One of the side effects of playing a lot of video games for review is finding new genres I never thought I’d like before. Rally racing is definitely something I never thought I’d seek out, but it’s turned into one of my favorite types of racing games. While the Dirt series might be more widely known, the rally game that has me most excited lately has been WRC. I ts latest release, WRC 10, might be just an iterative development from the year before, but this series is shaping up to be the absolute standard for rally racing games—and my favorite rally racing series.
WRC 10 is a racing game and also the only official World Rally Championship licensed racing game. In it, you can take on a number of different challenging races or start a new career in WRC or Junior WRC. If you’re into classic rally, WRC 10 has classic rally races available, too with its expansive 50th anniversary mode which celebrates 50 years of World Rally Championship. You can even face off against other players, and have a real person be your co-driver in co-op mode, or swap controllers in local multiplayer “split-screen” mode. There are a ton of ways to play, but what makes WRC 10 so appealing is its handling—it’s one of the best race sims I’ve played.
I used to hold games like Dirt Rally 2.0 as one of the best feeling racing games, but WRC 10 has closed that gap. I can feel the difference between asphalt and dirt, or whether my tires are worn down or my suspension is shot, all based on how the car handles. This also means that WRC 10 is difficult, especially for those who aren’t used to a “sim” leaning racer. There are a few assists that can be toggled on or off to make handling a little easier. I wish there were a few more options to tweak, however, since you’re only given the options to toggle ABS, traction control, starting assist, and toggling the transmission between automatic and manual. This makes WRC 10 a little harder for more casual race fans to get into.
Not only is WRC 10 one of the best racing sims I’ve played recently, it’s also features some great tracks. Being an officially licensed game, WRC 10 has the luxury of including some real world tracks, and not only are they deviously designed, but they’re fun as hell and feature some amazing scenery. The 50th anniversary mode adds even more classic tracks, and even features you don’t get in the contemporary tracks—like spectators standing dangerously close to the raceway. It’s actually possible to smash into spectators in WRC 10, but there’s no gore or even impact—just an instant track reset.
One of biggest chunks of gameplay in WRC 10 is its career mode. If you’ve played WRC 9, you’ll be familiar with the setup. You have to manage every aspect of your racing career, from agents to mechanics. You’ll have to finagle deals with car manufacturers to make money, and to make those deals you’ll have to have high enough reputation with them—that means winning races. You will be given objectives to meet—both short and long term. Meeting objectives gives you higher reputation, but if you fail too often, that can mean getting kicked from the team. Ouch. There is also an extensive skill tree that you can spend experience points in. Experience is gained from most events, most of the time even if you lose, so there’s always the possibility for incremental improvements to give you that extra push if you’re hitting a wall. If that sounds like a bit much, you’re eased into the career mode with a voice over tutorial that gives you insight while showing you the ropes of managing a rally team.
If you’re interested in a rally career, but don’t want to get involved with all the management aspects, you can choose Season mode. This mode lets you compete in a series of rally events without having to fuss with management between races.
New in WRC 10 is the livery mode. It’s a welcome addition, but the implementation is a little basic. Frustratingly, the majority of its sparse selections seem like they’re locked behind arbitrary progression. If you want to paint your car beyond the initially available colors, you’ll have to jump through all sorts of hoops just to get slightly different shades of those colors. The decal editor isn’t much better. I understand some livery choices being locked behind game progression, but since the vast majority is, I haven’t even gone back in and bothered since my initial attempt at livery editing. It’s too bad, too, because the cars in WRC 10 look phenomenal. This is the first time I’ve played this series on PC rather than console, and I don’t know if it’s my gaming rig or that the graphics have improved significantly since the previous game, but damn does WRC 10 have moments of photo realism. It’s just a good looking game.
WRC 10 has established the series as a real contender in the rally market. If you’re looking for a rally fix, or just a damn good racing game, WRC 10 is it. It has a selection of great tracks with gorgeous scenery and a handful of different ways to play. I enjoy the addition of the livery editor, but with so many options locked away to start, it feels like a hollow inclusion. Most importantly, WRC 10 manages a realistic driving simulation while also managing to be incredibly fun to play—even when I’m getting my ass handed to me.
A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.