REVIEW – Somehow I always get the long stick with the Milestone games. WRC 3 was my favorite from them, and RIDE would have been my second best if it wasn’t for that save bug. Then, I heard the Italian team works on a new rally game featuring Loeb (without the WRC license, lol) and I didn’t have high expectations. They still managed to mess this up.
Let me start by telling you that we got the review copy a whopping amount of ONE DAY before the launch. The servers didn’t work until 2 hours before midnight of the launch day. (January 28, 10 PM CET). If this isn’t a bad omen to start off with, I don’t know what is.
Hey look, DiRT Rally!
I see what Milestone tried to pull off here: with the mosaic-style menu, they wanted to imitate Codemasters’ DiRT Rally, which has become pretty much the new etalon in rally games. However, behind the new look, it’s still the same voice tutorial, team naming stuff from previous years. Oh wait, I got a patch. 22 gigs were installed; now it wants to install 6. Okay, done.
So while the looks of the menu are changed, the basics are still the same. This notion also applies to more things, not just the menu. Quick Mode, Carrier, Loeb Experience, Garage, Multiplayer, Options – you know where to find what… but the design still reminded me the upcoming console port of DiRT Rally.
As a positive, I’d have to point out that there are quite a few cars… but many of them are available in several annual models. Citroën Xsara WRC has a 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 version. C4 WRC: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. DS3 WRC: 2011, 2012, 2013 and a 2013 Loeb’s Records version, too. While the direction is promising, the Italian devs lost their path – it somehow resembles Gran Turismo’s approach.
There are a few classic cars as well: Alpine A110, 1987 Audi Quattro S1 Pikes Peak (oh boy!), Lancia Delta Integrale, Mini Cooper S, Subaru Impreza WRC and so on. I have to mention something ridiculous here, though: EIGHT EUROS FOR A CAR?! WHAT?! Really? Suzuki Escudo Pikes Peak (of GT fame) and Peugeot 405 T16 costs 8 euros each. Have Milestone lost their minds? No comment.
Yeah, but you have to unlock the vehicles by playing the game and earning credits. You can grab some even in Quick Mode. I understand this, but having an effect on the game’s multiplayer mode is weird. Unless you push a few hours into SLRE, you’d have to get a weaker car in the category (or even rent it, if you can). Not that fair in my opinion.
The career mode is split up into eras and categories in a similar way as seen in RIDE. That’s a decent idea. While DiRT Rally has a similar approach, there’s a difference: here, you can choose whatever you want if you have the proper car and some money in your pockets. This is an easy-to-overlook solution. What if you don’t have much cash and can’t afford a new car? You can rent one – it’s not a great idea: later levels will have more stages, jacking up the rent fees as well. Only use this as a last solution.
I still have to compare SLRE with RIDE: there’s that stupid ranking board here again with those faceless, zero-personality names. Why do I have a feeling that this game is just RIDE on four wheels? (With asphalt tracks… hmm… maybe I have something noticed.) There’s also the Loeb Events mode, which is harder but offers well-paying challenges. Reminds me of RIDE’s Elite Trophies. Huh.
Loeb Experience, Online
This game mode focuses on the nine times (!) world champion Sebastien Loeb’s most important life events with some extra interview segments. The French genius (who’s now focusing on Dakar and WTCC, not to mention winning Pikes Peak with a record breaking time) talks about his story. This is a great extra but only for hardcore fans – others might end up just skipping them altogether, making this mode just a simple list of challenges.
Online is almost perfect. While the country, stage and time of day can be voted by everyone, the most important (car category) is picked solely by the host. Also, there’re the points: you start out with a thousand points, and if you don’t finish in the top three, these are going to be docked. This point system is probably for matchmaking purposes – it’s not seen how it’s going to work in the long run yet. I think it’s not a real solution.
Rally-cross? Oh yes, you get circuits as well, not just point A to point B stages as seen in WRC 5. There’s also Pikes Peak: that classic hillclimbing track, taking several minutes to complete that twenty-kilometer segment. Loeb has participated in the 2013 Hill Climb: with his Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak, he won with the record time of 8:13.878. Milestone indeed tries to break out of the limitations of the WRC games, but I believe they wanted to be involved in too much too quickly.
