If in doubt, go flat out…
Rallying is the world’s most challenging and exhilarating motor sport bar none. Watching it on television is tantamount to self-flagellation, but to be part of it either as a co-driver, steward or better still the person behind the wheel is something all speed freaks should experience. The thing is translating that fear of the unknown and the high state of driving alertness necessary to effectively hurtle around country roads millimetres from instant death is near enough impossible, yet that hasn’t stopped the ambitious developer Milestone from trying. WRC 3 doesn’t get everything right, far from it, but it is the most authentic rallying experience we’ve enjoyed for at least twelve months.
All of the best bits from last year’s edition have come over including the stiff yet convincing handling model and the confusingly uneven presentation. To balance out the needlessly bulky menu design and simplistic setup interface, there’s voiced introductions for each of the game’s stages – Monte Carlo, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Mexico, Portugal, Argentina, Acropolis, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, Wales – and more dubstep than you’d find an under-16 disco. As you can imagine it doesn’t quite mesh together or fit in with the source material, but thankfully Milestone haven’t messed with the nuts and bolts of the sport.
On the main menu there are two options, the WRC Championship and a career mode dubbed ‘Road to Glory’. This mode skilfully introduces each of the three classes of car on offer, equating to thirty-six different makes and models, and takes the player on a whistle stop tour of the world’s premier rally destinations with seven different fictional driver aces to compete against for a place in the WRC. The presentation again is hokey with an over-reliance on drawn art, but the premise is delivered in a novel way with stars dished out depending on how you perform unlocking new car performance kits, models, liveries and events. There’s even a nifty car customisation suite with faux-sponsors so you can deck out your chosen motor in a manner that suits you. This mode really is the star of the show and will take several hours to complete, let alone earn perfect ratings on all scenarios.
The actual driving side of things is also really enjoyable, as you can see from this gameplay video. Scandinavian flicks are easy to pull off with a sharp tug on the handbrake and a foot to the floor, and transitioning from the three different surface types of asphalt, dirt and snow feels legitimately different, causing you to change your driving style accordingly. The beauty of this mode is that you’re getting to try all of the different vehicle classes from the classic Peugeot 504 to the modern master class of engineering that is the Citroën DS3, and the differences between the two in performance are vast and seemingly realistic. The slower vehicles feel chunkier with stiffer handling, while the WRC vehicles are sublimely fast and hug the road with only slight squeals of protest as you pilot them around tight hairpins. There are occasional special events chucked in to vary up proceedings as well, such as runs where you need to knock down polystyrene walls, a la DiRT, but you’ll still always be racing against the clock rather than other cars. The other mode is simply the WRC championship where you can enrol in the three different competitive classes for a whole season, a single event, or just one stage at your leisure.
Overall WRC 3 offers a lot of content, but it’s arguable how much of it is actually new. Milestone have implemented a new engine this year, but it’s remarkable how much it resembles and feels like the old one. Environment and engine sounds too have apparently been given a spruce up, and we will admit that even though the amount of sounds in the environment have increased, but they all sound slightly tinny or not quite pitched correctly. Admittedly these are minor complaints, but like the lenient damage system which still stops short of causing players to retire when there car has too much damage, we’ve voiced these issues before yet they still remain.
Milestone will be making next year’s official game of the World Rally Championship and that’s absolutely fine, but the 2012 edition is missing something to tie it all together and that’s actually quite sad. If you’re looking for a true-to-life rally experience WRC 3 will give you want you want a more accurate experience than Codemasters DiRT however if you want more than that you’d be better off leaving this racer on the shelf….
A solid yet unremarkable entry in the WRC series
Tags: WRC 3
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