Kylotonn Games' final official WRC game isn't the polished swan song we had hoped for, but rather a game full of disappointments.
For seven years, the French game developer Kylotonn Games has produced and released seven rally games based on the official WRC license and with this edition, the journey ends for KT Racing. They will now lose the license on January 1, 2023, which will then be taken over by Codemasters, and thus WRC Generations will be the last rally title that Kylotonn Games runs. A swan song. A final farewell.
With that in mind, I would have liked to seen most of the annoying shortcomings that last year's version of WRC 10 suffered from fixed, but at the same time, the amount of major measures that can be implemented in ten months is of course extremely limited. However, I was expecting a better game than WRC 10 and not the same product, again. Which is very much what Generations is. This is almost exactly the same game as WRC 10 and thus in a fair world shouldn't even be called a sequel. Not even close. Generations is a minimal DLC package, at best, which could be given out for free to everyone who bought WRC 10, and therein of course lies a significant problem.
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Let me start with the car physics, which I feel have become progressively worse since WRC 8 and although it feels like KT tried to find more feel in the tires here with better "simulation" of friction, it is at the same time more slippery and wobbly than ever, which leads to the fact that I, as an experienced rally gamer who has spent 1000s of hours in about 20 rally games over the years, sways around on the road almost as if I were drunk. The force feedback support for both Fanatec CSL DD and Fanatec DD2 is a little bit better since WRC 10 and this time I can feel where the centre of gravity of the car is and isn't but this is not a simulator and it doesn't intend to simulate how a real rally car feels, whatever the developers say. The almost four-year-old Dirt Rally 2.0 is significantly better in terms of how to simulate speed, friction and gravity.
In terms of the amount of content, KT Games has taken all the content from WRC 8, 9 and 10 and bundled it together in what should perhaps be best described as "Best of KT Games' WRC" more than anything else. The career mode and the multiplayer portion from WRC 10 are included here, just like all the stages, and all vintage cars from all three games. A ranked game mode has been added where KT Games posts weekly challenges online that everyone can participate in and then be judged and ranked in, just like in Dirt Rally 2.0 and these may keep Generations feeling fresh for longer than was the case with the previous game.
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I've played quite a bit of the four predecessors, of course, which meant that I initially skipped the tutorial part and the driving school, however, I threw myself into the career mode which offers the same experience as in WRC 10. And it's just not a good game mode. Unfortunately. The bugs from WRC 10 are included here and the problems pile up quickly. Just like in last year's game, I crush my opposition during certain stretches with bizarre numbers like a 122 second margin, while on the next stretch I can end up 48 seconds behind the computer controlled opponents even if I drive cleanly with good good pace and without major mistakes. It feels arbitrary to say the least and frankly as unrealistic as it is buggy and this together with the fact that the atmosphere and rally feel is anonymous and rigid at best means that I get tired of "Career mode" quickly.
Unfortunately, the sound profile is even worse, again. The sound in this game is downright horrible and after having a great deal of patience in previous years to give KT Games time to renovate things like this, I now of course have zero patience left. The sound from the vast majority of the cars this year also sounds like a stick mixer and the fact that they have now raised the volume of the gravel hitting the undercarriage makes it sound even worse than WRC 10, which had lousy audio itself. That raw, mechanical, metallic, loud screaming volume from the real rally crew is completely missing and the fact that the studio chose not to improve this in three years is just sad.
Another part that is not improved here and which I also consider to be downright embarrassingly bad is the presentation and the menus, which for PCs are often strangely difficult to use and lack complete mouse support, which means that you have to sit and navigate with the keyboard in order to be able to use the mouse. It's so blatantly obvious that this is a console game, through and through, and that this has been converted to PC and the fact that the developers haven't fixed the horrible mouse support plaguing the series over the last three years makes me sigh, loudly. The PlayStation 5 version is both better looking than the PC game (even though both versions are ugly) and has menus that work better and don't mess up, but technically it would be downright lying to call this anything other than "last gen".
The graphics for PS5 are reminiscent of an early PS4 game with little collision programming and low-resolution textures, and for PC this is so badly optimised that it is barely possible to play on a three-screen setup via an Omen 45L with an AMD Ryzen 9, 64GB of working memory and a AMD 6950XT Red Devil. Although I can easily run Assetto Corsa Competizione, Automobilista 2, or Dirt Rally 2.0 on "Ultra" across three screens with at least 70 frames per second in screen refresh, I am forced to set WRC Generations to "medium" and turn off loads of post-processing effects and despite this I get at most 24-30 frames per second, which is lousy. There is no real "triple screen" support, there is no VR and the graphics themselves are, as I said, anything but impressive. The car models are inferior to those in Dirt Rally 2.0 and the damage done to them when you crash looks like they were taken from the PlayStation 3 generation.
The only thing I really like about WRC generations is the stages. The stretches here are amazing. KT has created loads and loads of wonderful tracks over the years and are now offering over 100 in this latest game. They're high quality, challenging, fun, unique rally tracks with superb variety, more so than any other rally game that has ever featured. Of course, this would have mattered more if the driving feeling and the graphics had been better, and if the sound had been anything other than bad, but it is as it is, and WRC generations is a concoction of three rally games with weaknesses that I can no longer turn a blind eye to. On January 1st 2023, the Dirt Rally 2.0 team at Codemasters will take over the WRC license, which I have been looking forward to for years now. I believe and guess that even their first game will be significantly better than this, which is ultimately a very mediocre racing experience.
5 / 10
Fantastic tracks. Loads of tracks.
Nasty career mode full of bugs. Clumsy driving feel. Spongy wobbly car physics. Half-assed sense of speed. Lousy engine sounds. Old graphics.