The WRC series on Switch feels to us a bit like a hammer made of sponge. We appreciate the effort that went into it and it sort of looks like the real thing, but it never really properly nails it.
After getting off to a rocky start with WRC 8 on the Switch then delivering a slightly improved but still shonky sequel, the series is back with its tenth entry and, once again, it’s a little better without being overwhelmingly brilliant.
On the road, it’s business as usual. As a serious rally simulation, WRC 10 is not the sort of game where you can jump in for the first time and instantly start swinging your car around as if Sega Rally itself had risen from its grave. If you’re new to the series, expect to do badly for a while.
This is a game where your driving skills have to be exceptional, and you’re punished without pity if they aren’t. The slightest clip of an object at the side of the road will send you spinning or tumbling, and any oversteer on sharp bends can have you skidding uncontrollably.
The latter can be eased a little by heading into the options and reassigning the acceleration and brake controls. By default these are mapped to ZR and ZL respectively, but because these aren’t analogue triggers they lack the nuance needed for some of the corners in a serious rally game.
By mapping them to the right analogue stick instead and playing with a twin-stick control method, players can get much better control over acceleration and braking, making it easier to navigate tricky corners without spinning out. To do this, though, you also have to deactivate the ability to turn the camera around with the right stick. Look, it’s a whole thing.
The slippery handling combined with the game’s exceptionally long courses means there’s quite a difficulty curve, then, and there’ll be plenty of moments where you’ll be turning the air bluer than Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza when you hit a ditch seven minutes into a run and tumble backside over bonnet.
Once you eventually get the hang of things – which, like we say, can take a while – you’ll find that WRC can be extremely satisfying. When you start finally putting in reasonable times that challenge those of your competitors, you really do feel like you’ve accomplished something.
There’s one thing that really can’t be ignored, though, and if you’ve been perceptive while scrolling through this review you might have already noticed it. As in previous years, this is not an attractive game. In fact, while we played it we kept saying to ourselves: “I remember last year’s one looked bad, but did it actually look this bad?”
Sure enough, we re-downloaded WRC 9 and captured some screens from that, then matched the car, track, turn and weather in WRC 10, and in the handful of situations we tested, WRC 10 looks noticeably worse than its already ugly predecessor.
Quite why this is the case isn’t really clear. Perhaps the graphical detail was dialled back even further in an attempt to improve performance, but whatever the reason there does appear to be a visual downgrade here. We’d need to spend a lot more time running comparisons to say this definitively, but based on our own brief tests that certainly seems to be the case.
In docked mode it just about passes for acceptable, but play the game in handheld mode and the graphical issues are so severe that they provide a huge distraction while driving. Not only is the frame rate rougher than a cheese grater made of sandpaper, it’s also hard to concentrate on a crucial, lengthy run when trees and other scenery are appearing 10 feet in front of you as if there’s a glitch in the Matrix and it’s constantly trying to catch up with you.
If you can put up with a game whose environments are almost always grossly underwhelming, there’s actually a lot more on offer here than last year’s game, which itself was already pretty stacked with content. As well as the return of the in-depth career mode (which has barely changed much) there’s also a brand new mode celebrating the 50th anniversary of the World Rally Championship, which lets you take on a series of classic courses from different key years in the sport’s history.
Naturally, rally nerds are going to get the most out of this feature, and if the thought of driving round the 1974 Sanremo track or taking on part of the 1992 New Zealand rally has you dribbling in your driving overalls, you’re in for an absolute treat here. Even if you don’t have such a strong affinity for the sport and the words ‘Finland 1981’ and ‘Sweden 2004’ might as well be Eurovision events to you, the fact that this mode significantly increases the total number of tracks is still cause for celebration.
Last year’s games featured a total of 107 courses, taking in 13 locations. This time, with all the real 2021 WRC stages, plus bonus Belgium and Wales stages from older games, plus all the anniversary content, you’re looking at a massive 142 courses spread across 19 locations. Given that so many of these courses are extremely long given the nature of the sport that means there must be over 1000km of track in there.
This extends to the cars, too. Whereas WRC 9 featured a total of 22 different models covering a mixture of modern and classic vehicles, the extended focus on the history of the sport this time around means even more legendary cars are available to drive, bringing the total number to 35. So if you really do want to pretend it’s Sega Rally, you can now bust out the ‘90s era Toyota Celica GT-Four and shout “LONG EASY RIGHT MAYBE” at the screen. Except Sega Rally probably looked better, to be fair.
WRC 10 contains significantly more content than its already packed predecessor, and can provide extremely satisfying rally gameplay once you get used to its (accurately) unforgiving handling. This is let down, however, by the game's visuals, which are tolerable while docked but look awful when playing in handheld. As long as you can put up with how it looks, there should be enough here to keep you busy for months.
The screenshots don’t look that bad?!?!?
I take your word for it mind you
Will they have preorder bonus that will not be honored as previous WRC series??
Why is no one talking about the stealth closure of NUS, Wii, and DSi shops? It's been days already.
So... Joy-Con drift is like a feature for this game?
@Stocksy They look like early PS3 to me and even some of the car models look weirdly blurry
Edit: Just watched some video footage and I might have been too nice, this is definitely a lot uglier than the devil's DMs
I thought I was looking at Sega Rally on the Saturn for a second 😅
Been playing this game a lot since yesterday and I'm really enjoying it. Swap the controls to the analogue sticks and this game is very good. It also handles much better than WRC 9.
Let's be honest no one's buying a switch for good graphics
Switch up did a great review of this earlier in the week on YouTube, they showed how the visuals were worse than the previous version.
@a1904 yeah my mistake is going off the stills above which look passable if everything else is good
Colin McRae Rally 2.0 on Dreamcast is still the best Rally game to me.
