AN UPHILL STRUGGLE
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.