XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Sam wHITE

Any other year, this ral­ly­ing ef­fort would’ve coasted idly by. The best of a dy­ing breed, it cap­tures the adren­a­line of the sport, with its bil­low­ing dust plumes, ice-packed hair­pins, sturdy roll cages and break­neck speed, while im­prov­ing on its lack­lus­tre pre­de­ces­sor. But 2016 be­comes DiRT Rally’s year.

WRC 6 is a supreme ex­pe­ri­ence when it comes to con­tent, and bests Code­mas­ters’ lat­est ef­fort with an en­tire ros­ter of of­fi­cial teams, driv­ers and cour­ses that make up the World Rally Cham­pi­onship. It fea­tures all 14 of­fi­cial host coun­tries, from the tar­ma­ced cliff­sides of China to the wind­ing moun­tain tun­nels of Monte Carlo, all the way through to the dusty tracks of Ar­gentina and wind­ing maze of Swe­den’s icy alpines.

Un­der the weather

Each stage has its chal­lenges, from the nar­row­ness of a course to the dif­fer­ent rac­ing sur­faces, and there’s noth­ing quite like pelt­ing down a rain-drenched Welsh road un­der cover of dark­ness with only your head­lamps to guide the way. For a rally fan, it’s an ab­so­lute joy to be able to go all over the world and race in all these em­blem­atic lo­ca­tions... but WRC 6’ s pre­sen­ta­tion damp­ens this glee.

With an abun­dance of jaggy edges, flat tex­tures, an un­sta­ble fram­er­ate and unim­pres­sive light­ing, the en­tire thing feels a bit mucky. Cer­tain weather ef­fects are pass­able but fog looks like a bad In­sta­gram fil­ter. As such, the lo­ca­tions you churn up don’t feel like the hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions that they should – WRC 6 fails to in­stil a sense of petrol-tinged wan­der­lust.

The au­dio is also in­con­sis­tent. The ex­haust pops and en­gine grunts sound great, with a lovely splut­ter that varies from car to car, but your co-driver – who barks tips at you as you whizz around each course – is re­ally one-note. All of his lines sound like a copy-and-paste job and there’s no sense he’s ac­tu­ally in the car guid­ing you to the fin­ish line. You’ll grow tired of the same way he says, “Brake!” af­ter about two races.

It’s a shame be­cause the rac­ing is strong, with a han­dling model that suc­cess­fully con­veys the speed and volatil­ity of a rally car, while also giv­ing play­ers the abil­ity to cus­tomise the chal­lenge to their lik­ing. Play it on its de­fault set­tings and this is a tough game, with al­most no room for mis­takes. Make a brak­ing er­ror and you’re al­most cer­tainly go­ing to run into a tree or bar­rier; mis­judge the cam­ber of a turn and you’ll roll right off the other side of it, cost­ing you up to a minute in added time.

All this com­pe­ti­tion is spread across a solid num­ber of modes, from solo play with Ca­reer, Cus­tom Cham­pi­onship and your pick of sin­gle races, to on­line play. We couldn’t ac­cess the mul­ti­player at the time of re­view, but one of its coolest fea­tures is its timed chal­lenges, which have spe­cific objectives and pit you against an on­line leaderboar­d.

It’s in its core chal­lenge that WRC 6 thrives, and its litany of of­fi­cial liv­er­ies cre­ate an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence that any off-road fan will love. But its pre­sen­ta­tion is just not up to the stan­dard we’ve come to ex­pect from fel­low rac­ers like DiRT Rally or Forza Hori­zon 3, and it re­sults in a game which feels more like a mid-ta­ble chal­lenger than a top-spot cham­pi­onship con­tender.

“With jaggy edges and flat tex­tures, the en­tire thing feels a bit mucky”

right De­vel­oper Ky­lo­tonn nails the feel­ing of slid­ing in the dust and dirt.

Be­low The game is most daunt­ing at night, when you can see only a few me­tres ahead of you.

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