French video game developer Kylotonn has done an impressive job as of late of earning the respect of both the racing community and peers alike. The world of simulation-style racing requires consistency and quality, and with series like Isle of Man, WRC and V-Rally, the developers there have proven they understand the world they are residing in while building upon the positives, and improving in the areas where they have struggled. The question now with the release of WRC 9 is does the current upward trend continue? I was relatively bullish on the game in my preview, so let’s find out how things turned out in the end in this WRC 9 review.
WRC 9 Review – What I Like
Vehicle control in a game like WRC 9 is monumental to the enjoyment of the game, and thankfully Kylotonn has delivered a system that feels as good as any out there in the rally racing space. The controls out of the box feel on-point as the precision and weight of the car creates a realistic feeling, regardless of the course’s terrain. Obviously, that feeling can be subjective depending on the user’s approach to the title, so the game offers up the ability to tweak the feel in a way that you see fit.
Not only is the control system well done, the environments and terrain that you as a driver will traverse over feel incredibly well done. Gravel feels unstable, snow feels icy and slippery, water and mud will bog your vehicle down, and concrete and dirt feel just as they should from our real-life experiences.
It’s easy to say “well this is how it should be” and you would be correct in saying so, but the amount of work, effort and testing that goes into creating a system as good as what WRC 9 delivers is massive and needs to be recognized.
The career mode in WRC 9 is as deep and involved as any career mode in any game. I would go so far as to say the only title that rivals it would be that of the Codemasters’ F1 series.
The game asked me to create my driver and gave me the opportunity to start in the WRC, or prove myself in the WRC-2, and work my way up to the WRC. The only caveat is that if people choose to start in the WRC, they are required to show their skill in a series of on-track testing before signing with a team.
I chose to start in the WRC-2 because I struggle not to crash coming out the gate in many cases, and it seemed like the prudent choice. Regardless of choice though, career mode is so much more than jumping behind the wheel in search of an event win and a series championship.
I was required to amass a team that consisted of a mechanic, an agent, a meteorologist and more. In total, a team of six is the goal, and all six employees will range in skill level, depending on what you can afford. There is also a research and development team that needs to be hired and funded, and I was tasked with working with them to upgrade my rally car and much more.
The career mode in WRC 9 does an excellent job of projecting an overall idea of involvement, and creating an atmosphere of teamwork and decision making. Not all choices are monumental and will have a large impact on your day-to-day routine, but it all adds up to a high level of importance when you factor in your desire for team growth and success over the course of your career.
WRC 9 Is Gorgeous
Playing on PC through Epic Games, WRC 9 looks amazing and many times, photo-realistic. The environments are lush, colorful and alive, which pulled me in even further into the world of rally racing. The level of detail and re-creation speaks amazingly well to the efforts put in by the development team, especially during a time of lockdowns and working remotely.
At times I found it difficult to remain focused on the course ahead as I often found myself gazing at the environments. The snow-covered terrain felt cold and brutal, while the lush mountainous regions felt alive and with a hint of dangerous unknown.
The vehicles within the game look just as good as the environments do, and the damage model that Kylotonn employs adds an even more immersive feeling.
WRC 9 Review – What I Don’t Like
Rally racing is a difficult sport and very few would argue that point. WRC 9 does a good job of re-creating the tension-filled environment, but the difficulty at times can feel overwhelming and counterproductive.
Kylotonn has done an amazing job of dropping you behind the wheel and asking you to navigate some of the world’s most treacherous courses, but by doing so, it also requires a laser-like focus and ability to see multiple steps ahead for the entire time you’re behind the wheel.
With the new options, the WRC series is more accessible now than it has ever been, but it still required me to block out the real world around me and mentally submerge myself into the digital world the developers had created to ascertain the level of success I was hoping for.
This isn’t an attempt to dissuade anyone from adding WRC 9 to his or her rotation because it is an amazing journey into the licensed world of rally racing. It is simply me informing others what is needed or required to fully enjoy the experience that Kylotonn delivered here.
Rarely have I reviewed a game that delivered on almost every front, but that is exactly what WRC 9 has done. It allows me to feel the pressure and tension of knowing that even the smallest mistake behind the wheel can ruin an event. I sometimes felt like I was going to grasp the overwhelming joy of accomplishment before it was replaced with devastation and doubt.
It is true, rally racing isn’t for everyone, but playing a title that delivers such an authentic experience should resonate with those who have even the smallest of interest in the sport. WRC 9: World Rally Championship is a title that I hope finds its way into the rotation of the masses as Kylotonn has delivered an exceptionally deep and organic experience.
Some will say that there isn’t a whole lot new to experience in WRC 9 compared to its predecessor, and that may be true in some ways. For me though, that is a testament as to the overall state of the series.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Microsoft Windows