WRC Generations Review – A Fitting Farewell

WRC Generations is a capstone of sorts for developer Kylotonn’s time as the steward of the WRC games – a largely successful term that has stretched across 7 years and several above average racing games (and WRC 6). While it’s easy to say that the WRC games never quite cracked into the top-tier of the genre, it’s also just as easy to argue that the consistent style and upward trajectory of quality for the series has been received well by fans at large, especially with the last couple of installments, and thus, WRC Generations fittingly aims to wrap up Kylotonn’s time with the IP with a nice bow, and with the best, most comprehensive game possible. While I would contest that the game does largely succeed in this mission, it’s also true that some lingering issues that have dogged the WRC games for years remain unresolved.

Racing in WRC Generations feels about as good as the last couple of games, as the arcade-style approach from 5, 6, and 7 has found a much more satisfying middle ground with subsequent entries including this one. and if you’ve gotten used to that more recent mix, you’ll take right to it in this latest outing. Generations makes some slight adjustments while largely sticking to the formula. One of the adjustments in Generations certainly seems to be a more intuitive traction system, where the percentage of snow or rain on the ground and the type and placement of your tires is more important than ever before. Despite some muscle memory from racing on some of these tracks carrying over, this new degree of sensitivity will shake things up. Whether that is a good or bad development for the series will largely depend on your tastes, but I ended up going back and forth on it a bit personally.

"Despite some muscle memory from racing on some of these tracks carrying over, this new degree of sensitivity will shake things up. Whether that is a good or bad development for the series will largely depend on your tastes, but I ended up going back and forth on it a bit personally."

On one hand, the more pronounced control I had over how much I want to slide or stick to the ground certainly adds depth, but on the other, you can end up being punished greatly for even small miscalculations, which, to me, is counter to the kinetic soul of the racing in the series which has always rewarded its players most during races and for making the correct choices on the track, not so much for spending copious amounts of time in preparation menus making sure everything is perfectly tuned for the upcoming event. Still yet, the three primary difficulty settings and handful of other game-wide modifiers can alleviate this quite a bit, but in doing so, WRC Generations makes a common mistake among modern legacy racing game franchises by trading in a bit too much of its own identity in exchange for being a more well-rounded game.  As so often happens when this path is taken, the game clearly tries to please a larger audience at the potential expense of those who have supported the series up to this point. It’s not enough to drag the entire experience down by any means, but it is a small thorn in the side of an otherwise reliably competent racing experience.

Other small thorns include some stability issues that lead to me having a few hard crashes at seemingly random points in the game. No one occasion seemed particularly hectic or intense to me, so these crashes were a complete surprise and perhaps that makes them even more worrisome. Another issue that continues to linger in the WRC series is the lack of meaningful difference between too many of the vehicles. While the selection of cars is large in number, and the different classes do vary pretty well, too many of them are just too similar to really make you look forward to experimenting within whatever class of vehicle fits the event you’re in best.

All that said, most of the fundamentals that have been routinely polished with every entry have continued to improve in this one. The vast and beautiful environments are better than they’ve ever been with enhanced weather effects and denser flora, the pronounced differences in track type from pavement to gravel to dirt all hit better than ever with the PS5’s DualSense making you feel every pebble and speck of dirt getting kicked up, and the well-designed pace notes that keep you informed about what to expect with peripheral info that doesn’t make you take your eyes off the road like a minimap would.

These things quickly become the bedrock of WRC Generations and it’s good to see them in excellent shape here, although the DualSense sounds blaring out of the speaker might be a little too pronounced on their default setting for my taste. Still, with all of that, on top of the series’ best iteration of crew management, livery editor, and tech upgrade trees ever, we see a compelling package take shape for those that click with the slightly floaty but still somewhat realistic WRC-style of racing. And despite the hard crashes, I generally encountered very little frame rate drops or any other sort of visual oddity.

"While the selection of cars is large in number, and the different classes do vary pretty well, too many of them are just too similar to really make you look forward to experimenting within whatever class of vehicle fits the event you’re in best."

For the most part, WRC Generations seems to round out the ups and downs of the previous few games with an arguably ideal combination of what worked best in recent installments. While I wish it went further than surface level with its upgrades, it has by no means phoned in this entry. Its gameplay is just deep enough for big-time enthusiasts to justify spending dozens of hours in, while its learning curve is just shallow enough for more casual or arcade style racing fans to get plenty of enjoyment out of it too.

While it does ultimately pay the price of probably not wow-ing most people in either camp, it does handle the task of maximizing the knowledge the developer has clearly gained from the past few games while minimizing the price paid for the few wrinkles they were never quite able to totally iron out. Had the stability and variety been stepped up just a bit more, it would be a stronger recommendation, but as it is, I certainly wouldn’t ward you off if WRC Generations is something that you’re interested in. If you’re familiar with the series and generally know what to expect, then this is arguably the apex of the series up to this point but even if you’re new to the series, I still think there’s plenty of reason to give it a shot with some moderated expectations.

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.



* This article was originally published here

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