With so many racing games available, any new game coming to the market ‘rally’ needs to impress straight away in order to attract attention. Unfortunately for World Rally Championship 3, it drifts off the radar, and I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn’t realised it has already been released. Rally games attract an acquired taste, and while Codemasters Dirt series has managed to be a success, it all comes down to how enjoyable the game is to play. So how enjoyable is WRC 3 to play?
First of all, if you are a novice to the game don’t expect any favours by way of a tutorial as there aren’t any. So much so that if you were a complete novice, and hadn’t heard of a rally game, you’d be wondering why throughout your driving experience someone is shouting “left 2”, “right 4”, “handbrake right, water”. That said if you’re also wondering why there isn’t any other cars on the track then it’s safe to assume WRC 3 isn’t for you.
WRC 3 is split into different modes in order to try and capture different aspects of rallying. I like to think of the modes as ‘mode yawn’ and ‘mode less yawn’. ‘Mode yawn’ is also known as the WRC Experience and it’s here that you’ll get the pure rallying experience. All the official race countries including Britain (more specifically Wales), all of which have different stages contained within. You can of course fix your car up in between stages as long as you’re within your allotted sixty minutes of time. For example fixing the damaged body to the car - a regular occurrence in my case - may take twenty five minutes of your virtual time. That’s a lot of rallying and it can certainly become a bit of a drone, especially since after a while the stages start blurring into one and other and a sense of déja vu kicks in. The positive is you can shorten the championship to two countries, meaning you won’t have to endure such torture.
The ‘less yawn mode’ is actually quite fun; if a bit slow at times. It’s the ‘Road to glory’ mode where you drive as yourself, instead of the real drivers like Sebastian Loeb, and it’s up to you to make it as the best rally driver around. The story (using the word story extremely loosely) requires gamers to travel around the globe competing in races for stars. These make prizes, unlocking new cars, new events and new opponents to beat. Sounds not bad, but after a while it becomes a drain. The way it’s laid out isn’t ideal and certainly during the early stages you’ll have to attempt the track two or three times to post a decent score as the AI seem almost impossible to beat. Thankfully after trawling through the settings you can turn down their skill level to suit your own.
The events are what make it different from standard rallying, and that in my opinion is where the game is more fun. The events include the standard stage sprint to smashing through a certain amount of advertising boards to gain stars, and as you gain more stars you move up to classes which results in a change of car so instead of driving classic rally cars from the 70s, you're met with the power and oomph of a Subaru Impreza, the car you'd probably most relate to rally driving.
The handling of the cars I wasn’t too sure about. I found it hard to tell the difference between driving on thick snow, to sliding around on the tarmac. It seemed just as easy to spin out on any of the surfaces available. The tracks are very linear as well so if you go slightly off track the chances are you’ll be automatically reset onto the track. Where’s the fun in that if you want to plough your car into a collection of trees?
Speaking of trees and the surroundings in general, it seems that the trees are made of steel, as when you do fly round a corner and smash into even the smallest of trees absolutely nothing happens apart from the damage the car takes. In this day and age little things like snapping trees and ever evolving environments is what can elevate an alright game to a good or even great game. The backdrops look nice but as previously stated they eventually turn into a blur. The crowds are almost non-existent and if I didn’t mention them, you probably wouldn’t even notice if there were any present. Credit where credit is due though as the cars look nice, shiny and glossy; again whatever’s good must be undone by a few negative points. The puddles of water on the track just look plastic and completely unrealistic, and I’m pretty sure if I was to drive my car around the dirty tracks they would be caked more in mud than they end up in the game. There are just too many small things which all add up and take any enjoyment out of the game.
You also have the option of Xbox LIVE which is kind of redundant as not only is there hardly any players taking part online, but it’s a rally game so you’re just racing against other opponent’s ghosts in single races or mini championships. This does save the annoying bashing of cars off the track, but I think secretly we all love that.
Overall it seems for everything good WRC 3 has, there are three or four bad things. It’s not the easiest game to pick up and play and it certainly isn’t that fun. Serious fans of rally sport will probably enjoy this game, purely because of their love for the sport. As for the rest of us, there’s plenty other games around which your time would be better spent playing.