WRC 4 FIA World Rally Championship – Review

After several hours spread across four race seasons, I finally won the World Rally Championship along with finishing first in my WRC2, WRC3 and JWRC seasons. With four full seasons of experience under my belt, I put together a video review which can be found below.

Of course since racing games are one of my favourite genres, I simply could’t help myself but compare it to the next best competitor. Why did I compare WRC 4 to a game that predates it by eight years? Find out in my extra discussion following the video review below.

Plus – The Good

  • Realistic physics while remaining fun and accessible.
  • Each country from the WRC calendar is present.
  • Good visuals considering ultra low system requirements.

Minus – The Bad

  • Several courses share the same sections.
  • Lack of overall variety leads to repetitiveness.
  • Colin McRae Rally 2005 is arguably better in many ways, read my extra discussion below as to why this is the case.

Score 6 Large – The Verdict

 

After four flawless seasons in WRC 4, I’m afraid to say that I will be retiring from the sport as I simply cannot see myself taking another run at it. Alright fair enough, the game really isn’t that bad but it does have many shortcomings as discussed in my video review. Was it unfair to compare WRC 4 to a game that pre-dates it by eight years? Lets find out in this extra discussion.

First off let me introduce the competitor in question,  Colin McRae Rally 2005 (CMR). Developed by Codemasters, the Colin McRae series started in 1998 and continues to this day. The past few games in the series have adopted the Dirt title as they shifted away from the late Colin McRae branding. This name change also signaled a shift into opening up the series to more off-road events and vehicles instead of pure rallying. While certain die-hard fans may not appreciate the more mainstream appeal of the recent tiles, Codemasters has certainly enjoyed the massive boost in success and popularity from this change.

On a graphical level comparing the two games outright would be pointless as WRC 4 being eight years newer is simply better overall. To put it in perspective CMR only needed a GeForce 3 series while WRC 4 requires a GeForce 8800GT. The gap between these video cards is much larger than a integrated card like the Intel GMA versus a high end GTX 780.

The Australian rally as seen in CMR and WRC 4, eight years of graphics makes a big difference.

 InRace-CMR InRace-WRC

 Despite having better visuals, WRC 4 severely lags behind CMR when it comes to damage modeling and simulation. Visually both games handle light impacts relatively similar, the parts involved in the impact will deform while the rest stay relatively intact. As the sustained damage increases or rather large impacts occur, the differences between both games becomes quite apparent. In WRC 4 some of the worst damage sustainable will simply result in the loss of the bumper covers along with heavy body and window damage, oddly enough the roof stays intact even after multiple rollovers. In CMR you can effectively damage and lose every body panel on the car and even certain components like the exhaust, tires and mud flaps. When you look at the pictures below, the car in WRC 4 is nearly maxed out on visual damage while CMR of only half way there.

 While the poor Subaru is CMR is half way to maximum damage, WRC 4 is pretty much maxed out.

HeavyDamage-CMR HeavyDamage-WRC

For reference here are the cars while they were in good condition.

NoDamage-CMR NoDamage-WRC

  This gap continues when it comes to actual driving handling and performance. In both games you can damage the engine, turbo, cooling which can eventually result in significant power loss. However CMR takes it a step further in regards to cooling system damage which will cause overheating issues, this in turn continually damages and hurts engine performance and can eventually lead to engine stalls. Beyond simple performance/power loss, WRC 4 doesn’t venture any further. The performance differences continue in regards to steering and suspension related damage as well. While you can damage various steering and suspension components in WRC 4, the only performance effect you will notice is the softer and less controlled ride when the dampers and springs get damaged. CMR once again pushes further by adding in tracking issues which causes the car to pull to one side, wheel hub damage which causes instability at high speeds as well as tire wear which can eventually lead to a blowout.

I also covered the issue regarding the content, both cars and tracks. Both games actually feature a similar amount of tracks, WRC 4 has 78 tracks spread over 13 locations with 6 stages each while CMR features 72 tracks spread over 9 locations with 8 stages each. As I discussed in the review, the stages within a location in WRC 4 are not quite completely unique. It feels like each location had a single fairly large stage designed which was subsequently split to create 6 ‘unique’ stages to race on. The end result means that you will find yourself driving over the same part of the track a few times in different stages which is quite disappointing. On the other hand CMR not only features unique stages, they also have a very unique flavor for each location. If you were to strip the location specific texturing for some of the locations in WRC 4, I would have a hard time figuring out which location the stage came from as they all feel fairly similar. I found that most of the locations in WRC 4 never really emulated the real-life rally it was based on. CMR once again nails this perfectly by correctly imitating each location by including what made them so unique. Also as an added bonus, every stage in CMR features variable weather while WRC 4 can simply has a choice for time of day.

An example of the stages, why so many hairpins in Australia?

Stage3-CMR Stage3-WRC

  While I can continue on and discuss the selection of cars available in CMR, I think you should already know why I believe CMR is the much better game. Despite being a significantly older game, it is painfully obvious how much more time effort went into making CMR. I still remember trying out Colin McRae Rally 2005 on a demo kiosk when it released nearly ten years ago and that game immediately had me hooked due to the neat features discussed above. To make things worse for WRC 4, there are several other great features that I simply didn’t have room to discuss. Unfortunately for WRC 4, it really never had anything neat or interesting that would grab players to make them come back for more.