WRC 9 (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Racing, Sports, Simulation
Developer: KT Racing
Publisher: NACON
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S
Tested on: Switch

WRC 9 (Switch) – Review

Site Score
6.8
Good: Large amount of content
Bad: Poor visual performance
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

WRC 9’s arrival on the Switch feels late in more ways than one. Not only did it release six months after it launched on other platforms, but launching a game that focuses on the 2020 World Rally Championship in 2021 feels a bit odd. Still, it’s better to see the game arrive late than not at all. Is the Switch port of WRC 9 worth the wait or should you simply let this one drive by?

Story

Although the game features a career mode, we wouldn’t go as far as to consider this a story. WRC 9 focuses on racing and a real narrative is logically absent here.

Graphics

WRC 9 on the Switch looks less impressive than on other platforms, which isn’t entirely unexpected. However, we’re happy to report that NACON obviously went for performance over visuals, as the game runs at a steady 30 fps. The lack of visual fidelity is emphasized by a low draw distance and frequent pop-ins. Add to this that textures and shadows are quite low in resolution, with shadows more often than not suffering from jagged edges. However, when you’re focusing on improving your best time, these issues are only a minor annoyance, as you’ll be too caught up in the gameplay to really notice the lack of details.

Sound

While there is music present in the game, this is mostly in the background outside of actual races. During your time on the track, you’ll mostly hear the sounds of your car and the voice of your co-driver as they give you instructions and tell you important track information. The information that you receive in this way is an integral gameplay feature, but we sometimes found the co-driver difficult to understand. Whether this was by design isn’t entirely clear but it does add a degree of realism.

Gameplay

As the official game for the World Rally Championship, WRC 9 allows players to become competitive drivers and offers up a variety of modes that lets players live out their rally dreams. The game doesn’t waste any time, immediately putting you behind the steering wheel when you start for the first time. After a few tutorials and an introductory race, WRC 9 will then tailor your gameplay experience based on how you did. This boils down to a selection of driving assists that you can turn on or off as you get to grips with the game and become more experienced. It’s nice to see just how much can be customized to make the game accessible for newcomers.

The meat of the single-player experience can be found in the Career mode, of course. Here, you take charge of a rally team, not just as a driver but as a manager as well. Naturally, you start out with a low-level team, but as you progress through this mode, you’ll earn experience and money, which allows you to improve your equipment, hire better staff and compete at higher levels. Apart from racing tournaments, Career mode shakes things up by including side missions such as car manufacturers asking you to test prototype cars. Side missions like these make sense within the game and prevent things from becoming too monotonous. The management system is surprisingly expansive, with the R&D options forcing you to really consider what to focus on as you’ll have to select what your research crew has to focus on next from a large matrix of options. Additionally, you’ll have to juggle team morale and relationships with car manufacturers, making Career mode a challenge both on track and off track.

If dealing with managing your team isn’t your cup of tea, however, you’ll be happy to learn that WRC 9’s other modes instead purely focus on racing. Season mode offers a similar challenge to Career mode without having to worry about team management. You’ll also be able to immediately jump into a race with Quick Play mode. Here you simply choose your track, set weather conditions and attempt to improve your personal time. Training and test modes give you an opportunity to try out new cars as well as any tuning you’ve done to the game’s vehicular menagerie. You can change stuff on the fly here, such as different types of tires, meaning you can instantly familiarize yourself with what works best for you. Rounding things out in single-player is Challenge Mode. Here you are tasked with clearing certain objectives, such as finishing a track with a preset car. You’re awarded points based on your result, and these can be spent to unlock additional challenges.

The all-new Club mode is probably the standout feature for this edition of WRC 9. Here you can create your own rally tournaments, with a variety of options such as weather conditions and restrictions on which cars are allowed. Tournaments can be uploaded -and downloaded- online, with other players able to take on whichever challenge you cook up. Naturally, you’re also able to take things online and simply race against other players. Unfortunately, the Switch version of WRC 9 doesn’t offer split-screen racing, so unless each player brings their own Switch, local multiplayer isn’t really an option. As this feature was present in the game on other platforms, we hope that this will be included in a future update. There’s still plenty of content here, so we wouldn’t go as far as saying this is an outright dealbreaker, but it might still be disappointing to learn this.

As far as controls go, we highly recommend playing this game with a Switch Pro Controller, as the game relies on the shoulder buttons for accelerating and braking. Attempting to make a turn with the Joycons didn’t feel as satisfying as it did with a Pro Controller, and unless you’re a veteran of the genre, steering a car will take some getting used to. The aforementioned driving assists are a huge help here, but they do feel like you’re relying on training wheels, which diminishes the feeling of being in control of a rally car. Getting to grips with WRC 9 does involve a learning curve, and if you’re looking to get the best possible performance, then either pick up a Pro Controller or perhaps go for a different platform instead.

Conclusion

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the Switch version of WRC 9, it’s actually quite difficult to recommend, simply because it feels obsolete. Not only did it arrive about six months too late, but the lack of a split-screen mode, graphical compromises and the requirement of a Pro Controller to really offer an enjoyable experience means that you’re much better off picking this one up on Playstation, Xbox or PC.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
WRC 9 (Switch) - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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