WRC 9... Reviewed!

Shout out to team Nacon for rolling through with another installment of the FIA World Rally Championship and... showing us love by dropping off a few copies of WRC 9 to review! On that note... let's burn some rubber and jump right on in (skrrrrrrttttt)!

As some of you know, we suited up to hit the rugged terrain in WRC 8... and what an experience it was (rollovers, crashes, and all) so when it comes to reviewing WRC 9, I was curious to see what was new.

Before I jump into the full review, I want to point out the feedback from the controller... it feels amazing. I love the way you can tell you're off the road or rolling over the gravel... because you feel it in the controller. Not just a standard vibration or rumble, it feels really good... so I salute whoever's responsible for that. The feedback from the acceleration feels the best.

Career Mode: In career mode, you take part in the usual rallies, but... you also manage a team in this mode for the complete experience. So not only are you hitting the tracks but you are also making sure that your car gets repaired, you're hiring the right people on your team, budgeting, and more.

Speaking of team members, not all are available from the start... you have to unlock them in the skill tree area. Members consist of engineers, meteorologists, mechanics, physical therapists, agents, and financial advisors (which I recruited recently). Don't look at your team members as some sort of fluff in the skill tree... because you'd definitely be underestimating them.

For example, when it comes to the financial advisors... they deliver better offers + letting you know how the investment in those upgrades will truly translate in terms of performance. You will ultimately save money, and gain money with the help of your advisors.

Agents help you with career management, which helps you with manufacturers and... their expectations. The agents are where your offers come from, and help you level up in your career + they make an impact on publicity. Physical therapists, meteorologists, and team members like that are pretty much self-explanatory... but I wanted to point out agents and financial advisors because they may not appear to hold much significance if you aren't aware of their impact.

Anyway, when it comes to the career mode... you get a similar experience in WRC 8... minus the 3 new rallies found in WRC 9. These new rallies take place in Kenya, Japan, and New Zealand.

There is a Career Starter Upgrade DLC available that delivers a more experienced team from the start, if... you want such an upgrade. I think it's more satisfying to work your way up, but... for those who want a better team, I don't see this as a pay to win because it won't make or break your skills on the track (your performance is in your hands although you can improve certain things in the skill tree).

Visuals: WRC 9 looks great, and the team maintained the realistic look... which is easy on the eyes. Lowering the specs will rob you of realism in your trees and so forth, but for the most part... still looks pretty good. I love driving around just looking at how realistic the cars move, the rocks, and the overall physics in the sim. I noticed some areas where the shadow looked a bit off while in the showroom when the ground was wet... but that's the only time I saw that (not on the track).

By the way, the wear and tear is real... and you will not only see and hear the damage, but your car will also perform based on the damage (if the settings are more than just cosmetic).

Gameplay: In WRC 9, the goal is to top the ranks with your performance on the track.

As always you're racing against the clock whether you're attempting to make the best time, or complete a track under extreme conditions before the time runs out. What also comes in the new WRC 9 are 100 special stages and over 15 classic cars.

WRC 9 doesn't venture too far away from what made WRC 8 an awesome experience, but the team did make some slight changes to improve realism while driving. Being a simulation game, you will have some challenges starting out or going back into sim racing (if your skills went cold)... but you will get a feel for it as you continue to frequent the cockpit.

I still have yet to get a good grip on the handling, but you have to make everything work in unison to maintain a good speed and accuracy. Flooring it might seemingly decrease your time, but your control is decreased also... which could cause you to roll over while making a hairpin turn or going over the slightest bump. Even a slight turn of the wheel at top speeds can cause you to spin out and flip, so if you want the best results... go with the method that gives you the most control because you will make better time if you aren't losing time thanks to a respawn or manually getting yourself back on track.

Speaking of handling, one thing that some of you will appreciate is the... test area, this gives you the ability to test your skills and even tweak your cars handling.

The test area is different from the training mode. In training mode, you take on closed courses... whereas in the test area you're free to roam from asphalt to gravel, to dirt and back again so that your performance in the rallies isn't a result of you jumping right in.

When it comes to challenges... you get 50 that I see that consist of tracks with varying conditions, and cars that you don't choose yourself. You have to navigate the terrain in a timely fashion with what you're given or place the best time to get bronze, silver, or gold.

As far as multiplayer action goes, you can take on other players in online events + leaderboards, and split-screen action as seen in previous WRC installments. Split-screen is a plus if you lack a solid internet connection.

When it comes to the clubs, you can either join one of the available clubs or start your own and they can either require registration or be open to everyone. If you're unsure of what club to join, you don't have to worry about being stuck in just one... you can join up to 3 clubs + start your own.

In season mode, you take part in rallies without crew management. At times you just want to race and be a part of rallies... so you have the option of choosing either. You will see 3 save slots in career mode, but don't get these confused with the season mode's 3 save slots... one will not overwrite the other. I think it was smart to deliver a simpler mode because some gamers don't jump in that deep.

I have not played this game with a steering wheel yet, but it's an experience I'm looking to dive into.

One thing I'd like to see (even though I know it's a licensed game targeting the real experience) is a combination of tracks created by the dev team that are totally made up.

Price: WRC 9 comes in at $49.99, which is a price from the PS2 era for a next-gen game... no arguments from me. Overall, WRC 9 delivers solid gameplay... and the replay value is intact by way of improving your skills, achieve badges, unlocking skills, and taking on the competition... in one of the best rally games I've ever played.

Career Mode 4

Visuals 5

Gameplay 5

Price 5

4.75 out of 5 Cool Points