The World Rally Championship series has always been one of the most popular rally games around (alongside Colin McRae Rally and Dirt) and Bigben Games has done their best to make this off road racer as challenging and realistic as possible.
If you’ve lost touch with rally sims and racers over the last couple of years, it might take you a little while to get back into it. Right from the start WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship sends you a tutorial – and don’t take this lightly. WRC 6 is a tricky and challenging game, and as the tutorial’s co driver doesn’t give you any direction until half way through the stage, we were stumped for a little while. In fact, one of the first achievements we were awarded was for rolling the car! In true simulator fashion, you have to deal with car breakdowns including tire punctures; part of the tutorial shows you how to fix a puncture, which also puts you 30 seconds back in the stage!
It only takes little while to realise the tutorial wasn’t a one-off – you’ll soon come to understand how challenging this game is. The stages are narrower, the difference in grip and handling between the various surfaces has been widened, and each rally has its own identity and driving style requirements, and pitfalls await you around almost every corner. Beware, if you have to respawn your car it will put you in debt with your time; auto respawn puts you down 10 seconds on your timer, every time you add a manual respawn it adds 5 seconds onto your time. This is a game that rewards precision and punishes inaccuracy.
You must listen to what your co driver is telling you; if he says don’t cut, don’t cut. There are a lot of hazards and obstacles that can cause a lot of damage to your car, things like ambulances, trees, hay barriers, walls, rocks and even cliff edges dealt us serious damage. You name it, we hit it. Repeatedly. Many times we rolled our car off the edge of a steep hill, incurring an auto respawn which caused a huge increase on our stage time.
Depending on which difficulty you prefer, throwing your car about and driving recklessly can cause a lot of mechanical damage as well as cosmetic. Even if you drive without hitting walls, you can still cause damage just by how you take jumps and ditches in the road. Remember, after the stage you have to repair your vehicle, and if you take longer than accumulated 45 minutes to repair it will add time to your stage time and can affect your position on the leaderboard. If you suffer a blowout then you get the opportunity to change the tire mid-stage, but doing so means you lose time.
The days of short stages are gone, too – there are no Sega Rally-style sprints here. In WRC 6 you have to endure the realistic super stages and long range challenges of the accurately re created real-life stages.
As WRC 6 bears the official FIA World Rally Championship licence, you’ll get the three major classes – JuniorWRC, WRC2 and the daddy, WRC. As in real life, the game offers combined classifications at the end of each race and while this touch might go unnoticed by most, its absence would be glaring to rally fans.
WRC 6 offers a straightforward career mode, but with an interesting twist that stems from the unique challenge in rallying of balancing all out speed with vehicle damage. This means that you can pick a team that’s happy with your driving style – win at all costs for the smash ’em, bash ’em driver, or if you’re more circumspect you’ll be appreciated more in a team that would prefer not to have to visit the panel beater after every stage. Personally, we chose the easier option! Hey – if you don’t like dealing with dents, don’t run a rally team!
The campaign starts out easy, giving you the time to get used to the game, the tracks and some of the smaller, slower vehicles. As you progress through the career you get the opportunity to use the faster more powerful vehicles. If you want to jump straight into the more powerful cars, then all you have to do is set up a custom stage on any track you want with any car. All 14 rounds of the 2016 WRC season are reproduced, including China, and the official licence also brings the big name stars and their likenesses to the game.
It is often said that on a race track, it’s the car that makes all the difference but in a rally, it’s the driver. Get your apex wrong on the track and you’ll lose a couple of seconds, get it wrong on a rally stage and you’ll lose minutes – or be out for good. WRC 6 does a decent effort of translating that completely different challenge to a video game. There’s no doubt that this is the best official WRC game to date. It has a robust career mode and racing in the same cars – liveries intact – that you see in the real stages always adds a thrill. It might not offer quite the same high speed thrills as Codemasters’ Dirt Rally, or offer the same broad car selection, but there’s plenty here for the rally fan to get excited about.
This game will take time to master, even if you are a seasoned rally veteran, the rally fans asked for a challenge. Well, you got one.
WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship is available from the Store, priced £49.99.
This is the best officially licensed WRC game in years, with plenty to offer the rally fan.
There’s no doubt that Rally fans will get a kick out of WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship – particularly the elements that only the official licence can bring. It’s that authenticity that might be the deciding factor if you can only pick one rally game. If you’re less of a fan of the details and are just looking for rally enjoyment, you might find that Codemasters’ Dirt Rally offers the superior driving experience, though WRC 6 offers the more robust and interesting career mode.