What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, WRC 3 released to very mixed reviews. It was a game of two halves; all of the mechanics were in place, it handled well and didn’t look too bad either. Unfortunately however, probably due to time constraints, WRC 3 lacked a huge chunk of content from the console versions. Launching with just six rallies (though later three more were added via DLC), less cars and missing the entire career mode, what was a fine racer ended up feeling too empty to have staying power.

This happens a lot.

Luckily Milestone has evolved their Vita entries in a pretty big way, releasing MotoGP 13 with the full-fat console experience, and, if the demo is anything to go by this appears to be continuing with WRC 4. While we’ve only had a chance to play the demo today, it’s already clear that improvements have been made across the board.

It’s easy to see from simply popping in my WRC 3 card into my Vita; things have improved drastically across all areas. While WRC 3 had fairly reasonable graphics for an early Vita release, WRC 4 has had a complete overhaul. Perhaps the most noticeable change which you can see straight away is the detail on the car. In WRC 3 the cars were functional at best, with lo-res textures showing whenever the camera was zoomed in. In comparison, WRC 4’s demo car looks stunning, with improved reflections and much clearer detail. Improvements in lighting also carry over the the environment, with rock faces causing realistic shadow effects that splatter across the track. Another noticeable issue in WRC 3 which arose from the external car view was a choppiness when cornering sharply. This has also disappeared with a solid frame rate throughout.

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If you played WRC 3, the improvements are noticeable straight away.

Smaller changes which make WRC 4 feel like a higher class of package include completely reworked menus and a new HUD on track. While these may seem minor, you only need to look at WRC 3’s menu system to realise they looked like a college student’s graphic art project. While the rest of the game including online and career modes has yet to be tested by us, things are certainly looking more than promising for WRC 4. Milestone are gearing up for their fourth Vita title (MUD, WRC 3 and MotoGP 13 came before it) and it’s great to see a developer who is still supporting the Vita strongly, despite it struggling and other developers and publishers not sticking around. You can download the demo now in Europe and the game is set to release later this month.

  • JEALOUS! bring this to NA and ill be happy!

    • Brian Sharon

      The NA staff are going to riot me thinks.

      • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

        You can both switch accounts to download the demo….though I admit that would be a huge pain in the backside.

        • yeah ive thought about it haha i do already have a UK psn account… gah!

  • Satu Patel

    I wish we would get this demo stateside, but as usual…. I’ll import it.

    • From where?

      • Satu Patel

        I’ll import the full retail game from amazon UK. Your regular amazon account works there too. Shipping is higher but I like physical copies.

        • I tried that with the pre-order (and another game a few months ago) and it’s telling me that my US address is not valid.

          • Satu Patel

            Okay, okay…. Details…. First I noticed preordering doesn’t work either. What I have to do is wait till a local person / small business puts it up for sale after they have it in stock. The person I buy from is “6 hungry Weasels”. They have excellent reviews and excellent packing and shipping. Once the order is placed with them and it says in stock they will email you with the correct postage, because they are shipping overseas.

          • Sincere thanks for the tip!

          • Satu Patel

            Okay “6 hungry weasels” has it in stock. I just ordered it from them from their uK amazon site. Keep in mind games cost more in the UK, and the shipping. Cheers!

          • I ordered it from them as well, as soon as they stopped listing it for 999 pounds!

  • Michael Rogers

    I’ll be getting this just to support Milestone. All looks very promising for their new MX game which will basically be MUD 2.

    NA peeps, do what we have had to do for games like Ragnarok, Muramasa and Walking Dead (for physical copies). Import, show that there is demand for these games on Vita!

  • Lester Paredes

    I’d like to play it! The lack of a career mode in 3 is exactly what made me skip it and F1. I’ll buy this if it comes out over here. Hopefully it’ll get a physical release, though I am not averse to downloading.

  • LudwigH

    Damnit I’ll give it another try, I may have dismissed it too quickly based on the 2d trees but what you wrote motivates me to try it again! Queue another download of the WRC4 demo!

    • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

      The 2D trees are admittedly pretty ugly but the rest of the graphics across the board are way better than WRC 3. You don’t notice the trees so much after a while.

    • André Rocha

      I missed this, I was too damn focused trying not get off the road to notice the 2D trees XD

  • Pata

    I kept crashing and going off the road when I played the demo yesterday. I’m not probably going to buy the full game because I wouldn’t like to crash on everything the game has to offer.

    • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

      It’s definitely in sim territory. Initially I also crashed a lot too; the handling is heavier and more realistic than WRC 3. The options screen has a variety of assists to ease you in. I’d suggest switching the HUD to track map instead of arrows and the game options to intermediate or novice at first. In true sim style you need to brake early, feather the brakes to avoid skidding and utilise the handbrake on tighter turns. My initial crashing was mainly by going too fast; taking your time to prevent skidding too much helps.

    • André Rocha

      Haha you’re not alone buddy. I was only able to enjoy it in the easier difficulty, shame on me XD

  • I was literally so, so bad at WRC3, I could not drive in a straight line for longer than 2 seconds. Nothing to do with the game just me being terrible. At one point a tree was actually beating me in a race

    • André Rocha

      Yea they need to improve trees A.I. so they can divert from us *cough*

  • Sime

    Just played the vita demo and the Xbox 360 demo one after the other – it’s amazing how similar they are. The 2D trees in the Vita version were the biggest contrast, and then smaller differences like traffic on the bridge in the 360 version (not present on the Vita). They’ve done a great job though – I’m not sure which version I’ll buy yet.