With so many driving games available it is often hard to differentiate each and make one stand out from the crowded market. Making things even harder to stand out is the quality of these titles that are available. WRC 6 was a fun entry, that looked good but suffered from a few limitations. WRC 7 has arrived; can it push the series into more competitive terrain or are the alternatives still leading the way?
WRC 7 is the only official World Rally Championship game available, following the race and teams on offer in 2017. It sticks to the traditional car simulation controls with analogue steering, R2 acceleration, L2 braking and the circle button for handbrake. You are also able to change views and drive a manual (R1, L1 for gear changes).
Where the game differs to most driving games is the ability to have the difficulty and handling set for you by the games artificial intelligence. This was a great feature of WRC 6 and thankfully returns. The only issue with this is that it is accomplished via a test in which you navigate a track to the best of your ability, in a top-class car. Using a top-class vehicle, huge horse powered rally car is vastly different from using the entry level cars available for the start of a career run. You go from having the ability to navigate corners with sheer acceleration and power sliding to driving a car that struggles to get wheel spin. The result was my difficulty level being set quite high and my skills in the powerless vehicles being lacklustre at best.
The usual racing modes are available, Career takes you on a journey through the ranks against real world rally drivers and teams. There is also a quick game option that lets you drive in any rally with any team, Custom Championship which allows you to arrange your own season and Driving Test as earlier explained, rounds out the solo player options. Most of your time will likely be spent in the games Career mode.
The cars themselves handle quite well. It does take a while to get used to the lower grade vehicles though, turning can be a battle and the handbrake is used frequently. The higher-powered cars however are quite joyous to drive. Rally driving requires precise cornering and great brake/accelerator control, when done correctly power sliding through tight chicanes is an exhilarating experience.
The co-driver or navigator if you prefer, is your eyes and you will rely on what he says to become successful. Detailing what is in front of you and letting you know what will be required ahead of time. If you still fail and end up in bad situation there is the option to place your car back on track. This is handy but does come with a 9 second penalty so use it sparingly.
WRC 7 is a nice-looking game. The cars all look great as does the tracks and environments. There was no screen tearing or frame rate drop that I witnessed. The menus are a little bland and boring but in action the game holds up very well graphically. Likewise, the sound is great, the throaty sounds of the cars are fantastic. Thankfully your co-driver, who you hear constantly sounds lifelike and not robotic. I would still have appreciated a curse or stressful yell when you made a slip up.
The multi-player section of the game caters for both online and local modes. Challenge mode sees a weekly challenge introduced were you can battle it out against players globally to rise on the leader boards. Hot Seat is quite a unique local co-op mode were up to eight players can take it in turns of controlling the rally car, it is great fun and feels quite fresh. Obviously, there are the more traditional modes in Online multiplayer and Split Screen local.
WRC 7 is a fun racing title that looks quite good and controls reasonably well. It attempts to cater to all gamers with its auto difficulty setting. In the most part it works, but it never feels as polished as some of the big players of the genre. Perhaps it is due to the restraints of an official licence but when comparing to the likes of Dirt 4 it is hard to recommend a purchase due to the limitations of following the WRC. Overall though it is an enjoyable game, racing fans will have some fun churning the dirt!