There is nothing purer than putting yourself up against the clock. One-on-one, you against time, hoping to prevail against all odds. It’s what humankind has been doing for years, watching the hours, minutes and seconds tick by.
It’s this which sets the rallying scene apart from nearly all other types of motorsport and whilst competitors still find themselves hoping to come out on top of their foes, it’s the clock which is the real star.
Step forward the World Rally Championship, the WRC; the place where the finest clockstoppers ply their trade. It’s here where we’ve found some of the most intense racing in recent years, with drivers risking damage to their vehicles – and to themselves and their co-drivers – as they attempt to stop the clock. Flat.
It’s this scene that translates brilliantly to the gaming world, and rally titles could well be seen as the forebearers to the speedrunning antics which have come to light in recent years. And there have been a ton of them too, with the DiRT Rally and WRC options left vying for the money of players most recently. It’s with the latter that we find Nacon and KT Racing combining all their skills to create WRC 10; a game which has the potential to become the genre leader. It very nearly does too.
There’s a lot going on in WRC 10. In fact, it could be said that Nacon and KT Racing have put too much into the mix, bringing out the big guns to ensure WRC 10 covers every base imaginable. That’s obviously great for fans of the sport, yet there’s plenty enough to even drag in those with a passing interest. But in turn, the depth included does mean some bits come across as confusing.
In terms of what you can involve yourself in and there’s a host. There are daily, weekly and – when Nacon can be bothered to switch them on – special challenges to keep you going back for more on a regular basis. There are further offline challenges which will see you embarking on new training sessions, extreme weather events in which you’ll need to drive a set distance with a massively damaged car, and maintenance events which basically work the same but come with less of a stress on the senses. There are 50 odd of these challenges alone, all with gold, silver and bronze medals to be earnt depending on how well you accomplish each feat. Honestly, I’d have been more than happy with WRC 10 offering just a whole platter of these up and letting us get on with it.
But there’s plenty more too – a test area for skill improvement and car set-up adjustments, multiple training sessions around a variety of closed circuits, in pretty much any car you could wish for. This means should you want to just jump behind the wheel of some of WRC 10’s historic, iconic and legendary vehicles like the Lancia Stratos or Audio Quattro, this lets you do so. But then the Quick Play and Season modes also allow similar opportunities, just letting you concentrate on the driving tasks at hand. Oh, and there’s a livery editor for those who prefer to let their imagination and creative juices flow.
Most of these are pretty self explanatory options and all work well, but it’s the Career which is able to handle the bulk of what WRC 10 holds. It’s hugely deep, as complex as you could wish for, and will keep you going for many an hour, all as skills are honed, teams are built and you get to prove yourself as a real star of the show. It’s here where you’ll work your way through a calendar of events, picking and choosing which to partake in as each week passes. Some will have you rallying in one-off events, involving yourself in manufacturer tryouts, whilst other multi-stage rallies epitomise exactly what the sport is all about. Choosing tyres, adjusting your car set-up and doing whatever needs to be done in order for success to be found is utterly key.
But the Career also has you building the team outside of what happens in the car. R&D structured trees are key to pushing the experience forward, growing a team of personnel as you build out a support crew is critical and even delving deep into your emails – if only to pay the bills for the damage and repairs needed for your cars – is part of the process. And yes, occasionally you’ll need to forgo getting behind the wheel to take a bit of a rest week, bringing up the morale of your entire team and saving a bit of cash on those repairs in the process.
For those familiar with the ins and outs of motorsport, a field day will be had, as every little adjustment and change can have a huge part in how your overall experience plays out. And whilst going deep to the nth degree in the career could be the difference between success and failure, if you can’t be bothered with all that rubbish, WRC 10 happily lets you just choose some tyres, jump in a car and get on with it. Honestly, it’s about as detailed as you could ever wish for a racing career to be, and even though that may put some off – with those preferring to kick back with the Season mode instead – praise has to go out to what has been created.
Whichever of these options you take, WRC 10 plays brilliantly. Tracks are tight, twisted, varied and a real test of your driving skills, no more so when you come off the asphalt and take to some snowy climes, enjoy the madness of a bit of night racing or go stormchasing. Don’t think that because you’ve nailed top spot in Greece, New Zealand or Italy, that you’ll automatically he doing the same in the Swedish, Finnish or Welsh rallies; each and every one plays differently, requiring a different set of racing skills and needs. Due to this, WRC 10 rarely ever gets near anything tiresome or boring, mostly due to the variety and the short, sharp, massively intense nature every event delivers.
