If you are a fan of rally racers, then you will find WRC 5 barebones compared to other rally racers. But it has everything to be enjoyed fully. The core concept is great, allowing you to get satisfaction from mastering each turn. However, you may find yourself mastering a bunch of turns, which could become a problem. The game has a simulation racer-style look when it comes to cars and licensed drivers, while the driving itself is more arcade-style.
You will notice that different terrain affect the handling differently. Tarmac, for example, provides traction and makes it harder to power slide tight turns. Gravel, by contrast, gives less traction and allows for easy power sliding. The choice of terrains includes tarmac, gravel, dirt, sand, and snow, which change based on weather conditions.
Even with changes in weather conditions, controlling the car is quite simple. There’s no real focus on when exactly you let off the gas, hit the brakes or accelerate. The only real requirement is paying attention to the speed. Also, you are not able to customize the simulator. You can change stability and braking assists, but they do not make much impact on the gameplay.
When it comes to difficulty, in comparison with other driving games, it’s not a real challenge. We found that the only way we did not win a race on medium difficulty is if we ran right into the wall or flew off track. This put a damper on the enjoyment derived from performing corner-cutting moves that make rally racing interesting. They do provide replays, but don’t expect them to be as good as in other racers. You’re not able to rewind to a certain spot, instead just getting reset to a predetermined checkpoint.
When you begin the career mode, you start in the WRC Junior circuit and move up the ranks as you win seasons. Basically, if you win the list of races in a tier, you get a faster car and new courses. You are given a couple of days between races to make repairs, but there is not much strategy required in this area, same like with car customization. The main choice is about the kind of treads used, and that just means matching them to the terrain type.
The tracks are decent, with 13 different locations from around the world. Each track has five unique stages. The tracks consist of a smart and challenging combination of turns and terrains. To make it better, the locations also have a unique feel to them, from gentle rolling hills to Hairpin Mountains in Mexico.
There is supposed to be an online version, but you may have a hard time finding a single online game to play, which lowers the longevity of the game. The visuals look flat when compared to more modern games. When in motion, it looks decent, but the details of the crowd and the weather are lacking. The sound effects are even worse than the visuals, engine sounds are weak, and the co-driver sounds like a robot that often loses track of where you are.
WRC 5 is a fully playable racer, but it lacks a lot of standard features common in the genre. If you’re considering a simulation or arcade style racer, there are plenty other games that have more features, look and sound better.