Thursday, 21 June 2018

There is no tarmac here


Platform tested: Xbox One X
Released: 2018

Review: Lately I've been putting a few hours into Gravel, a fairly low-key and budget rally racing game on my Xbox One X. Running a nice 4K it tries to replicate some of that good old Sega Rally arcade magic of powersliding your way through corners in mud, sand and snow. It's nice nod to the good old days of lighthearted arcade racing and a fun one at that. Visually it's a colourful treat, which most of the times works with tropical sunsets and grassy alpine forests looking especially lush to speed past, foggy canyon tracks on the other hand are more of a miss visually though.

Gravel boasts a healthy set of pretty tracks across deserts, mountains, forests and icey roads, challenging you to races in a diverse selection of cars. There are a lot of rare rally cars here that I have not seen outside of this game which made me happy, although how diverse each car handles I'm not sure of. For those seeking more challenge there's a nice set of options to tune your racing experience from pure arcade to slightly more sim-ish handling too, the game also features a nice selection of views to race in.

I purchased this game on sale, and while I recommend it as a fun game to throw a few hours into, I wouldn't go so far as recommend it at full price. Although it mostly looks flashy in it's Unreal engine built tracks, the game can at other times look a little rough. The structure of the game is quite tame and offers nothing compelling in the long run, although the various types of races with tracks that range from either A to B structure or closed racing circuits give the player a nice sense of variety when going through the main campaign mode. It's a standard checkbox affair, with some "boss battle" championships thrown in as singleplayer experience. Multiplayer worked well to, the little amount of time I put into it at least.

Gravel then, just works when it does what it promises; it gives you that awesome slip and slide off-road arcade racing feeling similar to what Sega Rally used to do; where you really feel like you're on the edge of your seat taking each apex of the corner dangerously close while traversing the rough terrain in a spectacular manner. I would have liked a little more polish and substance, but as a lower priced title on sale it really does work as a entertaining arcade rally racer. My little budget title treat of the year.