Jumping into the seat of a big new shiny PS4 release always excites me, but when that release comes with four wheels, over 50 cars, 300 km of track and has twice as much content as any other rally game in existence, I start to drool. Milestone leave Superbikes in the trailer park for their latest release and turn instead to the gritty world of powersliding, tight windy lanes and sweeping dusty tracks to supply its thrills. Heading the title with one Sébastien Loeb who has consecutively won nine world championships, Milestone have made sure you’re in good hands.
Flicking through the menus you’ll notice just how much content there is on offer. Sébastien Loeb takes you down many a country lane and back. In fact he takes you on one long tour and saturates you with rally talk, statistics, and historic motors too. From the best rally cars from the past until the present day, Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo comes oozing with depth.
Toggling between the six different views, bouncing against stone clad walls and skimming through shimmering puddles certainly gives your co-driver a reason to forget reading his pacenotes. The timed checkpoint sections cover a host of different racing environments to try your luck at. Gravel, tarmac, wet tracks and iced surfaces keep those senses tingling with every single stage and circuit based on real tracks. But this rally is not just about you and a stopwatch. Sector Battle, Rally Drift, Pikes Peak and Elimination events keep gameplay fresh and interesting and ensure you are glued to the wheel. There are 15 different game modes complete with the ‘Loeb experience’, where you can relive an entire career, 8 rally tracks, 64 special stages and 5 rallycross circuits. Certainly more content than you can waggle a gear knob at.
The cars themselves don’t come across as graphically breathtaking as you would hope, but the car physics shine. Navigating though each course with near perfect handling shows you Milestone have pushed this to the limit. Environmental hazards impact the way the car handles; splashing through puddles and veering off track causes some hairy moments with lack of tire grip, and smacking into the odd tree and hurtling down a cliff bring a new meaning to the words “off road racing”.
The 50 plus cars available to hurl around the tracks range from 165hp Peugeots to 300hp Citroen rally cars. If you can’t afford your dream car then there’s the opportunity to rent something special for a race too. Checking into the photo mode can be creative and lets you snap away some unburned fuel exiting the exhaust if you’re lucky. Sébastien Loeb Rally delivers some pretty brutal car damage; missing a windscreen or realising you only have three wheels really throws a spanner into the works and stops a race win. Thankfully the forgiving rewind button puts heed to that problem. You’ll want to throw your car into hairpin bends, take some air and kick up as much dust as possible, and this rally game lets you do all this in abundance.
The options screen allows for some tinkering in the handling and gameplay department, which lets you play to suit your requirements. Talent, passion and dedication made Sébastien Loeb an indestructible force, but you can just hit ‘Easy’ to sort out the difficult AI. Job done? Not really, there’s a well constructed trophy list that while not a long grind, will require some skill to complete, and thankfully there’s no crazy online marathon taking the sting out of an enjoyable trophy hunt.
Winning races earns you credits and reputation points, and it’s up to you which path you want to take to climb the world rankings. If you’ve played Milestone’s last biking release, RIDE, you’ll be familiar with the ranking system and layout. Different races require different types of rally cars to enter. Opt to try your hand at the Vintage Rally and you’ll need the 1972 Lancia Fulvia. While at the other end of the spectrum entering the Extreme Rally will see you blowing 460000 credits on the Ford Fiesta RS. Money well spent.
The tracks themselves look gorgeous and lifelike. The snow-capped mountains in the Nordics, the dusty outback in Australia and the intense windy roads of Wales totally hit the mark. Win more races to gain more rep and you’ll be speeding though locations in faster more exciting rally cars. Expect to be covering that brake pedal just a tad more.
Solid and highly enjoyable rallying with an incredible backdrop of content, Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo have given you a fine part sim part arcade racer. A rally experience that tests your skills to the maximum yet also caters for the Sunday driver too. Tight, fast and tense, welcome to a steamroller of a rally game.
Lizard Rating 8/10