Rally racing games have always been one of my favorite genres despite my lack of skill trying to navigate tight hairpins and avoid barreling off steep cliffs. The adrenaline rush you get especially when racing in certain views is second to none. So here we are with WRC 8 from Big Ben Interactive and KT Racing and it definitely delivers on the adrenaline visuals and plenty of options to play through. I’ve played through WRC 5, 6 and 7 and enjoyed them thoroughly to this point. Yes, we have the DiRT franchise too, but this offers up the same amount of fun as the veteran big boy on the block. Why should WRC 8 be in your racing library? Well, let me just tell you.

First off, the visuals are absolutely amazing. The weather effects are stunning with driving rain, fog, bright sunshine glaring your windshield to hazardous puddles ready to throw you off the course. I love seeing the mud and water fly up over the car when you nosedive a puddle. The tracks and environments are second to none and you’ll be racing in venues across the world. Rainforests to snowy landscapes are waiting for you to try and tame. I can’t say enough about the visuals, but just believe me when I say its good stuff and honestly second to none. It gives Forza a run for its money, and in my opinion its better than Forza when it comes to weather effects.

The menu system is simple and easy to navigate. It uses a tablet style screen setup with tiles for each mode, your profile and online play. You’ll also have a last activity tile that allows you to jump back into whatever it was you were last doing during your last play session. Everything is right at your fingertips and I think these designs are the best to have for any game. Sometimes things can get buried when you try to get to fancy.

Gameplay settings give you a wide range of options to adjust in order to make the game play to your style and preference. There are options for changing your assists, transmission damage, AI opponent difficulty, Color Blind mode, your HUD preferences and even adjusting your Co-driver’s calls.

The game modes available to you in the main hub include both single player and multiplayer options. For single player, you can choose to start a career and make your way from the Junior WRC up to the full-blown professional WRC level. There is a season mode that simplifies things a bit by taking out the crew management option for those that just want to race to a championship. You’ll also have a training mode, test area and a quickplay option.

Career mode is pretty extensive. You’ll start out as a rookie in the Junior WRC and have to work your way up through the ranks to get to the WRC tier. Each season you go through will give you objectives to complete and the races will increase. You partake in multiple stage events at each location accumulating an overall time for the rally.That in turn results in standings points on your progression towards season champion. There is a bit of customization in the career mode and you can tune your car to your liking. There is an ability tree that allows you to make your team better whether its in the garage or on the marketing team. However you deep you want to take the career mode is up to you really. But to be truly successful you have to delve into every aspect. If that’s not your thing stick to season mode.

The multiplayer aspect of the game gives you a few options as well. There is a split screen mode for those that choose to keep the racing in the household. You also have the online mode where you can join a lobby to compete against others or create your own lobby. Events will always be running that allow you to post a time to the leaderboard and you can see how much time remains in the challenge right on the tile or when it begins.

Ok, that’s grand and all but you want to hear about the gameplay, right? How’s the driving? Is it arcade or simulation? Well, let me just say the gameplay is stellar. You’ll feel like you are tearing up the gravel or sliding across the snow-covered ice. The game feels really good regardless of which camera view you use. Speaking of which there are multiple views from the chase-cam to an in-car cam which can be exhilarating in itself. You’ll have to feather the gas and brakes and never catch yourself turning while going off a hill or you’ll most likely spin out. It really is all about touch and timing in this game to be successful. Try not to oversteer but then again try not to understeer. Honestly, if you have a wheel that is probably your best experience but a gamepad works just fine.

There are 14 different location in the game that offer up different challenges and surfaces. You’ll have mostly your standard rallies, but there are head to head Rally Cross events from time to time as well. The Ai is tough, even on the easiest level and you’ll have to be on point with your driving skills to really have a chance at reaching the podium. Expect all the things you would in a rally race, like penalties for going well off the track or into a crowd. Repairs can be done when allowed between stages which is pretty standard with the sport. You can incur penalties from that too though if you go over the allotted time.

Honestly, I didn’t really have any issue with the game and it was a solid experience from the start. I do wish I had a little info on how far ahead or behind I am during legs of stages, but that’s just a personal preference. Sometimes I have felt like I was driving a stage perfectly (all green legs) only to lose places at the end with a miscue. But outside of that, the game is fantastic. If you enjoy rally racing games then you should have this game in your library. Sure, DiRT seems to be the King of the Road in this category and for good reason since the guys at Codemasters have been doing this a long time. But I really think WRC can be placed on that same pedestal. Do yourself a favor and just buy it.

Score: 92 / 100

*** A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for streaming and review purposes.

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