WRC 7 is Kylotonn Racing Games’ third attempt at making a rally simulation game that can compete with other high-quality rally games like Dirt 4. While their previous WRC titles weren’t exactly that great or even memorable, WRC 7 might be the one that turns things around for the French developer.
Simulation is priority
When first booting up the game you’re immediately thrown in a short rally race that explains to you the basic controls and UI. This ‘tutorial’ also acts as a test course that determines your skill level, which you can change at any time if the game’s too hard or too easy for you. While this first course is pretty hard for newcomers to the series like me, it does make it clear that the focus of WRC 7 lies in simulating a real-life rally. Instead of going full-speed and drifting the corners like a madman, you actually have to focus on everything that you do, since the slightest mistake makes the difference between finishing first and crashing your car. I noticed that after the first few curves, I started paying attention to my co-pilot’s cues so I could prepare myself easier for upcoming obstacles. Another thing I was impressed by was the noticeable differences in surfaces to drive on. Most other racing games only change the handling of your car when you’re driving on wet tarmac or sand. WRC 7, on the other hand, changes the handling on every different kind of surface. Driving on ice is not the same as driving on wet tarmac, snow or sand. For every kind of surface and weather condition, you need to adjust your driving maneuvers, which is something not a lot of rally games succeed in doing.
WRC 7 also offers a fair amount of well-designed courses. Most of them can be easily distinguished from each other and are easy to remember. The obstacles and corners are well-placed and never feel like there’s too much or not enough space between them. Even the ‘Epic Stages’, which are extra long tracks that can take more than 10 minutes to complete, are a joy to drive through. The scenery also helps in making every course look unique, although the graphical quality of objects outside the tracks is pretty mediocre. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks great in motion, but when you’re standing still you quickly notice that most of the work on the visuals went to the cars. Other racing games do the same thing, but a little more polish on the scenery would have been nice.
Like any other racing game, WRC 7 offers a few game modes. The most obvious one is the career mode, which is sadly a little underwhelming. You start as a junior driver and have to work up your reputation by performing well enough at championships and tournaments. That’s all there is to it. Compare this to other racing games that offer cutscenes or extra solo challenges and it comes out as a shallow experience. On the bright side, WRC7 is filled with actual FIA-certified championships that easily beats out made-up tournaments that the competition offers.
There’s also ‘quick game’ that, as you already expect, lets you set up a specific rally to complete. You can do this solo, online AND local by playing split-screen with your friends or by passing around the controller. Other than these modes there’s nothing else to play and makes the game suffer in terms of replayability. The online multiplayer does come with weekly challenges. These are courses in which you compete with others to complete it the fastest. Sounds standard, but the challenge is in getting the shortest time in the least amount of tries possible. Finishing first on your first attempt will reward you with the most points. If you need five attempts to get the best time, you will be rewarded with fewer points. These challenges do help in making the multiplayer a little more interesting, but I would have preferred if it used Dirt’s system, where you get only one attempt. That way, you are more focused on getting the best time from the start.
Mixed sound design
The sounds in WRC 7 are hit or miss. The weather effects sound great, especially when gravel or rain hits your windscreen. The sound effects when you damage your car is also well-designed. Sadly, most of the other sounds are lackluster and don’t offer the immersive experience that Dirt or Need For Speed offer. Revving up your engine always sounds disappointing and doesn’t have the oomph you want to hear out of professional rally cars. There are also no separate sound effects for your car that most other games have, like when you hit your suspension too hard or when you slightly push down the brake pedal. This may sound nitpicky but for a simulation of a real-life rally, immersive sound design is important.
WRC 7 is a big improvement over its previous entry, especially when you compare the driving physics and handling. Driving a rally car in this game feels like the real deal and requires your full attention, unlike other racing games.The graphics and sounds could have been better, but most disappointingly is the lack of game modes. If there’s going to be WRC 8 and it keeps up the level of improvement, then it might become a worthy entry in the racing genre.