Milestone is a developer who specialises in motorsports, having already released two titles in the genre this year: SBKX and Superstars V8 Next Challenge. Both games were perfectly playable, but suffered from production values and structure well behind the times, and this is sadly the case with the studio's latest offering, WRC: FIA World Rally Championship. Once you get past the dated presentation and uninspired career mode, there's a decent rally game here, but even compared to the original DIRT from Codemasters it comes short on almost every level.
Maybe it's the fact that I've played a fair few Milestone racers in my time, but the career mode on offer here feels rather familiar. You get a number of chapters, each consisting of a collection of race events. Each event lists three levels of achievements, with credits handed out according to difficulty. Passing any of these will unlock the next event, but whereas a 10th place finish might earn a handful of credits, winning will earn a lot more.
Credits are needed to buy new cars across the three racing classes, and bizarrely also needed to acquire new sponsors - although unless I missed something, these sponsors don't differ much, if at all, in terms of what they give you. Initially you'll be competing in the regional championships, but the goal is to move up the ladder and get a job offer from a top class WRC team. This means you won't start in the WRC category, with your skills first being tested in the P-WRC, S-WRC and J-WRC sections.
WRC isn't a very forgiving game. I play a lot of racing games, but even on the standard difficulty the opening few events are punishing in the extreme. To unlock the next Chapter you're likely going to need to replay each event a handful of times, but things do start to click once you're more in tune with the way the cars handle on the various surface types.
Handling initially felt incredibly twitchy, which wasn't helped by the way cars don't exactly look the part on the track. It's an odd complaint, but something is off, whether it's the movement of the camera or the way the car pivots on the road surface. Things do get better, though, and you have to remember that this isn't DIRT, and as such isn't going to be as instantly gratifying.