Review: Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo

We’re huge racing fans here at TGR, and whenever a new racing game arrives on the scene it’s always greeted, without exception, with eagerness and excitement. Often that excitement is flattened within minutes, but generally so far in the current generation of consoles we’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to quality racing. Between DriveClub, Project CARS, The Crew and WRC5, there’s already been a good amount of quality, and with Dirt Rally out later this year (and looking incredible) there’s not only plenty of racing to be enjoyed, but plenty of rallying. Gone are the arcade rally titles from Codemasters, and instead we’re being treated to a series of “proper” rallying games from various developers, with Milestone’s latest dropping the WRC license and bringing in one of rallying’s all time greats: Sebastien Loeb.

The core of Rally Evo is in the selection of cars and locations. While Loeb’s loyalty to Citroen is reflected in the number of the French manufacturer’s cars on offer, you’ll find some true classics to drive as well including the infamous 1977 Lancia Stratos and the iconic Subaru Impreza that propelled the late Colin McRae to the WRC title in 1995. There’s loads of places to drive too, and the difference in style between the sun-soaked rallycross tracks in Western America and the rain-soaked forests of Wales is noticeable and easy to enjoy. And just in case you’re wondering, there’s plenty of snow and ice to be had in Sweden too, so you won’t be short on opportunities to get sideways round corners.

Handling is clearly aimed at the more realistic side of the scale, and as you dash through the narrow winding dirt tracks of Australia¬†every last flick to the side is vital in terms of keeping you on all four wheels and pointing in the right direction. It’s incredibly easy to make a mistake, and while there’s a nice Codemasters-esque rewind system for when things really go wrong you’ll get a far more satisfying buzz out of doing an entire race or rally stage without having to use the feature. We did, however, find the handling to be very light at times, seemingly focussing far more on understeer than was comfortable and not always reflecting the amount of grip you’d lose in a real world situation. Bizarrely that got easier to cope with once we’d switched to the internal camera view instead of the chase-cam, but it made things far more twitchy than you’d like, and not always in a way that just reflected the difficulties faced when hurtling down a muddy road at 120mph.

In terms of presentation things are a little mixed, the interface when zipping around the menus and such is very clean and clear, with every option (of which there are a lot) easy to find, navigate and kick into. Visuals in the game are a little less memorable though, and look a little jaded alongside some of the other racers available at the moment. Replays can look especially unimpressive, especially when the weather is anything other than bright sunshine, but while you’re driving it’s acceptable enough. Engines sound pretty gritty though, and the co-driver’s pace notes are delivered at a sensible time and demand nothing but total concentration to remember where the road is going next.

If you’re looking for things to do then you won’t be disappointed; a career mode builds you up from simple front wheel drive low-powered cars up to beefy 4WD monsters, all the while taking you through various styles of racing from traditional timed stages through to elimination rallycross races. There’s a training area which lets you just throw your cars round an open and free-flowing test circuit, you can take part in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb event, or play through the career of Sebatien Loeb himself. And if you just want to dip in for a few minutes, there’s enough quick-game modes on offer to give you something to do every time you fire the game up. In that respect, there’s not much to rival it.

And yet, the most important thing about a racing game is how the cars feel to drive, and in Rally Evo it just doesn’t feel quite right. You’ll still get a kick out of finishing a stage in first place, but it’s often more by luck than judgement and when placed against the PC version of Dirt Rally it stands out even more.

Despite that, rally fans will still probably get something out of it, and you can somehow tell that Milestone enjoyed making this far more than the WRC games they’ve knocked out before now, but this isn’t the game to be converting people to proper rallying. We might need to wait a few months to see that on the PS4.

Reviewed on PS4

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