V-RALLY 4

The leg­endary series re­turns, hop­ing to turn a cor­ner

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENT - Jim_Crikey

When rally fans buy a game em­u­lat­ing their mo­tor­sport of choice, they ex­pect the wheel deal. They’re tyred of ar­cade ex­pe­ri­ences, and want to get as close to the real thing as pos­si­ble. This is a chal­lenge for Ky­lo­tonn be­cause, although it (mostly) gives ar­cade sen­si­bil­i­ties the boot, it hasn’t snagged li­censed driv­ers, tracks, or cham­pi­onships. Okay, we’ll belt up with the car puns. It’s get­ting ex­haust­ing any­way.

All the cars are li­censed, mind you, and there’s even a lit­tle in-game ad­ver­tis­ing (um, yay?). The pre­vi­ous V-Rally is now old enough to buy a lot­tery ticket, but in some ways, it’s like the series never went away. The first three games are re­mem­bered fondly by many rally fans, and much of what they did right is present here.

One of the most im­por­tant things to get right in a rally game is the feel of each road sur­face, and V-Rally 4 cap­tures this pretty well. Keep­ing con­trol of your car while hurtling over gravel is a con­stant bat­tle, and the dif­fer­ence when you tran­si­tion to tar­mac is as enor­mous as it is wel­come. The snowy wastes of Siberia ar­guably of­fer the great­est chal­lenge and, there­fore, the most sat­is­fy­ing pay­off when you take a cor­ner at speed and some­how don’t wreck your ve­hi­cle.

GRAVEL AND BLOCK

The mud and sand of the Kenyan plains, the tight streets of a Ja­panese town, an Amer­i­can na­tional park: it’s all ex­cel­lently de­signed, and con­stantly nail-bit­ing stuff. The graph­ics are noth­ing very spe­cial (in fact, they’d look at home on PS3), but the fram­er­ate is ex­cep­tion­ally smooth at all times, both of­fand on­line. The physics aren’t en­tirely re­al­is­tic, es­pe­cially when it comes to steer­ing, but they’re un­for­giv­ing.

The core ex­pe­ri­ence is solid, then, but the game built around it is not. The ca­reer mode is a mess. You start off with enough money for one ve­hi­cle, and then you need to earn cash from races. The prob­lem is, you need money not just for new cars, but also for en­ter­ing races, and staff who need pay­ing ev­ery in-game week (and their rates go up ac­cord­ing to their com­pe­tence). Ev­ery­thing from re­pairs (dam­age is vis­i­ble, and also grad­u­ally af­fects per­for­mance) to up­grades is a con­stant drain on your re­sources, and it’s even pos­si­ble to end a race or tour­na­ment with less money than you went in with. The ca­reer should be the main draw, but pro­gres­sion will test your pa­tience.

Quick races give you ac­cess to ev­ery­thing im­me­di­ately, and the in­clu­sion of off­line split-screen is to be ap­plauded. On­line, I’m shocked (and more than a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed) to find that no­body’s play­ing buggy rac­ing, which is great fun. I never find a lobby with more than four peo­ple (in­clud­ing me) on the oc­ca­sions where I can find or con­nect to one. Like most of V-Rally 4, on­line’s stuck in first gear.

“THE CORE EX­PE­RI­ENCE IS SOLID, BUT THE GAME BUILT AROUND IT IS NOT.”

Dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines are avail­able if you fancy a break from the lone­li­ness of tra­di­tional rally driv­ing.

INFO FOR­MAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB BIGBEN DEV KY­LO­TONN RAC­ING GAMES

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