WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Switch
Also on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Developer: KT Racing
Medium: Digital/Cartridge/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

If you?re going to play WRC 8 on the Nintendo Switch — and you probably shouldn?t, for reasons I?ll get into shortly — I have one bit of advice: when you fail, fail big.

Seriously: don?t just be content with spinning out, or going slightly off the road. If you?re about to crash, make sure you send your car hurtling off cliffs or into lakes or tumbling down the side of a mountain. Not only does it look hilarious, I learned that the game also doesn?t quite know what to do in those cases. Fail a little bit, in minor, unimpressive ways (or, admittedly, run over spectators), and your car will get docked time and suffer damage. Fail big, in spectacular ways, and the game simply sets you back on the track where you left off, with none of the damage you?d associate with, say, going flying into a lake at 70 MPH. It?s probably an oversight on the part of WRC 8?s developers, but it?s one you can very easily exploit to your advantage.

Of course, I only learned this because I was a horrifically bad driver, endangering both myself and everyone else on the road — and, since there are those aforementioned spectators, I endangered pretty much everyone in the general vicinity of the road, too.

In my defense, WRC 8?s controls don?t make it easy to be a good driver. In fact, it often feels like the game is actively trying to make you a bad driver. The cars generally seem to have no traction whatsoever, even on the driest tracks, and you?re likely to go spinning off into the abyss any time you take a tight corner. Not even braking helps you that much, nor does turning on driving assist. Without fail, every time I hit a tight corner, I?d go spinning wildly out of control. On the bright side, that?s how I discovered the flaw in this game?s damage detection, but I have to imagine that people playing this game for their love of rally car racing will find themselves more than a little disappointed.

Mind you, their disappointment at the lousy handling will likely be overshadowed by their disappointment at how hideous this game looks. I should probably admit here that I only played WRC 8 in handheld mode, since that?s the only way I play my Switch. It may look significantly better with your Switch docked — but I can only assume that, in part because there?s no way a game could look this ugly on a non-handheld console, at least post-PS2.

Seriously, I can?t overstate this enough: WRC 8 looks rough. At the best of times, it runs smoothly enough that you can ignore your surroundings. Most of the time, though, the trees all around you pop into being looking like oil paintings done with a very heavy hand, as if they?ve been smudged across the screen by someone who is using globs of paint to make up for the fact they don?t want to draw any details. Plus, the draw distance is atrocious, so they really do pop in — oftentimes in ways that are quite distracting, since we?re talking about a tree suddenly appearing in the middle-distance out of nowhere. At its absolute worst — which, let?s be honest, is most of the time — even your car will look a little blurry, and it?s not because it?s moving so quickly you can barely see it.

To be sure, if you can overlook all those issues, there?s a fair amount to do here, at least in career mode. You?re not just racing, you?re managing a team and sponsors, so there?s plenty to do on and off the track.

I don?t get why you?d want to go on the track, though. WRC 8 is an ugly game with lousy controls, and there?s not much you can say in its favour. Unless you like turning kamikaze driving into an art form, of course — but even then, putting up with a bad racing game just to mess with its internal logic seems like a bridge too far.

Bigben Interactive provided us with a WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-