Rally games used to be somewhat of a crutch for me. I loved playing them all, as opposed to simply focusing on one particular series. With the introduction of DiRT this generation, much of that has changed. In fact, most developers have ceased to even bother competing with Codemasters’ acclaimed series, and for good reason. Developer Milestone is no stranger to the genre, and their latest entry in the WRC series brings a lot of great features to the table, but it fails to deliver on several others, leaving it feeling underwhelming at times.
WRC breaks out the tradition right off the bat with a pretty standard career mode. I picked a name and portrait for my racer, jumped into one of several events to move up the ranks, and unlocked new cars and upgrades. This is definitely a trimmed-down version of career mode from other rally titles. The customization never felt personal, and the races were simply special stage, even more special stage and multi-race events. The only mixture comes from gate events that felt more like mini-games. These events are at least different, and add a nice change of pace from the rest of the mode.
Career mode is definitely the bulk of the game, but there is also a single race option. This consists of, pretty much what the name implies, racing one track with a choice of car. That is it. There are no other offline ways to play the game, and that was disappointing. The main menu has three boxes to choose from, and from that moment going forward, I felt like this experience was missing something; almost like it wasn’t a full game.
Hopping online is much like the single race option, but of course with other players. There is also an option to play locally, which is always welcome. The online feels very bare-bones, much like the rest of the game. The community was nearly a ghost town on both the PS3 and the Vita. Considering the game has been out in Europe for a while, and the lack of appeal in the west, it is certainly no shock.
One thing that WRC doesn’t lack though is content within these modes. There are 83 tracks, 50 drivers and 37 different cars. The track diversity was easily my favorite aspect. The traditional surfaces apply with tarmac, dirt and of course mud. The mixture of these elements is what makes a great rally game, and WRC delivers on that account. Sadly the feedback on said tracks was not what I would have liked. Bumps and terrain don’t bounce the car in the way you might expect.
Visually the game does a moderate job delivering some nicely modeled cars and tracks. The foliage on the sidelines leaves a bit to be desired, but the frame rate does remain solid throughout. Audio consists of standard turn-by-turn robotic voices and a muted soundtrack. Nothing stands out about any of it. Menus are minimal and sloppy and the overall look of the game just screams lack of polish. I was really hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but just wasn’t.
WRC also lands on Vita at the same time and one would think this was an opportunity for cross-save, and taking your experience on the go. Sadly that will never happen. WRC 3 on Vita is a mess of a port lacking the PS3 versions career mode, and pretty much anything to justify its asking price. There is no cross-save functionality, nor any reason to really buy both versions. If you only own a Vita and are looking for a racing game, there are better experiences in its paltry library. The Vita version of this game is a major disappointment, and one that should be avoided at all costs.
WRC 3 may have a professional sounding name, but the game is more of a disappointment across the board. The amount of content is both impressive and disappointing at the same time. Nothing here will drag players away from better experiences elsewhere, and the sheer lack of modes just makes it feel like a rushed effort. I really wanted to like WRC 3 much more than I did, due to the fact that I am a sucker for the genre, but sadly it is nearly impossible to recommend to anyone without mentioning competitors in the process.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.