The WRC series on Switch feels a bit like a sponge hammer to us. We appreciate the effort that went into it and it kind of feels like the real thing, but it never quite nails it properly.
After getting off to a rocky start with WRC 8 on Switch and then delivering a slightly improved but still shonky sequel, the series is back with its tenth entry and, again, it’s a bit better without being overwhelmingly brilliant.
On the road, it’s business as usual. As a serious rally sim, WRC 10 isn’t the kind of game you can jump into for the first time and instantly start revving your car like Sega Rally himself had risen from his grave. If you’re new to the series, expect to do poorly for a while.
This is a game where your driving skills must be exceptional, and you are punished mercilessly if they are not. The slightest clip of an object on the side of the road will cause you to spin or tumble, and any oversteer in tight corners can send you skidding out of control.
The latter can be mitigated a bit by heading into options and reassigning the throttle and brake controls. By default these are mapped to ZR and ZL respectively, but since they are not analog triggers they lack the nuance needed for certain turns in a serious rally game.
By mapping them to the right analog stick instead and playing with a dual-stick control method, players can gain much better control over acceleration and braking, making it easier to navigate tricky corners without spinning. in a ring. To do this, however, you must also disable the ability to rotate the camera with the right stick. Listen, it’s a whole.
The slick handling combined with the game’s exceptionally long courses mean there’s a pretty steep difficulty curve, then, and there will be plenty of times when you’ll make the air bluer than Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza when you hit a ditch seven minutes after a run and tumble upside down on the hood.
Once you finally get the hang of things – which, as we say, can take a while – you’ll find that the WRC can be hugely satisfying. When you finally start putting in reasonable times that challenge those of your competitors, you really feel like you’ve accomplished something.
There’s one thing that really can’t be ignored, though, and if you’ve been discerning while browsing through this review, you might have noticed it already. As in previous years, it is not an attractive game. In fact, while we were playing it, we kept saying to ourselves, “I remember last year’s one looked bad, but did it really look that bad? “
Sure enough, we re-downloaded WRC 9 and captured a few screens from that, then matched the car, track, corner and weather in WRC 10, and in the few situations we tested, WRC 10 looks noticeably worse than its already ugly predecessor.
Quite why this is the case isn’t really clear. Perhaps the graphical details have been reduced even further in an effort to improve performance, but whatever the reason, there seems to be visual degradation here. We’d need to spend a lot more time doing comparisons to say this definitively, but based on our own brief tests, it certainly seems to be the case.
In docked mode it passes just about acceptable, but play the game in handheld mode and the graphical glitches are so severe that they provide a huge distraction while driving. Not only is the frame rate coarser than a sandpaper cheese grater, but it’s also hard to focus on a crucial long run when trees and other scenery appear 10 feet in front of you like s there was a problem in the matrix and it’s constantly trying to catch up with you.
If you can put up with a game whose environments are almost always extremely disappointing, there’s actually a lot more to offer here than last year’s game, which itself was already quite stacked with content. As well as the return of the in-depth career mode (which has barely changed much), there’s also an all-new mode celebrating the 50th anniversary of the World Rally Championship, which lets you follow a series of classic courses from different key years. in sports history.
Naturally, rally enthusiasts are going to get the most out of this feature, and if the thought of driving the Sanremo track in 1974 or taking part in the New Zealand Rally in 1992 has you dribbling in your driving suit, you are ready for an absolute treat here. Even if you don’t have such a strong affinity for the sport and the words “Finland 1981” and “Sweden 2004” might as well be Eurovision events for you, the fact that this mode increases the total number of tracks considerably is always cause for celebration.
Last year’s games featured a total of 107 courses, spread across 13 venues. This time, with all the actual WRC 2021 stages, plus Belgium and Wales bonus stages from older games, plus all the anniversary content, you have 142 courses in front of you across 19 venues. Since many of these courses are extremely long given the nature of the sport, this means there must be over 1000 km of track.
This also extends to cars. While WRC 9 featured a total of 22 different models covering a mix of modern and classic vehicles, the focus on sports history this time around means even more legendary cars are available to drive, bringing the total number at 35. So if you really want to pretend it’s Sega Rally, you can now pull out the ’90s Toyota Celica GT-Four and yell “LONG EASY RIGHT MAYBE” at the screen. Except Sega Rally probably looked better, to be fair.
WRC 10 packs a lot more content than its already comprehensive predecessor and can deliver hugely satisfying rally gameplay once you get used to its (precisely) ruthless handling. This is however let down by the game’s visuals, which are tolerable when docked but look horrible when played on a handheld. As long as you can stomach the look of it, there should be enough here to keep you busy for months.