Game Info:

WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship
Developed By: KT Racing
Published By: Bigben Interactive
Release Date: September 5, 2019
Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One (Switch coming soon)
Genre: Racing
Number of Players: 1-2 local split screen; online leaderboards
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
MSRP: $49.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thanks you Bigben for sending us this game to review!

I have been enjoying rally-style racing games for a few years now, since the release of Dirt Rally. Each developer has their own take on the genre, and some are quite successful. WRC 8 is definitely one of the best and most accessible. Much of the complexity you find in others is still there but hidden away, only an ‘advanced’ click away, if you desire to tweak; if not, there is still plenty to enjoy, with a ton of content.

WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship is a beautifully rendered 3D racing game where you can drive over one hundred (!) different courses, racing against the clock, as you try to maneuver through tarmac, gravel, mud, and snow, through all kinds of weather and terrain challenges. It is also the official game of the real-life WRC league, and the levels are faithful recreations of real locations and tracks, and I believe the racers you complete against are real, also. During a race, you have a co-driver who gives you a heads up as to what is coming up next, as without his help, you could find yourself off of a cliff in a hurry (well, at speeds ranging from one to one hundred miles-per-hour, at any rate).

With so many courses to choose from, you will no doubt find more than a few to like. I found the physics and handling, especially on tarmac/asphalt courses, to be excellent. My biggest complaint, and one that seems to be common in many racing games, is how it handles off-road bumps. I like how this game handles sliding off of the track; you have ten seconds to get back on with no penalties, so cutting corners can occasionally work out. But I don’t like how the slightest bump can lead to multiple airborne flips. While I’m sure it’s possible in real life, it seems a bit too easy to do here.

Other than that, I really enjoyed my time with this game. I use my Logitech G27 racing wheel, connected to a metal wheel stand. The force feedback, as well as the sense of control the game grants you, is excellent. Despite supporting my H-shifter perfectly, it doesn’t require you to press in on the clutch pedal to switch gears. But, if you do press it in, it does properly disengage the gear, and popping the clutch launches you exactly as you expect, sometimes breaking the tires free of grip. I found this quite useful in recovering speed after slowing down greatly through hairpin turns. Since the car was front-wheel drive, I would lean into the turn, and then prep the gas + clutch, popping it as I pulled out of the turn. The car would snap into the straightaway, and recovering my speed much more quickly than just putting the pedal to the metal. Engine breaking also worked as expected, which is extremely useful in wet and especially snowy conditions. I also love hearing the engine noise, and the turbo whine is a nice touch.

WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship

Strong Points: Excellent graphics; really good engine sound effects; physics simulation is very good, and driving feels great, especially on tarmac; nearly perfect force feedback wheel support; simplified racing experience for those who want that, but also a complex car sim for those who prefer that; long and engrossing career mode; split-screen support
Weak Points: Limited car selection in career mode; can take a while to build up reputation with a manufacturer to get promoted to the next tier; ran into a bug with two steering wheels with different capabilities, where one couldn’t shift
Moral Warnings: You can drive off of a cliff; hitting a person is worth a nine second penalty

The vast majority of my time in-game was spent in career mode, which is the meatiest of the modes available. Here, you are starting as a new driver, working with your corporate sponsor (it usually starts as Ford), trying to win race after race. At the end of each season, you have the opportunity to choose a new contract; if you have taken enough opportunities to drive manufacturer tryouts, you may be offered a chance to switch to a new car brand, or to a new league. After two seasons with Ford, I was offered the opportunity to switch over to Citroen – and be promoted to the WRC 2 bracket, from the Junior WRC bracket I started on. This gave me a new, much faster car to drive – that also happens to be four-wheel drive, which is simply awesome in the challenging terrain we often get to drive through.

Like many games with a career mode, you get to manage your budget, repairs, and your crew. Money is easy to come by, as long as you are willing to replay levels as often as you need to in order to win each race. (It only lets you do this on the Easy difficulty level. Otherwise, you are limited to four retries. I would recommend starting here if you are not particularly good at Rally games.) Since I tend to be a perfectionist (and again, I played on Easy), I have been replaying races until I would win them. This also helps you to be a much better racer; believe me, I've gotten a ton better since I started. If you just play through a rally once, and accept your fate - I could see you being short on cash in no time. If that happens, you may find yourself without enough money to repair your vehicle in between races. I have not been in that situation, but it wouldn't be pretty. Car failure sure is a rough way to flunk out of the WRC.

