Title: WRC 8
Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: https://www.wrcthegame.com/en
Release Date: November 14, 2019
Where to Buy: Steam, PSN, Eshop, Microsoft Store
WRC 8 is my new favorite agricultural game. At the start, I spent so much time amongst trees that I became something of an expert on the subject matter. Quite how I haven’t started this review by swearing speaks volumes to my professionalism.
If any of you don’t like hearing expletives I’d suggest not being around family members as they play WRC 8 on the Nintendo Switch and if you have no choice, at least wear a helmet to avoid injuries from hastily launched consoles.
I’ll start by pointing out that I’m not particularly great at racing games, in fact, I’m fairly average at best. Rally games, on the other hand, are usually something I’m fairly good at. This was not the case when I started WRC 8 and not all of the issues were my fault.
The WRC series of games have always been a bit more serious when compared to the Colin McRae franchise and whilst I’ve always preferred Codemasters’ efforts I have a bit of a soft spot for the WRC games too. This Switch port almost erased all the good times from my memory.
The main issue with WRC 8 is the Switch itself. Currently, there aren’t many racing games available for Nintendo’s joy machine and I’m starting to realize why especially when played in portable mode or with the Joy-Cons.
The Joy-Cons are not made for racing games due to the shoulder buttons and these are a severe hindrance in racing games, least of all rally games with their tight, fast stages complete with sharp turns that are just begging to be drifted around.
The PS4 and Xbox One versions of WRC are joys to play. Getting around corners is a breeze thanks to the pressure-sensitive buttons that allow just the right amount of gas to be applied. With the Switch, it’s either full throttle or no throttle. Having to try and tap the button to feather the car around is not fun and leads to many crashes.
I can’t blame the developers too much as they were hampered by hardware limitations, but I found my experience in WRC 8 to be a frustrating one, especially when compared to its counterparts. I was almost ready to give up as soon as I began, yet I pushed on, for you, the reader.
Controls aside, another big issue is one that is prevalent in many Switch games. The loading times. I’ve moaned about these a fair amount in many of the reviews I have done on the Switch and each time they seem to be worse. Here they are terrible, especially when all you want to do is complete a couple of quick races in succession.
The loading takes you out of the experience and is very frustrating. At least once the stage has loaded it’s all there and you can race from start to finish without any more pesky loading screens. Obviously, that was always going to be the case, I’m just trying to look for the positives here people.
Once things do load you may wish they hadn’t. WRC 8 is not a looker, even in docked mode. I primarily play my Switch undocked and here, things look dreadful. The framerate mainly holds up albeit with the occasional offputting stuttering whilst the scenery pops into view.
The cars and the track look quite pixelated and that’s an issue as it can be quite hard to see corners approaching, especially should you be driving at night. I found myself relying on my codriver and his pace notes, which ironically made the game more realistic and quite fun. Without him, I’d have been lost.
I did try to play one race with the sound off. A mistake I won’t be repeating in the future. I spent more time off of the track than on it and I know for a fact that if I did have the sound on the onlooking crowd would just be cheering aimlessly as if I had just won the whole thing. The patronizing so and so’s.
At this stage, after quite a bit of playtime, I was all geared up to score WRC 8 an ever shameful 1 stars out of 5. Mainly because I don’t think I’m allowed to give it a zero. I was ready to give up and turn my paper in with a shameful look on my face.
It was at this point that my aforementioned professionalism kicked in. I hadn’t yet tried it with an actual controller. What was I thinking? So I dusted off my trusty wireless GameCube controller and tried again.
The results were completely different. I found myself having flawless races and actually winning. I could make it round the corners and I was actually having fun, quite a bit of it. Should you be set on purchasing this game I would highly recommend playing docked with an actual controller and not the Joy-Cons.
Not only does the gameplay better docked and with a controller, but it also looks better. It’s still not great, but the performance in docked is a marked improvement over handheld.
After that, I tried handheld again, only this time I remapped the controls. I mapped acceleration to the right analog stick which allowed me to have a throttle I could control. It took a bit of getting used to, but once I was acclimatized I was able to, once again, drive properly and have fun.
If you have the game and want to play in a portable mode I can’t recommend doing this highly enough. Just make sure to remove the camera from the same analog stick or you will feel violently sick quite quickly.
Content-wise, the Switch port of WRC 8 is the worst available. The comprehensive career mode where you will likely spend most of your time is all present and accounted for, however, modes from the other versions aren’t. The Esports and split-screen modes of its counterparts are missing, which is a shame, although I dread to think how split-screen would look here.
The Switch port does get weekly challenges that pit you against the times of other racers from around the world, but it is the career mode that players should spend the most time in.
I’ve run out of room and can’t now discuss it at length, however, it is an engaging and fun mode where you build up your race crew and reputation while taking on the various stages from the WRC. I enjoyed this mode and now that I can actually play the game I plan to spend more time with it in the future. Just be warned that the text is incredibly small and I now need to wear glasses.
I would recommend giving WRC 8 a try if you own a PlayStation or an Xbox as that will be the best version of the game to play. The Switch port lacks features and does have many issues that I’ve described above, but even with that, it remains one of the best racing games on the platform thanks to a lack of other titles.
Should the Switch be your only way to play you may still want to give it a go. Just make sure to play on your TV and utilize the other control options that are available.
Verdict: Once I played about with the control settings I had much more fun with WRC 8. The bad graphics and terrible load times are quite shocking, however, with a fairly engaging season mode, it could be a worthy purchase for racing fans who only own a Switch.
- Best rally game on Switch
- Good career mode
- Button mapping
- Terrible graphics
- Horrendous load times
- Lack of features compared to other versions
Steve is the resident Englishman, just don’t hold that against him. He’s been playing games for the best part of 3 decades and will continue to do so for as long as his thumbs hold up. When they no longer work, he’ll still find a way to play Resident Evil 2. Lover of most things nerdy Steve also likes sports. Go sports!