During an interview with Gamereactor this summer, Alain Jarniou from Kylotonn reiterated that he and his team had taken note of the feedback from last year's WRC game and would apply it to WRC 6. Among other things, they had heard loud and clear that the roads in WRC 5 were too flat, and this time they vowed to fix that. It would appear, however, that they interpreted the feedback in a different way to what the fans intended.
As it turns out, WRC 6 is far from the revolution promised in said interview, to the point where the title "WRC 5.2" would be more appropriate than "WRC 6". Sure, they heard the feedback about flat roads, but their solution was to only fix this visually. The roads give the impression that they are bumpier than before, but in reality they still feel just as flat. They look bumpy, but it's only make-up. This in turn means that the feeling when you drive is more or less the same on a gravel road in Wales as it is on asphalt in Germany. This was one of the biggest flaws in last year's game, and we were gutted to learn that the problem had survived for another season, in spite of promises made.
Luckily there are some more positive changes here as well. The number of "Chuck Norris Bushes", by which we mean relatively soft objects that still somehow bring your car to a full stop in a matter of milliseconds, have been reduced drastically. Also, the career mode produces more varied results on the leaderboards this year, too, and there have been vast improvements made to offline multiplayer. Split-screen for two players is once again possible, and up to eight players can enjoy "Hot Laps" together. These are highly sought after features that Kylotonn has managed to deliver this time.
The introduction of "Arnold Schwarzenegger Fences", on the other hand, is something we're not that impressed with. They belong to the same family as the "Chuck Norris Bushes", but luckily they're not as much of a nuisance. They work as astonishingly well anchored fences that can easily hold back the force of a car hitting them at 120 mph, and when this happens you are sort of pushed back into the right direction. Even though this can be helpful at times, it's obviously highly unrealistic.
On the visual side, WRC 6 is not a grand prize winner either. If you dive into the replay feature you can find instances where the game looks beautiful, but this is rarely the case elsewhere. That being said we would rather have a smooth framerate than ultra realistic graphics, so we're not all that bothered, although we can see why some people would be. Thankfully this year's game runs better and more smoothly than before, making the poor visuals easier to accept.
The co-driver, however, continues to annoy and frustrate. Getting the notes for your co-driver correctly is something most rally games struggle with, and WRC 6 doesn't exactly deliver on this front. The timing is somewhat better than last year, but it still happens far too often that the notes communicated verbally don't match the symbols on-screen. The co-driver also has this annoying tendency to raise their voice to heart-attack-inducing levels, hollering "brake" at you out of nowhere on occasions.
Another problem is how Kylotonn use the World Rally Championship license, or rather how they don't. They have access to the full circus, making it all the more disappointing to see omissions. While a rally in real life consists of over 20 stages, WRC 6 only offers five to eight. These are in turn far shorter than their real-life counterparts, and we were disappointed to see that famous attractions such as Colin's Crest in Rally Sweden were not included. We can understand that some players would be overwhelmed by a fully fledged rally experience, but the core fans still deserve the opportunity. After all, the name of this game is WRC 6.
In reality the name doesn't give this racer the weight it needs, and the differences over WRC 5 are lacking in both quality and quantity. There are improvements here, no doubt, but the game is still outrun by the likes of Dirt Rally and Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, and by several car lengths. The driving physics in WRC 6 are also simply not good enough to compete with the big guys. The game can be entertaining, don't get us wrong, but whether you like simulators or arcade racers, there are better options out there.
So, when it comes down to it, we're still dreaming of an official rally game that really rubs shoulders with the best games on the market. We're dreaming of one where the creators of Dirt Rally are given both the WRC and the WRX licences. That would have made for one awesome game, as Codemasters are in a league of their own as far as the car physics go. The fact of the matter is we're taking a hard right and heading straight back to Dirt Rally now, given that our work on this review is done.