WRC 4 Review – Rally no difference


By Darryn Bonthuys on Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"After four years it’s still the exact same game"

WRC 4 (1)

Anyway you slice it, motor sports are pretty damn exciting. You’ve got the speedy glamour of F1, the tight corners of the MotoGP and the off-road thrills of the World Rally Championship. For four years now, developer Milestone have been trying to capture that licensed glory in their WRC games. And once again, they’ve failed spectacularly to do so.

Once again, it’s the exact same game. Hell, I could have slapped a 4 on my last WRC review and called it a day if I wanted to. WRC 4 once again puts you in the shoes of a hotshot racer, much like any other racer, by getting players to customise their driver and co-driver with a system made up of public domain photos and names.

WRC 4 (7)

It’s a start to a game that will have no real impact whatsoever, and that feeling of mediocrity continues as you go further into your career. Milestone has obviously been paying attention to what Codemasters have done with their racing game franchises, as you’ll find a menu system which looks remarkably familiar.

From there you can set up your races, cars, sponsorships and check the news, before working your way up the ladder to WRC glory. Starting seasons are now slightly shorter in order to make up for time spent once again building up a racer, before heading out to lengthier events when you hit the pro circuit.

WRC 4 (6)

And after a well edited video showing off all that sweet rally action, you’re going to be pumped up. Oh yeah, this year is going to be different. This year I’m going to slide around the corners with some crisp graphics and decent handling physics.

Sweet Colin McCrae, was I wrong.

As a racing game, WRC 4 tries to balance itself between a faithful simulation of the sport and an arcade racer, succeeding on neither front. The game just doesn’t feel technical enough for your garage tinkering to actually create a real difference on the track, while the attempt at creating a more exciting race with light arcade physics feels dull and lifeless.

WRC 4 (4)

Races are still point to point affairs, taking place on tarmac, dirt and hybrid roads as players race to achieve the best possible time while a Scottish co-driver once again yells at you about something to the left like a bad Beyonce song.

You look at actual WRC races, and you’ll feel just how exciting those courses are, with cars taking perfect slides around dirt corners and leaping over hills in an effort to grab first place on point to point races. WRC 4 completely fails to capture that feeling, and should be marketed as a sleeping aid instead of a game worth your hundreds of Randelas.

WRC 4 (3)

Rally tournaments are all about momentum, and WRC 4 just cannot seem to find any of that, from both a technical and metaphorical viewpoint. The handling is as notoriously as stiff as ever, never loosening up to give players that thrill of dirt road racing, while your co-driver is as annoying as ever and repeats lines over and over again in his usual monotonous tone.

Likewise with the damage model, something just doesn’t feel right, while the game is also host to some mind-numbingly long loading screens. There are courses which are uglier than human nature, track designs which seem to think that flipping a course backwards is an improvement and visuals which belong to the Playstation 2 era.

WRC 4 (2)

Sure, your rally vehicle looks solid, and some nice weather effects make themselves known, but the rest of the game looks like a dog threw up its breakfast as you wind your way through some narrow courses. If you’re still sticking around to see if the game will actually open up to add something more to the overused formula, then you’re wasting your time.

A laggy online component with basic ideas in place and quick races where players can take part in full races and championship basically rounds out the experience. I could go on, but really, the biggest problem here is that WRC 4 has no real competition, leaving that game to have a tight monopoly on all its licensed content and no real motivation to actually improve.

After four years it’s still the exact same game, with no effort being put into to making a solid foundation actually more exciting and intriguing. It’s the very definition of cashing in on annual franchise, making for a game that is average at best.

WRC 4 was reviewed by on the 26th of November , 2013 at 3:30 PM on Xbox 360

GAMEPLAY
6.0
WRC 4 is passable and far from broken, but it's missing the key ingredients to stand out and drift into an exciting corner of fun and technical joy.
DESIGN
5.0
After several years the cars finally look decent, while everything else in this game looks like it belongs to another generation from yesteryear.
VALUE
5.0
When you've taken the exact same corner for the hundredth time while your co-driver barks orders at you, WRC 4 quickly becomes stale and old. A fact evident when you realise that you've paid for the exact same game for the fourth time now.
TOTAL
5.0
WRC 4 is a perfect example of an annualised game at its worst, having churned out yet another sub-par performance which rests on average and has no drive to go further and actually be worthwhile.

