What A Difference One Year Makes

Over the past few months, I’ve been quietly keeping my eye on WRC6. For awhile, there wasn’t much in the way of preview material that came out, and to be honest, this had me concerned. You might remember that last year I wrote some rather critical comments about Kylotonn Games’ first attempt at a rally game, WRC5. I received some flack for those words as some believed them to be coming from a “Dirt Rally Snob” who couldn’t appreciate a less hardcore rally title. The truth is that I enjoy a quality “arcade” rally game just as much as a “hardcore” game such as Dirt Rally or Richard Burns Rally. One example of this is the first series of WRC titles produced by Evolution Studios. I imported a PS2 from Japan specifically to play these games because they were never released in NTSC format here in the USA. I still have that PS2 hooked up to the monitor in my racing rig to play WRC4 (the old one) because it remains the best official WRC game to this day. Was WRC4 a “hardcore simulation”? Not at all! However, it’s beautiful attention to detail captured the atmosphere of the 2004 WRC season and provided a level of immersion that I have rarely felt playing a video game. The problem with WRC5 wasn’t that it was an “arcade” title. No, the problem was that it was a weak game in almost every aspect: stage design, physics, sound, graphics, and most of all, atmosphere. It was for this reason that I refunded WRC5 shortly after I purchased it.

So that brings us to this year. For a long time, I wasn’t even thinking about WRC6. After being so disappointed with WRC5 I didn’t give the game’s announcement or launch trailer more than a passing glance. I just assumed that like many other developers, Kylotonn would churn out another insipid, barely updated version of last year’s game that left me so underwhelmed. That was until I saw this video over at TeamVVV:

 

What do you think? I must say, I’m pretty impressed! There are several things about this video that have dramatically increased my interest in this game. First of all, Alan mentions several times during the video that the developers listened to the feedback they received on last year’s game and made changes based on that information. Now… I know that almost every game developer SAYS that they are going to do this, but very few of them ACTUALLY DO IT. I have to be honest, the content of this 9 minute video is proof that Kylotonn ACTUALLY LISTENED! Check out the design of the Rally Finland stage shown in the video. No, it is not a 1:1 replica of the real road like what is found in Dirt Rally, but I must say that it is a very faithful representation of the character of Neste Rally Finland. All the elements of the real-life rally such as crests, jumps, ditches, and rock faces make it into this stage. It may not an actual stage in Rally Finland, but it has the FEEL of a stage in Rally Finland, and it was that FEELING that was so lacking in WRC5. One other thing… did you notice the length of that stage? It took Sebastien Chardonnet about 5 minutes to complete with no mistakes so it had to be over 10km long. Didn’t we ask for longer stages after playing WRC5? It looks like someone listened!

That brings me to my second point. The fact that a real rally driver, Sebastien Chardonnet, was able to play this game without much difficulty means that the physics must MAKE SENSE. That was something that really bothered me about WRC5. Yes, the physics could be considered “arcade”, but they were also very confusing as well when I tried to drive the game like a real car. If the game retained the weird physics of WRC5, there would be no way that Sebastien could drive as smoothly as he did. No, the game may not have the hardcore physics of Dirt Rally, but that’s OK… that’s why we have Dirt Rally. What this game does appear to have, however, are approachable physics that still hold enough application to real life rallying that a professional driver could get his head around them.

Will these changes be good enough to overcome the disappointment of WRC5? Only time will tell. All I can say right now is that Kylotonn Games have made an honest effort to listen to their customers and for that reason, they have won back my business. WRC6 may not be the perfect rally game, but this footage shows me that Kylotonn have righted many of the wrongs found in WRC5, and for that reason, I’ll be buying WRC6 when it comes out in October. At that time, I’ll be sure to let you know how it plays!

 

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