Dedicated rally games left the spotlight when
longtime supporter Codemasters integrated the discipline into its Dirt series.
However, WRC is an officially licensed property on its fifth iteration,
featuring good ol' point-to-point rally racing minus the offroad, gymkhana, and
rally cross dressings of the Dirt franchise. WRC 5 may feature pure rally
racing, but its singular focus does not produce exemplary results.
One of the things that initially intrigued me
was the inclusion of contracts with different race teams in the career mode.
While these teams have different stats such as mentality, confidence, and
efficiency, I didn't find a big difference between the teams that valued speed
versus bringing the car home largely undamaged, for example. I took a contract
with the latter for a season, and found they were happy as long as I was
posting good results regardless of how much they had to keep fixing my car
between days. At the end of each season you can take on a new contract as you
climb the ranks of three racing tiers (J-WRC, WRC-2, and WRC), but ultimately
the contracts offer little impetus to spur you forward.
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This unremarkable approach ripples throughout
the game. WRC 5's main features don't deviate from basic expectations; it has a
rally school tutorial section, online ghosts of player times to race against,
developer-created online challenge times, and the option to rewind to the
beginning of a stage section if you mess up your run.
WRC 5 also fails to distinguish itself behind
the wheel. For me, rally racing is about holding my breath while hurtling down
too-narrow roads and living life one corner at a time. The courses feature some
dangerous situations, such as jagged rocks waiting to shred the side of your
car, chicane barriers in the middle of roads, and plenty of corners you don't
want to cut, but either because the sense of speed isn't overwhelming or
because the cars feel a little too deliberate in their control, I didn't get
that rush I usually do in a rally title.
I'll give developer Kylotonn Games credit: As
much as I think the cars (particularly the ones in the first two tiers) feel a
little stiff, the game doesn't artificially help you into your slides or rely
overly on the handbrake. I often liked riding the brake and throttle
simultaneously into turns to get around them.
A rally game focused solely on the sport is a rare thing, and it's an
opportunity to dive into this type of racing and concentrate on what makes it
special. While WRC 5 offers a decent experience, it lacks bite or any
This review pertains to the PlayStation 4 version. It also appears on Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Vita, and PC.