Dakar 18, and rally videogames are great, right? Well, soon after starting a race, I quickly went off the track and into the desert, and didn’t know where I was meant to go as there’s no map in the bottom-right, just a set of rather odd icons in the form of a series of roadbook notes.
Taking in an element from the tutorial, and part of the game actually involves getting out of the car, and walking in the mud, to help tow other cars out of the mud. Huh? I thought this was about rally racing? On the plus side, it’s fairly straight forward to do, as you just walk up to the front of their car, press A to hook on a tow rope and then get back in your own car. This takes forever and – basically – it was NOT fun. In fact, I gave up and just restarted the race, partly down to frustration and partly down to the fact my car was becoming ‘as one’ with theirs, blending together like something out of cult 1990 horror movie Society.
In fact, as for the roadbook, it never seemed to move on by itself as we went along the track. Surely it should do as we progress? Hence, it may as well have been a set of hyeroglyphics for all the relevance it had to the task at hand.
Turning the car while driving was a bit of a chore and as I hit the sides of the road and some rocks, I damaged my car and it needed to be repaired. Okay, fair enough, but if that’s the case, then how come it’s still driving all this time while I’m in the repair menus? Once I exited out of those, I had to reverse back to the track(!)
While driving along open dunes, I hit a brick wall (literally!) jutting out of the sand. Surely, whoever created this course would’ve got rid of such obstacles? When I retried the same race, my car ‘died’ just as quickly, even though I’d not hit anything!
Continuing on, and I rambled along on the open dunes without a whisper from my co-driver until… “CAP is not THIS way!”, so which way is it? There’s nothing onscreen to help point me in the right direction. If you’re as old as me and remember playing The Hobbit on the ZX Spectrum in the ’80s, and getting lost in the desert… yes, it’s like that.
(What’s the CAP, other than the direction you’re meant to be going, which is sometimes into a rockface?)
I withdrew from the race and… it threw me back into the main menu… which has nice, peaceful music, so that’s a plus. However, as it changes to the screen when it’s loading in a level, you hear a repetitive pretend-rock/metal riff that bangs against your head like the din that it is.
Along with the lack of onscreen directions, and – sort of – talking about not hearing much talking from your co-driver, I started a new race and, purposely, didn’t move. Did he berate me for literally going nowhere? No. He didn’t say a word. You wouldn’t hear any objections from the slightly-animated crowd, either, as they’re whooping and clapping as if they’re seeing something amazing, rather than my static car. Weird!
You say, it’s either him saying nothing, or him having mood swings every second, to the point where he’s shouting louder than drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket!
Later, while at a waypoint and being auto-driven past a crowd, he told me “CAP is not THIS way!” Erm… I seem to be in the right spot, regardless. Soon after that, I was 2km away from the finish line (which I couldn’t see) and he told me to keep going forward at top speed. Then I was 1km away, and then… I was in a forbidden area. WTF? Are the graphics missing, or is the game unfinished? Well, it turns out that when he told me to go straight on, I should NOT go straight on, as that takes me to the desert rather than staying on the beaten track.
I know I shouldn’t drink and drive, but that’s what I’ll be doing for future races.
When you catch site of you and your co-driver in the car from time to time, the faces look very ‘PS3’ and as emotionless as my ex, as you can see below.
So, the graphics feel fairly flat and a mile away from what you’d expect the current generation of consoles to be able to do; the audio is a rasping engine mixed with your shouty co-driver; the car is a bit of a dog to drive, and I really wasn’t enjoying myself too much.
However, one thing which is undoubtedly beyond pointless is buying this game on a disc. Sometimes, games for review come as a code or as a disc. I have unlimited internet downloads so a code is the preferred option for me, these days, since digital distribution is to where everything is moving, and it saves having to wait for the Royal Mail to run to your house like a tortoise.
I also once read a review on Amazon from someone who bought Mortal Kombat X on a PC disc, because they wanted the physical version. How did that work out for them? The disc contained… the Steam client, which they already had. It also contained a Steam code… which they entered to download the entire 30Gb game! This completely negated the point of a disc.
But, hey, this is an Xbox One game and the entire game will be on this disc, right? It must be, surely, to make the wait worth it as it wound its way through the mail system? Erm… well, as my Xbox One told me…
- Disc: contains 204.29 Mb
Network: needs to download 42.15Gb
So what is the point of having this game on a disc, Big Moon, when none of it is ON the disc?!
Time for a paracetamol now I’ve finished banging my head against that brick wall in the desert…
All of that was in a car, but trying it a second time and to go into detail about your options, you can also drive/ride either a bike, truck, quad bike or 5×5. I first chose the quad bike and since you don’t have a co-pilot, you can save your ears! But, the quad bike is like driving a car without a steering wheel every time you go over a dune and it decides to drive in whichever direction it fancies.
The 5×5 was easiest to steer, but after a number of races across all the vehicles, I still wasn’t excited by this game. It didn’t help that loading a level in takes forever, and since it’s all meant to be in the game’s memory, I have no idea how it can take so long and why it’s not instant.
Even before that, when you’re on the main menu and it says “Please wait” as it loads in a new stage, it sticks at 0%, not counting up at all… then suddenly it’s fully loaded in.
There is a chance that I’m wrong, and that this is the Gran Turismo of rally games, in that there’s a lot of the complexities I’m just not *getting* as I want a more arcade-like experience, such as that found in V-Rally 4, and if that’s the case, please let me know in the comments below.
- Developer: Big Moon Entertainment
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Players: Single player, multiplayer
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.