Outside of just repairs, your crew also helps you be more efficient. Better Mechanics allow you to repair more in between races on a multi-day rally (typically two races per day, with time to repair in between the days) than a poor mechanic would be able to. Their salary costs a bit more, but it's more than worth it in earning potential. Speaking of which, Financial Directors help you be more efficient with your money, by earning more and spending less. Engineers help you gain more experience, which helps you level up your team's skills. Physical Therapists help keep your crew energy levels high; if they get exhausted, you have to hire another to take their place. Agents help you get rare and valuable races, and Meteorologists help you determine the weather, which is far more useful then you might think, since you need to pick a set of tires for an entire day of races, and making the wrong choice can kill traction.

Each level you gain grants you a skill point to allocate, and by doing so, you can improve one of four areas: Team, Crew, Performance, and Reliability. I found that the available Junior WRC leagues only let you specialize in the first two, which means you end up getting a team that grants you significant bonuses to moneymaking and gaining experience, among other things. I found it to be a good foundation for when I finally ended up in the WRC 2 bracket.

WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

In Career mode, you also get to reply to emails (yes, more work!) and even pay the bills. If that wasn't enough, you get to set your own calendar, to an extent - certain days are big rallies, that you can't skip. But in between them you can rest (for the crew), perform maintenance, train, do a historic race, practice in extreme conditions, manufacturer tryouts, or perhaps some other event that is escaping me. These all give you plenty to do and keep the game from getting too boring or repetitive, though at the end of the day most events are more racing, in one form or another.

You can also customize your ride to an extent. You can't change the looks (at least to the point I got to), but you can adjust the suspension, differential, brakes, transmission, and aerodynamics. You can save profiles to help optimize for each road type, and choose them when you race. This, in addition to tires, should be enough for most needs.

And finally, there are perks you can use for a single race, that you earn while completing other tasks, and there are mission objectives (like forcing you to use a certain kind of tire) that can help you experience things you might not otherwise be inclined to do. I was irritated one time that an objective, rest three times in a six week period, was actually impossible for me to achieve because the semi-random calendar events on offer simply did not make available enough rest periods to accomplish the task - and believe me, I tried.

Other modes you can choose to play include a simplified Season mode, where all of the crew management is all removed; you just go from one rally to the next, eventually getting promoted based on your performance. There is the perennial Quick Play, which simply lets you choose your track, category, and vehicle. From there, you can have a race without consequences - just have fun. Sadly, there is only one rear-wheel drive car in the entire game, which feels much different than the other cars on offer (and in a good way). You can only use it on specified bonus events, or in Quick Play. There is also a Test Area where you can drive and car on a test track in any car with any weather you choose. There is also a Training mode which helps you get better at certain driving skills.

Multiplayer modes are mostly about beating another's time on the track. There is local split-screen, which is really great, and works well. I ran into a bug with my two wheels though; my Logitech G27 works great, but my Logitech MOMO, which is an older wheel without a clutch pedal, also works when it's alone - but not when connected together with the G27. When either player connected using a gamepad, it worked perfectly.

The online modes are leaderboards, which are simply the best track times that anyone has; this can include you (or me), since any race is automatically uploaded. The other modes are specific challenges (like can you make a jump on this track bigger than our professional?) or play a specific, pre-planned event, and compete against the world to see who is best. There is currently an 'Online' section that is locked; apparently that is an upcoming feature for a future version.

WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship is probably my favorite rally racing simulation to date. I wish the car selection was better (there are really only about fourteen total), and the cloud save feature of the Epic Games Store does not seem to work at all for this game, which is also disappointing. But overall, the game looks great, plays great, and is completely appropriate - unless you consider hitting a pedestrian to deserve a penalty higher than nine seconds, or consider driving off of a cliff violent. If you have any interest in rally racing games, WRC 8 should easily be on your short list to check out.

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Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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