WRC 8: the official game review
WRC 8: The Official Game, aka World Rally Challenge 8, is developer Kylotonn (KT) Racing Games’ latest kick-off at World Rally Can. The French development team took over the series in 2015 and this iteration is a big step in the right direction. Fans of racing simulation games are die-hards, and neither are rally cross enthusiasts, and care about all the details, so official licensing is a big deal. If nothing else, KT Racing has plundered this license to provide a very thorough 2019 season.
This means that the full 2019 calendar of the 14 countries is reproduced in WRC 8. In addition, the WRC, WRC2 and World Junior teams are included. What this means in terms of leads is that the sites in Turkey and Chile are included but Poland is abandoned. This compromise is obvious because Turkey and Chile offer very difficult tracks which are twisty, tight and windy. A mistake on any of these trails will throw you up the mountainside only to fall hundreds of feet. The illusion of danger is somewhat offset by the game bringing you back to the track, but you still feel the white tension of the joints of sailing on those narrow, nasty tracks.
KT Racing has made real progress with the graphics – the game looks very good. Rally races are unique from most races where the focus is on one car. From a design point of view, this simplifies things and allows the released game overload not to show a moment on the multi-car screen to be used for optimization of frame rate and environment of overall race. It’s a coding balance between these two forces. All of this is accomplished while maintaining the frame rate above the mandatory 60 fps for racing games to keep input game responses in sync with your driving inputs.
The cars are well rendered, and depending on the view taken, so are the weather effects. The rain beaded on the windshield is rendered realistically, as are the effects of water dragging off the windshield when the wipers are on. Likewise, the effects of dust and mud on the car and windshield organically accumulate during a race. In addition to the presentation of cars, the game has great lighting effects for the times of the day. Early morning sunlight pierces trees and the light also presents itself well for weather conditions such as when it is raining or sunlight pierces clouds.
On the physical side, the game generally behaves well, especially when the tires are on the ground. Things get a little wobbly if the car is taking the air, whether during jumps or, more specifically, when you lose control. In those moments of loss of control when the car goes off the road, everything seems to fit into the Matrix time. Your car acts as if it is floating almost like a feather instead of propelling the air like the hundreds of pound object it is. Quite possibly a baffling but game design decision where reality is a heavily placed premium over everything else. It’s really evident in the views out of the car.
As for the road now, the physics are really good here too. The differences in control behavior between FWD and AWD rally cars are obvious. Even just using a controller. The game really shines with an FFB wheel. Gravel and unpaved road surfaces can be felt quite vividly, further enhanced when paired with great sound effects. You can really feel the grip transition as the tires fight for traction on gravel, dirt, rain or snow.
The sound of this game is also solid. From the moans and roars of the engine to the rumble of the exhaust to collisions with rocks, fences or road barriers. Environmental noises are also present and well localized, whether it is the wiper blades, splashing water when running in puddles, or the noise of crowds. Hell even down to the moaning engine revs that really skyrocket if you keep your foot on the accelerator when the car takes off.
Splish, Splash, Just Takein ‘a Drive
WRC 8 also comes with an impressive career mode that feels fleshed out and worthy of supporting the logistics of a global business. The menus are divided into three main screens which are clean and easy to read. However, it can be a bit of a hassle to navigate between the pages. Oddly, there is a shortcut solution where menu categories are displayed at the bottom center of the screen, but this submenu is for display only and is not clickable.
The career mode includes team management activities for these micro-managers. More importantly, there is also a research and development tree that allows you to grab your racing earnings and use them to improve your cars. The selection of the car list is limited. You can choose from any of the modern rally car builders, but beyond that, historic classes are scarce.
I have to note that the game crashed a lot on me. Always while charging – once I got in and ran there were never any other crashes. I don’t have this problem with other runners and only improved the situation by uninstalling Geforce Experience from Nvidia. KT Racing is aware of this issue and is working to resolve it.
Where does it all leave us? With a pretty fun rally racer. The graphics, sound, presentation and force feedback all blend together to create a wonderful feeling of speed and the ever-present feeling of danger that plunges you into the world of rally racing. Rally races are tough. An error in judgment and your podium hopes are dashed.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***
- Core gameplay captures a constant knife-edge feel
- Gorgeous graphics
- Solid physics on the track
- Spotlight on classic / historic cars
- A floating car crashes off-road