Over the past few years Milestone S.r.l. have stamped their name on the racing genre. More specifically; the niche market of the racing genre scene. This time around the WRC brand has been dropped all together and been replaced with, what we can assume to be, a new ‘Sébastien Loeb’ franchise. Thankfully, instead of just slapping the rally icon’s picture on the cover Milestone have made use of Loeb’s illustrious career in more ways than one.
Straight after the intro video rolls you are presented with the home menu to Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo. The tiles are simplistic and easy to navigate, something these developers have failed to take into consideration with some of their previous titles. This is a continuing theme throughout the entire game. A simple, well presented experience. You are immediately sucked into Sébastien Loeb’s journey to the pinnacle of the rally world. The loading screens are plastered with historical trivia that any petrolhead can appreciate.
There’s enough dirt here for any veteran
Essentially you have access to two grueling career modes. The Loeb Experience Mode accompanies you through eight different eras of Loeb’s career as arguably the best driver to grace the WRC. Each racing category is accompanied by video footage and photos highlighting these various phases in this career. As far as fan service goes you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that compares. If you would prefer to path your own way the Career Mode boasts eight different rallies comprised of 64 stages as well as five Rallycross circuits.
If content is king Rally Evo would receive accolade upon accolade. The gameplay experience however is a different kettle of fish entirely. Before each event you can customize your car to perform better across the various terrains and weather elements. Regardless of doing this there is still a overwhelming feeling of riding the toy hovercraft from Back To The Future II. The steering feels as though it should be more responsive making navigation around a tricky hairpin bend an absolute nightmare. Add continual framerate drops on levels with high shadow and texture rendering for a good dose of overwhelming frustration. A redeeming factor to the shoddy driving mechanics is the way your car takes damage. Ride over a slight embankment and you’ll feel your suspension immediately go slightly lopsided. Hit a more threatening obstacle and make peace with the fact that you are going to finish in last place… with a flat type, damaged rim and an absent bumper. As with previous titles the damage meter can be customized to the players preference, if you’re not in the mood to get too dirty.
Why is the limit meter turned on?
Rally Evo allows you to choose from 58 car models across 16 manufacturers. Being Sébastien Loeb a large number of these cars are a variant of a Citroën that has been associated with the man himself. Whether having a 2007/8/9 and 2010 model of the Citroën C4 WRC is questionable though. Other cars range from the old school 1971 BMW 2002 TI to a more modern Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Gaining access to these cars will take up a significant amount of time. As you make your way up the driver rankings you are rewarded with in-game currency. Each event requires a particular car. You can’t just choose your favourite car and head of to the start line. It is clearly indicated to you whether you can or can’t afford a compatible vehicle. If you don’t have enough in-game currency you have the option to rent rather than buy your vehicle. It might suck that you don’t own the car, but at the very least it does not isolate you from having a new experience.
Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo suffers from controls that resemble an arcade racer more than a rally sim which is a concern to fans on the rally genre. Milestone took a step in the right direction by implementing a massive variety of content. This unfortunately doesn’t make up for the average visuals, generic audio and near gamebreaking framerate drops. For now you’re better off opting for a driving sim with proper mechanics and less substance.