We'll be the first to admit that the announcement of WRC Powerslide took us by surprise. Milestone has built their reputation from producing specialist simulation games, with their focus currently on MotoGP 2013 and the yet-to-be-announced successor to WRC3, and yet they're also squeezing out WRC Powerslide, a decidedly arcadey take on the franchise much in the same vein as Codemasters' DiRT Showdown and F1 Race Stars.
Those who derided WRC3's Road to Glory for conforming to Codemasters and straying away from its simulation roots may want to steer clear of this one: there's a new overhead camera, arcadey handling and, heaven forbid, power-ups.
Yes you read that right, power-ups have now made it into a WRC game, making comparisons to F1 Race Stars unavoidable. Especially when there's a very similar-looking rain cloud power-up from F1 Race Stars, which you can see for yourself in the first gameplay trailer below:
From what we can glean from the trailer, other powerups include a shield, nitrous and a dust cloud.
VIsually, WRC3's engine looks to be untouched in Powerslide, retaining all the environmental detail and even vehicle damage, making it one of the better-looking topdown racers in an overcrowded genre that has been recently revitalised. In contrast, the physics have been completely reworked to befit Powerslide's arcade attitude, with lightweight handling and an emphasis on, you guessed it, powersliding.
In terms of game modes, Milestone has confirmed that the single player will consist of a Pure Rally Experience which, like WRC3's WRC Experience, will let you drive officially licensed rally cars spanning Class 3, Class 2 and WRC in races against four opponents. There's also a whiff of Road to Glory evident, however, as progression is ranked by a brzone, silver and gold medal system, but first place is required to unlock all eight rallies and 24 stages. Online multiplayer for up to four players will also be included, with options for quick match, create match and custom match.
As long as the handling hits that arcade sweet spot and the difficulty is tweaked just right, WRC Arcade has the makings of a fun spin-off title that adds a new dimension to the series, even if it's not entirely original. Pricing details haven't been confirmed yet, but since WRC Powerslide is a download-only title it should hopefully be reasonably priced. It's a shame F1 Race Stars didn't adopt the same strategy, frankly.
No release date as of yet either, but the trailer confirms that WRC Powerslide will be released sometime in March.