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Author:Darryn Bonthuys

Because he's the writer that Lazygamer deserves, but not the one it actually needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can't take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a loud-mouthed journalist, a watchful procrastinator. A dork knight.
  • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

    Sounds better than GRID 2.

    • Johan du Preez

      I love grid 2 still playing it. NFS Rivals now there is a sore point ….

      • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

        NFS is a sore series

        Edit: Aside from Most Wanted, Underground 1 and 2, original Hot Pursuit 1 and 2

      • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

        I loved Codemasters. Since the first time I played a Codemasters racing game, GRID 1 was amazing. But with GRID 2 they put themselves in the NFS league, something that I find very dull.

        • Johan du Preez

          I agree it got very arcady, the original Grid was epic and remember allot of frustrating but rewarding moments.

      • Zubayr Bhyat

        NFS has been crap for years now. Shift 2 got better with patches though.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    A couple of friends & I used to LAN Network QRAC Rally back in the day. You had to be really careful when ramming someone off the road…

    • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

      This game was tops! I used to take a Ford Cosworth and tweak the gear ratios to hit 321km/h lol

    • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

      You really should be careful when ramming someone off the road. Public indecency is a crime.

      • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

        Hahaha. I’d say that’s a talent actually.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I used to love Colin McRae Rally, but this is ridiculous. I could have sworn WRC4 is WRC3. Well spotted Darryn.

    • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

      Just for a test, I booted up both WRC 4 and 1. Could hardly tell the difference.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        Unbelievable….

        • FoxOneZA

          And to think Milestone have being making games since SBK 2001 and F1 2000. My childhood feels ruined now :(

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Yeah…. :/ This is actually saddening.

      • Acornbread

        Maybe I’m so biased and aching for a good rally game that I can’t see straight, but I think this is better than 3, which was much better than 2. Never played the first. The quality isn’t up to par yet, but it does improve each year. Just my 2 cents….

      • Theo Steenekamp

        Its like all the Fifa games…

  • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

    I need to find a decent Rally game… but I don’t think there’s a recent one that falls under either Decent or Rally… or Game

    • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

      Sadly, there isn’t. Hell, there’s barely a decent Racing game.

      • TiMsTeR1033

        *cough* FORZA

        • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

          I agree. Forza is awesome, but the fact that it’s only on Xbox means that for those who don’t have Xbox’s it technically doesn’t exist.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)
          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            You should see RaceRoom’s microtransactions.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            lol free-to-play is a dirty lie!

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            I’m literally just playing the free bits until Assetto Corsa comes out, then I can buy a decent game. It’s looking pretty good so far.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Yeah, I know that feeling, I’m playing this city management game on android. Just to pass the time…. (even though my backlog is starring at me laughing)

          • Skoobaz

            I’ll just leave this here: Project Cars

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            I actually spent some time comparing Project Cars and Assetto Corsa and I honestly can’t say which one I prefer. I suppose it’ll come down to how it feels when I’ve actually tried them both. But Project Cars is looking mind blowing, I must concur.

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        Well said

        • TiMsTeR1033

          Well said se gat!

    • TiMsTeR1033

      Dirt 2?

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        Dirt 2 isn’t BAD… but it’s still not on the level of FUN as like Grid… I haven’t enjoyed a racing game since Grid lol

        • TiMsTeR1033

          I played Grid demo on pc, I never enjoyed it much. I am assuming you tried Forza 3 or 4?

          • CypherGate

            Forza series is brilliant. Thats the only racing game im REALLY enjoying in a long time. The combination of racing and rewards always pushes you to play more and get better.

          • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

            I don’t enjoy Forza or Gran Tourismo

        • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

          GRID was just absolutely great.

    • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

      GTA V lol

      • TiMsTeR1033

        not a racing game lol.

        • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

          When the cops chase you, that’s racing. lol

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        still have to find someone that’ll trust me in rally race on GTA Online… lol

        • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

          What’s your gamertag? Mine is Gr8_Bols_o_Fyr or something like that

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Mine is ‘have_a_pc_no_GTAV’

          • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

            Yet.. You can be damn sure that the PC version will be lightyears ahead! Especially with the mods.

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            I remain positive. We will have GTA V and we will mod it like crazy.

          • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

            Cartman mod first!

          • Mario Dupuis

            oh yes!

    • loftie

      Sega Rally Championship 95 bru!

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        hahaha true

    • Spathi

      Richard Burns Rally. Really decent rally game, although it is old.

      • Mighty Meh

        Dammit, you beat me to it. By far the most realistic rally game out there especially if you download the RSRBR13 Mod. Yeah the graphics are old but I can guarantee that it will be the last thing on your mind.

        Coupled with a decent force feedback steering wheel, you are in for one hell of a ride!

        • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

          All the kids nowadays want their hands to be held at the expense of us connoisseurs who want a proper challenge.

          • Mario Dupuis

            not necessary the kids that ask for that. Dev do not want to put enough effort in what can make a good game, an awesome game. And sometime it’s them that wanna take the shortcut of making a crap game that will sell anyway. It’s money that talks, not the kids. Even them are spoiled.

          • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

            I agree, I did not think of that angle :) Money and publishers’ timelines then..

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    So.. CoD on wheels then..

    • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

      Take that! An upvote.

      • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

        Hahthankyew

    • FoxOneZA

      You are on a roll ;D

  • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

    Put a few bottles of Diet Coke in the road in front of that Mini and wait for something extraordinary to happen.

    • Mario Dupuis

      it will not happen in that game, they will forget to put a collision model on the bottles

  • Acornbread

    While this game is far from perfect, it’s a definite improvement on last year’s affair. Milestone have stopped trying to compete with Codemasters and have done away with the annoying obstacle courses. It’s a straightforward rally game, not an offroad bro-racer like DiRT. Unfortunately, the market for this kind of game is small and most gamers will find the DiRT series more exciting. While DiRT is a more polished experience, I honestly enjoy this more.

    Regarding physics and handling: it straddles the line between arcade and sim, somewhat undecidedly. Whereas Forza Horizon largely pulled this off, this game feels strange. It takes a fair amount of skill to drive well (all assists off, naturally) and it’s undoubtedly fun, but there’s still a way to go for Milestone in this department.

    I’m writing this for any rally fans who are itching for something like the legendary Richard Burns Rally from 2004, the last great rally sim on any platform. This game doesn’t come close, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’ve written Codemasters off, their Colin McRae days are a distant memory. My fingers are crossed that Milestone, or another studio, will make a brilliant enthusiast’s rally game. Please. It’s been too long.

  • Chris De Wet

    I see no-one said anything about NFS Carbon. That was the day EA completely lost the plot according to me. Lazy bunch of bastards.

    Demolition Derby 2 was cool. And the original Carmaggedon.

  • Benjamin Statham

    Games are marked down for being the same thing each time now huh? Interesting… So why is COD still getting good reviews?

  • Malcolm Cook

    Absolutely appalling effort yet again. Same old crap, courses don’t flow, you cant get up to any speed before another 50 frikkin hairpins popup. There’s no runoff, roads are ridiculously narrow leaving no room for error. The people who designed this live in some incredible world where there’s a hairpin every 100m in every country. Its just lazy because the game engine cant handle a large environment. They need to bin whatever engine they are using and start from scratch. Though not perfect, the Dirt series at least gives a hint of how it should be done. Stinking pile of sh#t, do not waste your money on this, I’ve just uninstalled it after half an hour. Frustrating and ugly…

  • Keldroc

    “Races are still point to point affairs”

    As opposed to…?

  • ze

    this review is bullshit, there was great improvements from the older wrcs to this one, you can see just by the demos this game is way better then the previous ones.

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