My ear hurts
Let me put it this way: the cars’ sounds are horrible. I’m not saying that Ride To Hell: Retribution had better engine audio, but damn, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is quite close to that „quality” – the cars don’t sound as proper as they should. What about the co-driver? Luckily, we are getting something different after WRC4 – however, I think there’s a lack of force in the voice.
It feels a little lifeless while it works the way it should do so. So overall, the audio would be average if it wasn’t for the bad car sounds. I think even WRC 5 had it better, although that had a lot of reverb and echo going on there. (And DiRT Rally? My opinion would be that it has the best audio.)
Visuals don’t make a game
Oh, one of the San Remo stages loaded. The visuals… look sterile… oooooh, the shadows loaded a few seconds after the pre-stage animations! Two-three seconds later, the start line’s advertising boards load in properly too. And this was my first experience outside the tutorials in the game. Fine, what about the visuals other than this?
Pop-in, pop-in, pop-in. It’s still noticeably loading in multiple track objects in sight. The visuals also look muddy – you might not see it at higher speeds due to having several multiple kilometer stages, but in return, the tracks look average. You won’t stop and see this for yourself – however; you might see some of that in say, hairpins. (Unless you fly off the track due to the handrails loading in while you’re braking before taking the turn.)
Physics? More like Physh th..- oh wait, I’ve got to censor this
The game still, STILL has arcadeish physics. Don’t mark my word but I think even Kylotonn’s WRC5 has better physics than SLRE. Despite changing roll bars, suspension, brake bias or anything, my car always felt the same. What happened to Milestone? Did they get stuck on WRC 4’s level? It’s understeering all the freaking time. I wasn’t able to try it with a steering wheel, but I saw that the PC version can have multiple tenths of seconds of delay in the game. Wake up, Milestone, you dun fked it up.
(At least this stuck in the past approach applies to the driving aids, so beginners can still begin with braking help, etc. Professionals will likely get fed up with the game and uninstall it, and then waiting for DiRT Rally’s console launch.)
Also, can someone tell me how the hell was I able to see through the road when I rolled?
Only for Loeb-fans
I expected Milestone not to improve much. Codemasters still firmly sits on the throne with DiRT Rally. Kylotonn’s WRC 5 wasn’t able to get close, and Milestone’s Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo ended up with the same fate. The game is bleeding from multiple orifices: it tries hard to be involved in several styles and genres, yet the physics don’t follow suit. The career mode is not more than a carbon copy of RIDE (and I hope that they didn’t bring over that f’ing save bug!). The cars’ setup cannot be stored separately; the slots are shared between all cars. Loeb’s videos have no subtitles. All track obstacles stop you dead on when a road sign shouldn’t make a 60 mph car halt instantly. The damage model – to quote BadSector – „is like something from an Amiga game”, the cars have no life…
The only reason I give this a 6 out of 10 is because it has several historical events from Loeb’s career and the addition of Pikes Peak is a superb idea. Outside all this, it’s just a generic Milestone game, sadly. It’s not as good as WRC5 (I gave that a 70), but since then, our ratings are much more harsh. They are on the same level in multiple ways, but SLRE has more content to pull it in front of WRC5.
Why are a lot of stages so damn narrow? Barely 1.5 car width? Even on Finnish tracks? Is it just me not having seen WRC in around six years? When DiRT Rally launches on PS4 (April 5, mark your calendars), then Loeb’s game will very quickly be forgotten, even if it’s not an annual game as F1…
+ A lot of cars
+ Long stages (And Pikes Peak!)
+ For Loeb fans, it’s 1.5 decades of history
– Online – what car you get depends on the host
– Usual Milestone mistakes
– It’s pretty much a mix of RIDE and WRC4
Publisher: Milestone (US: Square Enix)
Genre: Rally, rally-cross
Release date: January 29th 2016. (Europe)