difficulty exists. It probably just means upping the slider to its maximum and turning on realistic damage, which I tried but couldn’t reach a podium finish. Given that the Trophy has yet to be obtained by a single person, there might be an issue there.

I’m happy to see the inclusion of Japan, New Zealand, and Kenya in the line-up. The latter is drastically different from the usual locations, and I love putting the pedal to the metal and speeding across the savanna. Japan is a tough one; it doesn’t help that I keep getting distracted by the scenery.

The Monte-Carlo Rally was nail-biting, and I limped over the finish line in a car that should have given up the ghost long before. It was tough, and it was only luck that I managed first place. The Swedish Rally was the polar opposite, I breezed through with an average lead of one minute. I’m not sure if the difficulty, with regard to the opponent’s times, needs balancing or I just had some bad luck.

I was pleased to discover that special stages in Portugal and Finland will be added to the game as part of a free update. This bolsters an already sizable and varied line-up.

The Training and Career modes make a return with no noticeable changes. I would normally spend most of my time in the Career, but the Season mode is just racing, pure and simple, which is better for the purposes of this review. I’m not overly keen on the constant need to swap my team around to let them rest and recover. This mode does nudge you into the Training and Historic events which, admittedly, are a nice distraction sometimes.

The Test Area is back once again and still serves little purpose other than to mess around. I would love this to be included in the online mode and have players set their own mini rallies, or just have some hidden collectibles to hunt down.

I was planning on hooking up my Thrustmaster T150 steering wheel but it seems to have given up the ghost. I also linked up my BT LED Display. I wasn’t expecting it to work, and it didn’t. Fanatec is the official WRC steering wheel partner. I’m reminded of this every time the game loads something and I must say, I am tempted to have a look for a new wheel.

Visuals:
The nice weather effects remain intact from the previous game, although I believe the mud on the windscreen has been improved, but don’t quote me on that. The weather is now more dynamic and can change during a rally, although not from clear to snow or vice versa. That’s probably due to the hardware limitations and might be something we see on the next-gen consoles.

The cameramen and spectators still refuse to turn their heads and watch the cars as they go by, and, even though I saw some livestock, I couldn’t see if they turned their heads like in the previous review. In the puddle reflections I noticed what can only be described as scan-lines. They weren’t in the older game, but are very noticeable now and something I hope gets patched soon.

Compared with DiRT Rally 2.0, the differences are noticeable, but this one still looks great and manages to make each stage feel varied and unique, which is an impressive feat, as some of them take about twenty minutes to complete.

Audio:
There is still a British, French, and Spanish Co-driver’s voice to choose from. My complaint last time was that it sounded too much like a studio recording. I didn’t get that as much this time, but my wife was disappointed they replaced the very well-spoken English voice.

The co-driver still remains silent when the car slams into a tree, or the radiator breaks, which pulls me out of the immersion. I also had an issue with losing the engine sounds near the start of a rally, but aside from that, it’s all good in this department.

Online/Multiplayer:
I had a quick go or two in this mode, mainly to get the only online Trophy and enjoyed what I played; I even won one of them. The best part is the split-screen. The wife got roped into playing with me this time as the kids were at school or on their phones. It was good fun and, just like in previous years, it worked well.

I was going to try for a few badges but the esports mode would be on for over one hundred days. There is a free update coming that will add a co-driver mode, which allows a fellow player to read pace notes to the driver. This sounds great, but you will have to try it for yourself. There will also be a new Clubs Mode that allows players to create customized championships between friends.

Conclusion:
WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship is a great game, and, along with the free updates, could turn out to be even better. But, there are still a few bugs and issues that hold it back. None of what’s wrong stops me from having a blast, and I could easily see myself playing this for a long time to come.

The raft of modes will keep fans of the genre busy. The online works well, and the upcoming free update should add more value to that. The roster of stages is great and is also set to increase with the aforementioned update.

The improved handling physics are both good and bad. The vehicle has more weight, and momentum has often seen one side lift as I enter a sharp banked turn. However, it isn’t perfect and has caused a few annoying stage restarts. The arcade feel has dwindled because of this change, which I do miss a little and fans of the series might too.

Because of the disruption to the 2020 season, this is the only way to get your fix. It’s to be expected the developers at KT Racing can’t fit in the entire rally; close to 560 miles is good enough for me.

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, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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