WRC 7: THE OFFICIAL GAME
More polish = more succ ess. Just like real rallying
By rights, hurtling down narrow roads lined with trees and dense vegetation should be automatically exciting. But sometimes, in their hunt for authenticity, rally games lose sight of what makes a videogame fun. WRC 7 doesn’t.
In some ways, it’s a throwback to the rally games of the early 2000s. It loves to splash beautiful lens flare over the camera, the controls are forgiving enough to let you recover from what would usually be a complete spin, and there’s a very slight-yet-tangible arcade feel to everything, even in simulation mode. This is not a bad thing. It means we have a licensed, authentic rally experience that’s got all the simulation elements you’d expect, like time-limited repairs, damagebased component failures and even a team morale meter that affects your mechanics’ efficiency (nice touch), while being far more accessible than the class-leading Dirt Rally.
The handling is ultra-responsive despite the 30fps frame rate, though it’s distinctly less precise than the two recent, 60fps Dirt games. The cars seem almost slotted into a line when they drive straight, and deviating from this arrow-like trajectory requires a bigger pull on the steering than you might expect. There’s a 5% deadzone on pad control by default, which exacerbates the problem, but even when that’s turned off, you still need to exaggerate your movements to
“In some ways, it’s a throwback to the rally games of the early 2000s”
get the car to turn. While it’s worst on tarmac where the grip is greatest, it’s always there to some degree, and makes for unpredictable steering. Wheely good As a result, coupled with narrow roads and the strict, automatic time penalties for mild misdemeanours like driving over a cliff or hitting spectators (sheesh), you’ll likely find yourself driving well within the capabilities of the car, just to minimise excursions into penaltyville. And since early cars in career mode tend to wallow in lowrev states, keeping the power flowing and feeling truly satisfied with a turn is rare, at least to begin with.
Rest assured, such things do improve with practice, and after a while you’ll find it’s possible to keep the revs high and attack the courses rather than tiptoe around them, at which point the game really comes alive. You’ve got to be properly daring to win – exactly how it should be.
The weather effects are wellrealised (and affect handling nicely), replays look solid and assured, and incidental details like insects playing in shafts of light in the evening are really pretty. The environments are large, dense and detailed, the frame rate’s consistency is excellent, and you’ll only occasionally notice segments being redrawn as you approach. Even so, the lighting and textures don’t look realistic enough to be truly convincing, which does affect immersion. It’s nearly there.
Indeed, ‘nearly there’ is definitely the key phrase for WRC 7. A quick compare-and-contrast exercise with Dirt Rally reveals there’s still a clear gulf in quality between the two games, but WRC is clearly an improvement over last year’s game.
If you love rallying but still want to play an in-depth, videogame version of the sport rather than an ultrahardcore simulation of it, WRC 7 will keep you very happy indeed.