WRC Generations Review
The last time I saw the word “Generations” in a title for something it was a Star Trek movie. It was the first movie involving the Next Generation crew and featured the original cast, though mostly Captain Kirk, as a way to hand over the baton between franchises. On paper it probably sounded amazing. In reality, at least in my opinion, it was distinctly average. Its sequel, and the first proper Next Generation movie, First Contact, remains the best Star Trek movie for me but now I’m totally off topic. Back, then, to WRC Generations, the newest entry into Kylotonn’s WRC franchise and its swansong as the licence and future WRC games are being handled by Codemasters. So in a way, both this and its Star Trek namesake are achieving the same thing, handing over the baton in a distinctly average manner.
This isn’t to say WRC Generations is a bad game, but in some areas it’s almost indistinguishable from WRC 10 and in others, notably worse. This may come as no surprise to some given the yearly release cycle but it becomes a bigger issue when there were, and in some cases still are, things entirely broken despite the lack of visible changes. If, like me, you’re a console sim racer, then it’s games like this that you look forward to. Ones that really are suited to a wheel and make no bones about the fact. Whilst WRC Generations is, like its predecessors, entirely playable on a controller, wheels and pedals given the fullest immersion and make things much more fun and entertaining. On launch, however, many wheels were either losing force feedback or, in the case of Fanatec wheels like mine, not being recognised at all. This was amusing given that Fanatec’s logo is on every loading screen, however, for it to launch in that state is almost unforgivable.
Three post-launch patches later and most of the wheel issues have been resolved which is a relief but there are still issues. Even with force feedback working and everyone’s wheel being recognised, the feel of each surface is indistinguishable. Everything feels loose, even tarmac, and most amusing of all, as far as handling goes, you can run dry tarmac tyres on a wet surface and be as fast as someone who’s running full wets. At which point, your ability to go fast amounts to your ability to judge when to brake and how much you’ll slide; not your tyres.
That being said, you’ll want to avoid wet stages for now as the visuals for all wet surfaces are pretty awful. The reflective sheen is at best a distraction and at worst it can confuse you as to what the road is doing. Mistakes and mishaps are much more common and there’s not much to be done about it until it, hopefully, gets fixed. At the same time I also hope they fix the interior dashboards for the Rally1 cars. These are new for the WRC 2022 season and see the introduction of a battery system that provides a boost, much like Formula 1. Its implementation is different, however, in that you get to choose from three boost maps which will influence when the boost is deployed and how fast the battery drains. You can’t choose when to deploy and whilst the real-life implementation maps the boost against your cars torque curve it’s relatively accurate. However, you’ll have no idea how this is affecting your car if, like me, you run interior cam only with much of the HUD removed as none of the Rally1 cars’ rev counters worked. They do appear to work on all the other cars I flung sideways so it seems strange for them not to work on only one group of cars.
If you decided to fling yourself into the career mode, however, by the time you make it all the way to the WRC this issue might be fixed. Nothing has changed here from the career mode you know and, potentially, love. You pick which level you start at, Rally3 being the lowest entry point and by taking on challenges, rallies and other events you must keep your team happy and move up the ranks. As you improve you unlock skill points that you can put into many different facets of your team, from better weather prediction to faster service times when you need to fix your car during rallies.
If you wish to be a WRC driver but do not wish to decide if the team needs a rest or not, the Season mode will be the place for you. This mode is entirely focussed on the rallies so you’re no longer wondering how many sugars to put in your meteorologists’ tea. In a way it’s a shame that nothing new has really entered the game. The menus are shinier and the quick access panel is handy if you only do four things in the whole game which, to be fair, is entirely possible. However, the 50th Anniversary mode from WRC10 is no longer with us and it feels like adapting this mode to something else is a missed opportunity and losing it entirely is a huge shame.
Thankfully the historic cars are still present along with classic driver names so if you’re keen to pretend to be Colin McRae — if in doubt, flat out — then you absolutely can. Though the only challenge you can set yourself is seeing whether or not you can top the leaderboards, that is, if the game will upload your time. Now I know Australia has been frequently ridiculed for its internet speed — ranking 72nd in fixed broadband — but this cannot account for the frequent messages, after a stage, about being unable to contact the leaderboards. This issue becomes more and more annoying given that WRC Generations feels compelled to upload your time at the end of every stage whether you want to or not.
Whilst this is annoying, it becomes infuriating if you’re trying to compete in the multiplayer leagues. Here you can compete on your own or as a team (or on your own as a team if that makes sense, because you want the challenge) in daily stages and a weekly rally. The higher you finish on the leaderboards the more points you receive and if you get enough, you’ll get promoted. That is, unless your times repeatedly fail to upload regardless of the number of attempts, and the only way you can continue or go play another mode is to cancel the upload. You can even go several successful uploads lulling yourself into a false sense of security before nailing a stage and seeing those cursed words: “Failed to contact the global leaderboards”.
Perhaps I’m being too negative because when it all comes together, especially on a wheel, WRC Generations is intoxicating. The thrill of brake-dancing (pun intended) these cars within inches of trees, sheer drops and rocks that will seriously mess up your day cannot be understated. Visually, aside from the wet surfaces, WRC Generations is beautiful and having such a huge roster of cars and stages to choose from will keep everyone entertained until we see what Codemasters will do now that the WRC licence has changed hands.
Ultimately though, I have a feeling of disappointment. Kylotonn had the opportunity with its swansong to set the standard that Codemasters would have to at least match when it releases its first official WRC titled game. What we have instead is a game that is almost a carbon copy of WRC 10 with some additional content but with very little beyond the new Rally1 cars and some re-jigged Swedish stages to really set it apart. At the end of Star Trek: Generations Captain Picard buries a dead again Captain Kirk on Veridian III under a nondescript pile of rocks. An unassuming end to arguably Starfleet’s most flamboyant captain and whilst you would never have described Kylotonn’s work on the WRC series as flamboyant, its end is equally unassuming.
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