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Friday, 13 October 2017 08:00

Game Review: WRC 7 – Dirty, white-knuckle fun

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Time to get sideways in the dirt again, time to clench the steering wheel and be as bold as possible tackling some very tight courses with only your skill and co-driver trust to reel in a great time. It’s time for the World Rally Championship.

WRC 7 is certainly a step up from last year’s game. We enjoyed that game and all its features and options but there was certainly one criticism: “Graphically, WRC 6 is not the most spectacular driving game on the market and the presentation is generally slightly bland and inert, but there is plenty to look at, with static road-side obstacles dominating the tight tracks and dust-devils at times obscuring the road ahead.”

This time around this has been addressed, and we can safely say that the visuals in WRC 7 are certainly improved, and very much on par with immediate competitor DiRT 4 with a myriad course-side objects as well as the occasional broken down competitor if you are lucky.  Along with the audio, the look of WRC 7 really makes you feel like you are amongst the action.

There are some other subtler improvements this year: new official cars from Ford, Hyundai, Toyota and Citroen in various teams with a total of 55 different crews across the game's different modes.

Thirteen different rallies from around the world are featured, with more than 60 special stages including 13 new Epic Stages that will test your endurance and concentration. Each Epic Stage is over 15 minutes long.

Weekly challenges are very interesting. They are a great way to test your mettle against the rest of the WRC simulation community around the world, a big part of which will be just how well you can set up the car for the stage.

There is no Rallycross in this game — such a big focus of DiRT 4 — but the special stages are fun and include some stadium events that can be nailbiting in how close the results can be.

Camera control is very important in games such as these, and it is often the case in a rally game that a chase camera is the most optimal. In WRC 7, you do have camera options from in the cockpit, across the hood and so on. However the third person chase point of view deserves special mention as it cleverly maintains a view of the road ahead despite the orientation of the wheels and car. It is really smart and natural, feeling well aligned to the way you want to drive.

The variety of stages is fantastic, lots of differing surfaces that provide drive challenges and pressure on car set-up to cater for the road ahead and the mix of gravel, snow, dirt or tarmac that it may have. 

We loved the liberal allowance for spending time off the main road; so many other games would reset the car back on the track with a time penalty far earlier than WRC 7 does. And when it does do this, it is pretty sensible about it, allowing some shortcuts to be taken if you happen to go bush.  And oh! Whatever you do, definitely try to avoid those stupid spectators as they encroach near the track; quite rightly the game penalises a driver heading towards people. 

Damage modelling is the next focus of the development team for future releases. It still does not feel accurate, as these cars can take a hell of a beating. We guess that is a bit of a concession to video game-play, but it would be nice if there was a more realistic way to manage the damage. It does not mar the experience too much, and performance is altered drastically if damage is not seen to between stages.

This game features a split screen couch multiplayer option as well as an overhauled career mode with all of the interaction you could hope for.

Rally simulations are a great way to try an alternative “racing games”, WRC 6 had some wonderful merit, and more recently DiRT 4 gave a variety of modes and options, but for a focused way to enjoy the World Rally Championship, WRC 7 is hard to overlook.

 @mbantick 


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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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