WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 12.10.2020 3

Review for WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Another year, another season of some dirt-rally action, with Kylotonn (also known as KT Racing) bringing the 2020 season to the digital world. While most of last year's tracks return, there are three new rally events to add to the season, while the visuals look more polished and detailed, especially on the dirt tracks. Last year's career mode has returned as well, and for the most part it is largely the same, with very minimal changes to the formula. While the jump between WRC 7 and WRC 8 seemed like an evolutionary leap, WRC 9 feels like the same title with minor tweaks to ensure a high quality experience for newcomers, and those returning to the series. Despite the lack of major differences or new features, the rallying is still at a premium and highly addictive.

For those returning to the series, then WRC 9 is pretty much last year's title, with further tweaks made to the car physics to make it more realistic, while the visual fidelity has taken another step forward. The impressive details to the water or mud splashes, and the dust that kicks off the back of the tyres, as well as the stunning vistas and locales adds a heightened sense of realism to this new season of rallying. Even the small drone that appears in front of the car at the start of the races is a nice touch. Combined with another year of booming audio tracks that do an excellent job of hyping up the race events with its pompous soundtracks, the presentation here coalesces into a finely polished rally offering.

Those who aren't quite aware about what rally is, then this sport is simply a race against time to post the best score possible on a series of tracks. This isn't a grid-base Formula 1 experience that is bent on overtaking opponents on a track. WRC 9 is all about individualistic racing, and putting the best foot forward to get the fastest score. The AI opponents' scores are all randomly generated based on the difficulty setting, though even on the easiest setting, there is nothing easy about conquering the tracks. WRC 9 is not that generous in offering an easy experience for newcomers.

Screenshot for WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

The main offline feature here is 'Career Mode,' which is largely untouched from last year's iteration: build a team by putting together crew members to fill out the match-day team, while filling out the reserves with the back-up crew. The skill-tree returns with the four sections that branch out into their own perks and benefits, by using skill points that are earned after levelling up during the career. Aside from the new rally events, with New Zealand, Kenya and Japan tracks joining the roster, added to reflect the licensed season that WRC 9 represents, Career doesn't offer anything different for those who are returning for a new season. Not that it's a bad thing as this mode was heaps of fun last year, and that remains true for WRC 9.

Career mode comprises of a schedule that can be filled up with various events, from training drills, to manufacturer's try-outs and challenges, to historic and extreme events through to the official WRC Championship Events. Each one brings with it its own set of challenges, and these provide different ways to experience the rallies. For example, extreme events will place the car with some serious crash and motor damage onto a race track with… well, extreme weather conditions. The rewards differ across the different events, with some events offering a bigger cash prize, while others may reward more experience points to level up quicker.

Screenshot for WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Start in WRC Junior, and slowly forge a career through the rankings to reach WRC. Earning money opens the door to purchasing more expensive crew members, who are more efficient in their roles to better the team. With each new level, using those ability points into different sections of the skill tree to slowly improve the team in each facet, is a part of what makes Career mode an immersive experience. Crew members can also get fatigued as well, so resting them during certain events adds to the crew-management side of things. Having extra crew in the reserves allows for replacements to fill in, so other crew members can recover.

The main annoyance with Career mode is a similar issue that plagued the mode in last year's title: the arbitrary objectives. Basically, there are two objectives that will be randomly allocated: a short-term and a long-term objective - completing these objectives will earn rep with the driver's manufacturer; however failing these objectives will incur negative rep. So far this seems fair, however oftentimes both objectives will clash with each other, ensuring that at least one of those objectives will be a failure. While this issue was prominent in WRC 8, it's unfortunate to see that nothing has changed for this year's title and this problem still persists.

In terms of the racing itself - the car mechanics are quite sublime. Drifting around corners with the help of the co-driver's vocal instructions is always a treat, especially when a corner is conquered due to a split-second flick of the joystick, or a well-timed handbrake pull on the tight hairpin. Each car plays or handles differently, and it can take a few goes to get the handles of the controls, especially when dabbling in the historic events. This leads to the next issue and one that does hold back WRC 9: limited replays for medium difficulty or higher. With some races, it can take three or four tries to finally get a grasp of how a certain car controls - unfortunately, four replays is all that's allowed to restart a race to reach that high score.

Screenshot for WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

The only way to remove the replay limit is to drop the difficulty down to 50% (easy) - though this also affects the score times upon which to compete against. Arguably one of the most satisfying experiences in these racing games is finally conquering a difficult track and achieving top spot with the fastest times - but the limited restarts in WRC 9 has negated the joys of spending hours on a track trying to get the best score possible. That's not to say that the limited replays can't still be a thing for those who wish to add in that extra challenge - but there should have been an option to turn it off for those who enjoy playing on the higher difficulties.

Another feature is the General Season mode - that's a vanilla-version of career mode, but without the career and team management setup. Beyond that, there is online multiplayer, with ranked races where drivers compete for leaderboard positions. Daily and weekly challenges are also on offer, for those who relish the chance to accomplish objectives on the regular. Of course, split-screen battles are here as well for those who wish to challenge their family with a couch-battle.

Screenshot for WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship does a fantastic job of filling the rally-racing void, despite the fact that it doesn't appear to have made many leaps forward from last year's title - but sometimes, making minimal changes is still better than making wrong calls. The Career mode is as fun and immersive as expected, and that's where the bulk of the offline hours will be lost. The updated visuals and extra attention to detail makes the races feel more alive, and the heart-stopping moments of avoiding a disaster on the track are as real as ever in here. Rally fans will enjoy Kylotonn's latest offering, while newcomers can jump in with an easy-to-learn control scheme. Whether offline or online, WRC 9 packs a punch with its many hours of content that will hopefully carry through to next year's title.

Developer

Kylotonn

Publisher

Nacon

Genre

Sport

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Interesting! I've been playing some Dirt Rally 2.0 and loving it. Have you played that series? If so how does this compare?

I haven't played the Dirt Rally series (last game I played was Dirt 4) so can't help much with how this stacks up. But the dirt rallies are on point here Smilie

ringlord71 said:
I haven't played the Dirt Rally series (last game I played was Dirt 4) so can't help much with how this stacks up. But the dirt rallies are on point here Smilie

Thanks! Always loved a bit of rally gaming!

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