There are an absolute ton of cars included too. We’ve got the standard everyday WRC beasts of the modern era, those of WRC2 and WRC3, Junior WRC and others for the real anoraks out there. But thanks to Nacon and KT Racing playing on the 50th anniversary of the sport, a host of other, older, more iconic machines are here too. In fact, they’ve picked out some real stars for inclusion too, so if that is what you are after, you won’t be left wanting.
And then there are the multiplayer options that WRC 10 comes with. But it’s here where disappointment lies. Let me just put this out there now, unless you’ve got a mate who is happy to sit alongside you for split-screen purposes, or will stump up the cash for their own copy of WRC 10 in order to compete online, you’re going to be left wanting. You see, online options are in place – clubs, online multiplayer, co-driver and leaderboards – but the community is sparse, the servers dodgy at best, and being able to join an online race is nigh impossible. Of course, setting up your own online presence is doable, but after multiple attempts at doing so across days post launch, the community is apparently near non-existent. If you do get lucky though, WRC 10 plays just as well as it does offline, all with the added tension of seeing yourself up against online ghosts. It’s just you’re going to need to rely on all the luck in the world in order for it to be worthwhile.
Perhaps WRC 10 doesn’t really need that online side of things though, and going back to my opening remarks there’s absolutely plenty to involve yourself in offline.
However, the real issues with WRC 10 mostly arise away from the racing. And whilst any kind of problem is not something we wish to see, if you’re going to have a racing title that only really annoys away from the event, you’re going to take it.
You see, for all the content in WRC 10, navigating through it can be a right source of frustration. Menus are clunky, sometimes utilising an arrow pointer, whilst over times not, and switching between game modes is cumbersome; no more so than when enjoying the 50th anniversary events. It just all seems to lack polish.
Further, the career is chock full of options which have you delving in and out of sub menus, then further segments in each of those. When all you want to do is race the clock, moving in, out, up, down, left and right through options isn’t particularly desired.
This gets worse when you’re greeted by loading screens aplenty – even on Series X – and whilst these aren’t ever stupidly long – just five seconds or so at most – the sheer number of them just slows everything down even more.
It’s not absolutely perfect when behind the wheel either, and even though 99% of the racing action is super solid, should you dare to even put a rotating wheel within a metre of the poorly stylised crowd found at the edge of the track, you’ll be swiftly auto reset and given a penalty; ruining any time and negating any event you are in. At other times you can head miles off track before the game even considers plonking you back on the hard stuff.
Aside from those problems though, and the fact that Nacon continue to separate old and new generations of the game – perhaps if they didn’t do this, their online servers would be much more populated – the vast majority of WRC 10 is quality.
And again, for the most part it looks and sounds the part too. Visually cars are on point (not Forza quality, but they are absolutely fine), from the modern day WRC machines to those which have been integrated via the 50th anniversary gig. There are multiple camera angles to view these from too, and whilst that should please most gamers, it’ll be the cockpit or bumper view you want most. You see – and I won’t have anyone telling me otherwise – to find success in any racer, it’s these you need; plus manual shifting to eek out the milliseconds.
Stages are varied and graphically good too. From Monte Carlo to Croatia, to Portugal, Kenya, Chile and Wales, no matter where you are throwing your car, the scenery is pretty intense. Not that you’ll have a chance to view much of it mind as this is one of those ‘don’t blink’ games, requiring full concentration with the matter at hand, as you try in vain to nail apexes and intently listen in on your co-driver and their instructions. Because of this we can give Nacon and KT Racing a pass on the poor spectator models and copy and paste job in terms of characters. This is a racing game after all…
The audio alongside those ‘right 5, left 4, sharp hairpin right, keep in’ calls is absolutely fine too. Roars of engines, squeals of tyres as they look for traction, and the crunch as you smash into another tree or barrier all help immersion. There’s a neat bit of voiceover outside of the racing as you are helpfully guided through your career too, and whilst this is skippable, it makes sense to take it in so you can get a feel for each and every section.
But WRC 10 is, and should be, all about racing against the clock. And in that regard this is as detailed as you can get with pretty much everything a rally fan could want, all included from the get-go. Hell, there’s even enough to ensure non-petrolheads take a little look at this immersive rally sim. Dodgy menu system and an online community which is lacking numbers aside, should you be after a deep, highly detailed rally racer, WRC 10 is going to cover everything you want and need… and then some.
You can pick up WRC 10 from the Xbox Store right now