WRC 7 Review (PS4)
It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and whether that is true is a matter of opinion. What is true however, it that imitation is very helpful when playing simulation driving games. Knowing the controls and interfaces without spending too much time in the game makes the experience all the better and realistic. It also means that hardcore racing fans can dive straight into the game and use the same settings and preferences they use in other games. It seems this is a sentiment shared by Kylotonn, the developers of WRC 7.
WRC 7 is Kylotonn’s third iteration of the WRC games since picking up the licence in 2015 which was previously held by Milestone. There is definitely something familiar when you first start up WRC 7. The game’s first task is to ascertain your skill level by asking you whether you have played rally games before and if so, what your preferred style is (arcade or simulation). There is also the driving test which in this case is a simple rally stage after which the game suggests a style and difficulty level for you. These are concepts that first started showing up in Codemasters’ Colin McRae Dirt and polished up in this year’s Dirt 4. WRC 7 uses this system really well and makes getting into this iteration of the game a pleasure.
As with all the WRC games, the main focus of WRC 7 is the career mode. Players start by selecting a character and appearance and then signing a contract with one of a choice of teams. The difficulty curve in WRC 7 works really well. Your first career season starts in the junior WRC and lasts 6 events. This championship is used to ease you into the game with a drive that is challenging but not brutal. After this championship the setup options are unlocked and you can proceed to tinker with the car setup until your heart’s content. It is possible to play through the career with the standard setup without being penalised which is always a good thing.
The whole career mode is a very enjoyable and rewarding experience with some neat touches. Your background team’s performance changes depending on your performance in races and how closely you follow the team objectives. Should the team’s directive to be to look after the car and you continually wreck it (even if you finish high up in the ranks), then moral will drop and the team’s performance in the repair section of the stage will not be optimal. Like any of the decent rally sims, WRC 7 is taxing to play. The stages have been designed well enough so that navigating through them with minimal damage to the car feels like a major achievement. It can be physically exhausting playing through a complete rally and finishing well. It is what we look for in sim racing games and WRC 7 walks the line between challenging and frustrating like a pro.
As this is the official WRC game, there is no content apart from the official rallies, drivers and teams available. There is however an interesting mode where you can create your own event and play through it. Think of it as a playlist where you can arrange your favourite rallies or stages in any order you please. It’s a cleaver little add for those who do not want to play a full career but at the same time would like more than a quick race mode.
On the multiplayer side, there is the hot seat mode for local multiplayer, as well as online multiplayer where you can create lobbies and start a game or join an existing game. Unfortunately, we could not get any mode of the multiplayer to work after several attempts. Rather than server issues, it seems that nobody was playing online. Quite frankly, this is what we expect from rally simulation games as it’s not really a game we’ve ever played online with friends.
Graphically, WRC 7 looks really good. In fact, it gives its competitors a good run for their money. The environments are some of the best I have seen in a WRC game, particularly the dusty Spanish stages. Long gone are the days where the landscape consisted of the same bush replicated over and over. The environment seems to carry on into the distance for miles and feels like there should be an extra mode that would let you drive off the official tracks and go exploring. And although WRC 7 may not have as many in-car views as some, they are very good. The over the bonnet view in particular has a reflect effect that beats all of the views of this type I have seen this year.
In terms of a WRC rally game, WRC 7 is excellent, but it is now that time of the review that I have been trying to avoid – the direct comparison with Dirt 4. When it comes to gameplay, graphics, presentation and style WRC 7 holds its own with Codemasters’ behemoth. Both are fantastic games and our choice for racing game of the year will be a difficult one. Where WRC 7 loses out for this reviewer though, is on the variety of game modes and vehicles. Ultimately though, WRC 7 is a licensed game and penalising it for lack of non-licensed content would be like complaining about FIFA 18’s lack of cage fighting.
WRC 7 is the best iteration of the WRC games this reviewer has played. As previously mentioned, it stands toe to toe with its peers and will not look out of place on the shelf of this year’s top racers.
8 hard lefts (don’t cut) out of 10