@AlienX They haven't really been serving much purpose for years now except allowing you to redownload purchased titles but that's it. Did you mean that? if so then my bad.
@Would_you_kindly graphics generally don’t bother me, but slow loading times are really annoying. It wasn’t a big deal even a few years ago, but it 2022. This is the one thing I don’t care for with no real hardware upgrade in over five years.
@rockodoodle they don't bother me either when the games are decently priced when they're £50-£60 I expect them to be up to modern standards
i think the wrc for PSP was better, guess not from the same company
@Would_you_kindly yeah, that’s why steam deck is a perfect portable console for this games, where you don’t have to play an inferior port. Switch is good too, for pokemon games and other first party.
I wish Sega Rally and Daytona USA could join Virtua Racing on Switch.
Does the game still have the metling trees from WRC 9?
If not I don't think I can play this lol.
@RubyCarbuncle Well, I can't expect everyone to care.
But the Wii Shop being down means more than "no more redownload ability" it means you can't view the electronic manual of every WiiWare game, some could even have info that you can't find elsewhere. Now every WiiWare game has a link that leads to nothing.
You can't system update without a disc.
Homebrew users are pushed to a corner since they can't access NUS to download system files legally anymore and would have to rely on specific game discs if they want to use certain homebrew. (Or to download those files illegally.) This is even more problematic with vWii which doesn't have a disc equivalent for those system files.
But there are even more advantages to NUS, like using Dolphin legally.
While games like Wolfenstein 2 and Witcher 3 are impressive on the Switch.
"It's uglier than the Devil's DMs"
They look worse, I can tell that much because I have them.
Wish Sega would just give us a port of the original Sega Rally arcade
Yep. It seems that nobody is able to bring a quality rally game to the Switch. Even though there's been great ones for PS3, PS2, and Dreamcast, noo the Switch is not powerful enough.
This is one I would really like a demo for
Those loading times are a killer. Graphics aren’t an issue when you’re just striving to keep on the road.
The One thing that keeps me off of this: loading times.
I never understand the “R2 and L2 aren’t analogue” critique.
I’ve been feathering throttling with rapid pressing of the button since f-zero on the snes, and I haven’t come across a racing game yet where that doesn’t work just fine.
I’m also not one to invest in fancy wheels, peddles, and go for all out sim experience, but neither are 90+% of people playing racing games.
@N64-ROX I wish they would port Dirt to the switch. That’s playable on laptops weaker than the switch.
Thanks for the review! Really happy this released on Switch for those without the luxury of a PS4 or 5. I just bought this for PS5 for 23.99 with the PS Plus discount tacked on. It’s a wonderful game that certainly benefits from 60fps and analog accelerate/brake.
If the Switch is your only way to play it though, this is certainly the best WRC-branded game I think of them all. The physics have come a long way from the PS2 era.
But if you can get this game elsewhere, I’d recommend that. The replays look wonderful and feature some of the best and most convincing dust trails I’ve seen in a racing game yet on a graphically boosted console.
I’ve only done a handful of races so far on PS5 but I’m loving it even more than 9 and really can tell they put a lot of work into the game to get it “just right.”
So far on Switch, Rush Rally 3 is the best bang for your buck I think. Sense of speed, check. 60fps, check. Tight controls, check.
It’s such a great game and it sounds like it might do it better on switch than WRC 10 on switch.
At first the screenshots looked pretty good but then I started looking at the trees…
Gamefreak makes racing games now?
i totally agree! i beat everything on gran turismo 1 with a stock digital ps1 controller. feather city lol.
i wouldnt turn down analogue triggers but half the time i appreciate digital l2 and r2.
There's several high quality racing games on Switch (Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed, Cruis'n Blast, Asphalt, etc) that I have little patience for games with crap graphics like this.
Not that graphics are everything to me. I enjoy Pokémon Arceus Legends, for example and the graphics don't bother me one bit. Bur that's an open world game from a dev known to be less skilled. Racing games should be the best looking games on the system. If you can't make a decent looking racing game on Switch, I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested.
The switch really need analogue triggers instead of digital triggers. Even the gamecube controller had analogue triggers.
Will this work with the hori Mario wheel/pedals? It’s dug out since we playing Mario kart again, I’d like to play a realistic racer with it
Those trees are stolen from PLA? Tbh, i don't care about trees when i'm racing, will pick this up.
❌️I looked at the screenshots of this on the E-Shop and thought it looked bad.
Back to 'Grid' then...
It's a shame the visuals have had a downgrade, but a consistent framerate is more important IMO, especially in a game needing fast reactions like that. What a shame. Though I will say I have V-Rally 4 which I picked up for £8.99 the other day and it has clearly been patched as most of the framerate issues are gone. It's smooth 99% of the time in rally stages and 95% of the time in rallycross. The resolution is dynamic and clearly tanks when there are lots of cars on screen but it doesn't last for long and honestly, in handheld, I think the game looks OK.
Not good, but OK. So maybe they will patch this. Considering it was already delayed though I would expect more.
Looks like an original xbox title, I think Colin McCrae actually looked much better.
Surely they should do what Grid Autosport did and still offer the analog trigger compatibility with Gamecube or third party controllers that can do it. If it's already inherit in the code's driving control inputs to do several deadzones for analog input, why not just update to offer those options?
For whatever crazy reason, the game isn't using motion blur and might not even be antialiasing, in which case, everything will automatically feel slow and look awful.
sees the first screen shot
Game looks fine to me...
scrolls down more
@Stocksy Look at it on something besides a phone.
Seriously- looks like a PC game from the 90's or a PS2/Xbox.
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