FIA World Rally Championship 3 Review

Developer: Milestone
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Players: 1-4 (2-16 online)
Rating: E for Everyone
Platforms: Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita (North and South America) All platforms in Europe.

A Great Alternative To The DiRT Series

Do like rally but don't care for all the glitz and flashy over the top visuals of the DiRT series? Do you want to play a rally game that leans more towards the simulation side? If you said yes to both of those than FIA World Rally Championship 3 (WRC 3) is for you.

WRC 3 is an interesting game. Where as the top dog in rally games DiRT relies on straddling the line between simulation and arcade with over the top flashy visuals, WRC 3 relies more on the fundamentals of rally. It doesn’t rely on flashy visuals or gymkhana events but instead offers some really solid racing and a fun career mode to keep you hooked.

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WRC 3 comes with your standard single player modes you would find in most racing games. You have your single season mode where you can drive as you favorite rally driver from a few different classes and try to win the championship or you can just race a single event or stage. The real meat to the single player is the career mode, or 'Road to Glory.'

Road to Glory mode starts you as a rookie driver trying to make a name for themself. There is no 'story' here, but rather a huge amount of events to complete and other amateur drivers to race a knock off. With each event you complete, you earn skill points. You can also earn these by doing things during the races like destroying the environment, drifting or getting air. With these points, you earn new cars, sponsors, paint schemes and upgrades. I really enjoyed this aspect as the upgrades truly made a difference to each vehicle. The upgrades range from speed, to handling, or even brake power. It feels good to take a low grade rally car and turn it into a medium to high grade car. My only real complaint with the career mode is there isn't a real pay-off at the end. Still, this mode is where you will be spending most of your time and it is really fun. There are a ton of cars, sponsors and paints to unlock so you will be busy for awhile.

WRC 3 also comes with your standard multiplayer modes. You can race with up to three friends via splitscreen or take your talents online. Online you will find standard racing game modes. Nothing special but it can be fun racing for the best time in a lobby. The game also has leaderboards for every stage so you can test your skills and gun for the top spot in the world.

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As I stated previously, WRC 3 tends to lean more towards a realistic approach when it comes to driving. Those coming over from DiRT will find the handling a little weird at first but within a few races you will be speeding down narrow mountainsides and drifting around hairpin corners like nothing. That being said, it is very easy to make a mistake a wreck or spin out. The game is not as forgiving as most racers and if you damage your car, it can seriously hurt your performance. So be careful.

WRC 3 starts to drag a bit when it comes to presentation. It's not a bad looking game but maybe a bit too generic. The cars look good and the detail the team put into each one is commendable. The damage model is also pretty decent but nothing outstanding. The tracks however, looks anywhere from decent to bad. You will see pop-ins and muddy textures quite a bit. It's a shame since the cars look so good. I wish that attention to detail was put into the environments. The menus also lack any kind of “pop.” No it dosen't need the flashy neon yellow triangle from DiRT 3, but the menus just scream generic and are a bore to look at. They also don't respond that quickly. The sound design is also a point of concern. The engines sound decent enough and the sound of your car slamming into a tree sounds okay but it's everything else that is pretty laughable. You co-driver will bore you to death and even if your co-driver is a female, they will still have the same male voice. Was this an oversight? The music in the game is bad. You will here the same 3 generic dub-step songs over and over. I turned it off.

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When it's all said and done, WRC 3 is a fun rally game and a great alternative to the DiRT series. There is quite a bit to do and I enjoyed the customization options in career mode. The game does have an overall generic feel to it but don’t let that steer you away from trying this solid racing game. If you like rally and want more of it in your life or if you are just looking for something new in the racing department, I strongly urge you to check WRC 3 out.

Pros:
+ Long Career Mode
+ Surprising Customization Options
+ All your favorite Rally drivers.
+ Solid racing gameplay

Cons:
- Can feel a bit generic at times
- Environments lack any kind of polish or detail
- No real 'pay-off' when you finish career mode
- That menu music......

Overall: 7.5/10

Price at time of review: $40
At $40, I highly recommend WRC 3 to rally and racing fans alike. You will get a lot out of it. If you don't want to shell out $40, I recommend at least renting it.

**Review was based on the Playstation 3 version purchased by reviewer