The line between racing simulators and arcade racers have blurred over the last couple of years. One of the reasons for this is simply to make the genre a bit more accessible. Most racing games also don’t focus on just one discipline, which adds some variety and spice in the mix. But that is not always the case, and we still get good racing simulators out there that stays true to what it says it is.
WRC 7 is one such game.
What’s in the package?
WRC 7 is the official World Rally Championship game and is fully licensed with all the teams, cars, drivers and rally locations. It features a Solo mode, which allows you to do single quick races, work your way through the ranks in a Career Mode, and a Custom Championship Mode, which allows you to “host” your own Championship with as many or few of the different tracks as you like. It’s pretty basic, but there is some value to it.
Career mode sees you being signed by a team in the WRC Junior Championships, and asks you to work your way through the ranks of WRC2, to WRC. Progression is very linear, and a bit dull with no real reward for doing it. It does teach you the ins and out of Rally racing, including car set up, management and so on. The issue with it is that it gets repetitive, and can take a bit long to get to the faster cars where all the fun lies.
The best value to be had in Solo Play is Custom Championships, which is exactly what it is. You can select your favourite tracks and rallies, and go have fun in those, while just ignoring the races that you might find too challenging or boring.
WRC 7 also features a multiplayer mode, which is actually much better than I expected. One of the issues with Rally racing is that it is always a form of Time Attack, and you’re always driving on your own. Multiplayer still has that, since the tracks don’t allow multiple vehicles on it at the same time, but it still has a form of a race going, where you race against coloured ghosts of other drivers at the same time they are racing. It’s done pretty well, and ended up being a lot more fun then I was expecting.
Traditionally, Rally simulators have been brutally hard, and was meant for the truly hardcore. Because of this, it became a very niche genre. WRC 7 tries to rectify this by striking a good balance between accessible and fully hardcore. And the execution of this is pretty good. You still feel like an absolute bad ass driving at 180km/h down a narrow, bumpy gravel road with all the assists still on. It really doesn’t feel like you’re playing with training wheels, and the help that the game is giving you is very subtle. Turn all these things off, and it becomes an absolute beast, which requires a level of concentration that us mere mortals don’t possess. So to me, it is clear that WRC 7 caters to everyone who might pick up a copy of the game.
It’s still not an arcade game, and that’s something that should be remembered right from the start. There’s no racing lines, no rewind feature, and no track layout on your HUD. You still rely on the information that your Co-Driver gives you, and the pacenote that appear on screen. So it’s a good idea what visual and audio cue mean, especially if you want to improve your times. in the race.
A good game, but very rough around the edges
WRC 7 does a lot of things very well. The level of control and game customisation is very deep and it also plays very, very well. The cars feel responsive, and the way they react to the uneven surface and different conditions seem very realistic. Sound design is also some of the best I’ve heard. Hearing the pebbles and rocks ping of the undercarriage of the car as you hurdle yourself over a gravel surface is so good. It’s clear that the development team spent a lot of time to get this aspect of the game right. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of other things lacking.
For instance, there is no photo mode, which in this day and age is almost inexcusable in a racing game. I also didn’t see a replay mode or anything like that. And maybe this is a good thing, because the game can at times look very unpolished and dated. It’s not always the case. As I mentioned, the vehicles look impressive and the game has some incredible lighting effects going for it, but that’s about where it stops.
The crowds look like they fell out of the previous decade, and the scenery that consists of trees, bushes, rocks and buildings look like it belongs on a console from two generations ago. It’s really weird, as it almost feels like place holders for something better. There are areas in the game that looks sublime, while other areas just falls to pieces. A good example is environmental and weather effects. Go around a tight, downhill hairpin and you’ll see this amazing-looking dust cloud that you kicked up on your way through. Or drive through a forest at full speed at dusk and the ‘God rays’ that break through the trees and cast shadows on the road and your car looks like the real thing – as if you are there in person.
But drive through a body of water you see nothing but a lazy splash effect that they could actually have left out entirely. Weather effects are also very forgettable, with you hardly noticing when it’s raining or snowing. The effect is there in the racing and the track condition is affected, but there’s no visual cue to remind you that it’s still actually happening.
If you are in the market for a decent Rally game and willing to look past its short coming, then WRC 7 might just be for you. It is a bit unpolished and unfinished in some places, but overall, it’s a very competent racing sim with a decent package. It’s very far from perfect, but it plays very well, and can scratch that true simulation itch for you.