STAFF REVIEW of WRC 6 (Xbox One)


Saturday, March 25, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

WRC 6 Box art For many of us, we use cars as tools in our lives. From making our daily commute to work, to running errands, we as humans spend an overwhelming amount of time in our cars. For the vast majority of drivers however, that's about as far as most of us take our relationship with cars. We see them as a tool and nothing more, however, what we may be unaware of is the amount of history and influence that the World Rally Championship has brought us. It's this level of importance and excitement that Kylotonn has tried to infuse into their latest entry into the world of Rally racing with WRC 6. So let's start our engine and see if we can make it to the end in one piece.

For those that may not have played their rally games, Kylotonn is on a quest to deliver the premier Rally experience. For those who may not know what the World Rally Championship is, imagine taking a car like a Ford Focus, give it a turbocharged 300bhp power core, studded tires, a human GPS passenger and tell it to drive along this gravel pathway along the side of a mountain while reaching speeds of over 100mph, and do not crash. That's the type of racing you can expect from just one location though, and the beautiful thing about the WRC is that it travels all over the world, from dodging wild animals that may be crossing the road in Africa, to dodging solid snow drifts over 7 foot high in some of the Scandinavia rallies, everything is included.

Now each of these races is set up in stages and your primary goal is literally get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. That time is then added to your time in the next stage and that total is added to the next race after that and so on. At the end of all the stages, the driver with the lowest time wins the Rally. So your primary goal is to beat the clock, and while that may sound simplistic, once you get to try and drive your car, you'll be rapidly singing a different tune. These cars almost glide over the ground in the hand of a master. While focusing on controlled slides, sweeping drifts, and tight hairpins, the car itself almost seems to be in a state of suspended animation, however like everything in life, when you start out you're going to be incredibly horrible. This is because the play control for WRC 6 is almost its very own hybrid style.


WRC 6 is not an arcade racer by any sense of the word, yet it's not a simulation either, so what we're left with is a game that is having a bit of an identity crisis. This saddens me because you can tell that Kylotonn has gone to great lengths just to deliver on the promises to take the feedback from the previous game to heart and come back with a release that should be the WRC experience we all wanted to have. One of the biggest gripes has to be the penalty system. See, when you go to view NASCAR as a fan you're partying it up under protection, however in World Rally Championship you're literally open and exposed and can get so close to vehicles you could high five the driver as they passed by. This type of experience is exhilarating to say the least, but this excitement also comes with danger as several spectators have been killed. Now how do you think a game like WRC 6 addresses your car, going 80mph into a crowd all because you forgot to slow down and apply your handbrake to make the corner?

They give you a 12 second time penalty. Yes, everything you do in the game that could result in you off the track for any reason will get you a penalty. Go slightly off the track and hold the X button to reset the car and it's a 2 second penalty. Should you go way off, the game will automatically reset your car and you will receive a penalty of 8-10 seconds. The only realistic penalty they offer is a 30 second one for puncturing a tire. This punishment delivery system will mean that you will be restarting races many, many times over, or settle for a 7-minute stage time. You'll find this out rapidly because WRC 6 throws you way into the deep end after it asks you the small questionnaire by putting you right into a rally stage, enabling you to figure out how the cars handle and how you should really think about handling the course. Before you go though you can watch as the person in front of you takes off which allows you to see what the course is like, but with over 3 minutes of viewing the ability to memorize every turn, dip, and obstacle is almost impossible. Despite this, I cannot stress enough, you will want to watch the car because of another gripe I have, your co-driver.


Driving in WRC has a driver, but also a co-driver whom reads out directions to you as you're thundering down the path at 70mph. These directions not only tell you what gear to be in, speed to take, but also what position and line to drive and so on. If you're new to Rally then the language will seem like some form of alien code. You'll hear things like "over crest, 3 tight left, don't cut into 4 narrows, caution rocks, into 5 tight right..." and again, all while you're flying down the track at 70mph. Now while this ticker of information comes flying at you along with all the rocks and trees and everything else, you'll find times where your co-driver says absolutely nothing for a few moments. It's like he suffers from a bout of sudden narcolepsy, so while you're trying to figure out how to drive the course, you almost have to use the Force when your co-driver decides to be quiet.

Now all of this you will experience before you get done with your first introduction to WRC 6. I strongly, and I mean borderline forceful, suggest you drive that introduction rally till you become one with the car and learn how the car handles and how you must approach the courses. After that education session, it's time to open up into the game of WRC 6. You'll have options to go into your main solo campaign, multiplayer, and some time attack challenges. In the solo campaign you'll find over 60 Rally stages that cover every combination of weather, visibility and type of terrain. As a special treat, WRC 6 also sports 11 Super Special Stages which Kylotonn claims to be a laser mapped 1-1 scale replicas. And you know what? They're right. I was stunned at this so I looked up the stages to verify, and my jaw hit the floor. As you progress you'll naturally be moving up in class and in cars which is good because not only do each of them handle and perform differently, they all look quite stunning as well.


This is because the graphics of WRC 6 really have moments where they shine. It's great to have an officially licensed FIA WRC game, so now you get all the real drivers which helps deliver an added punch of realism, and speaking of adding realism, the visual effects such as dust, fog, night time headlights, combined with physical damage to your actual car to encapsulate the entire visual package into one amazing experience. This is supported by the sounds of WRC 6 as well. You'll hear your exhaust "pop" during shifting, the rev of the engine, the tires straining to hold onto every inch of grip possible and even the gravel stones kicking up under your car ring true and through your speakers to help construct a violent, yet realistic sonic journey.

All this amazing Rally experience carries over into multiplayer and all the other race gametypes, including split screen, but you will notice some degrading graphics due to the halved screen size. Now sadly I cannot comment on any external wheel and pedal control system integration so I was unable to accurately test such feedback. I will say though when the dust settles, WRC 6 strives hard to dethrone another Rally game, and even though the effort is valiant, the issues that exist, especially pertaining to the gameplay, prevent it from overtaking it. However, if we see another improvement leap like what we have seen between WRC 5 and 6, I think we can start to see Kylotonn start knocking on the door of such companies such as Turn 10. If you're looking for a solid Rally racing experience, you can't do much better than WRC 6.


Suggestions:
Tighten up the control system. Would love to see official WRC stages throughout the entire game.


Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.6 / 10

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