Take to the tracks on gravel and tarmac and defeat the discipline champions to become the ultimate master of Gravel, but is it as good as we want it to be?
- Developer: Milestone
- Publisher: Milestone
- Genre: Off road racing
- Release Date: 27th Feb 2018
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
- Reviewed on: Xbox one S
- Game Supplied by: Microsoft
Since Gravel was announced and like many other dirt style or rally games I have been yearning for the one that fills the void of good fun rallying mixed with some circuits, customisation, career progression and gave you that feeling of games like Sega Rally in the arcade. Now on the face of it Gravel hits all those points but it’s how they have been delivered that’s the issue.
Gravels basic concept is “is the ultimate off-road experience, an extreme racing game that will let you pull out amazing stunts in the wildest places on the planet! Pure fun, spectacular scenery and no-holds barred competition in many offline and online game modes”
And some may say that they have achieved this, some of the jumps are amazing, coming round a fast corner hitting a ominous jump thinking here we go another 2 foot jump only to have a ravine underneath you 2 seconds later and in almost slow motion your stare at the beautiful scenery as you come crashing back to the ground. So yeah wild places and spectacular scenery, well done on that part but you knew it was coming that’s about the fun of it all summed up.
4 different race scenarios (see about above) make up the games core and in career you get to experience them all very early on in some extremely easy to drive vehicles and again on the face of it these are good fun, elimination, time challenges, vs races, to name a few and I can lay down some praise here as it gives you the opportunity to tweak the difficulty over the first 10 races or so before the vehicles get more powerful, tracks get a little harder, sliding round corners becomes easier to pull off (due to power) and generally the games difficulty increases, the issue is, it’s just not fun. They have tried to make it fun and as mentioned on the face of it it sounds fun but reading and playing are two completely different things.
A three star system is in place to push you to win your races and earn maximum points to progress through the career, but to be honest when a win earns you 100000 points but sliding, driving at high speed and jumping only fetches 20000 in a game I can see little point in the “tricks and style” point being here at all. Many cars are so slow that you can’t drift/slide or even get to a top speed and you’ll get as low as 8000 points. So again compared to winning, a potentially good idea does nothing for the game.
I thought that having over 50 tracks was really good, varied locations with as previously mentioned good scenery is just massively let down by the quality of the graphics. As you can no doubt see from my videos in this review and screenshots (all taken off Xbox) they are blurry and lack any detail and definition, it’s like watching tv again but not in HD. I can’t say how disappointed I was with the visuals the detail is better in the menus as you will see but even there it’s as if they are going for a worn look to the game, but when races start, cars aren’t blurry they are clean and crisp, after a few laps dirt ridden and scuffed perhaps but not blurry, but enough on that I think you’ve got my point.
Race time! The core of the game aaaaaaand no still no better, on paper this should be great fun but it’s slow, and whilst the speedo may say your doing 180kmh it feels more like 10 no matter what car you are in but if you drive the 800bhp trucks in the arena or quarry then it might just be 10kmh. Handling isn’t much better either every car feels very unresponsive and lacks that bond between game and player where you feel the car on the track and slide into corners looking to keep it on the edge and drift on the slippery gravel. It’s more like mud and you’ve got a digger slowly trodding along, imagine trying to slide a digger round a long bend…. Cant can you! that’s what Gravel has achieved.
In addition to this other elements are not exactly great, hit a wall of tyres and you would hope for a few to fly off but no they act like rocks in disguise hit them and you stop! Barriers can be slammed with no consequences (the non brakers eyes just lit up reading this)
The cars can even block your view if your using behind car view, as shown in my video below, all basic elements that contribute to missing the mark for Gravel.
Having tried 20+ cars and only 1 even remotely giving a feel of enjoyment despite turning tcs (traction control system) and stm (stability management) off hoping it made a big enough difference Gravel just lost all sense of enjoyment after the first few races and despite persevering along the career eventually I am sad to say that all sense of potential enjoyment was lost and career mode was dead to me.
I moved onto the weekly challenge that on the week of release i tried and here is something that can be praised although not new to games these days as weekly challenges are being seen on more and more games of all genres but at least it gave me a rest bite to focus on but again it just lacked appeal once you achieved the goal.
Time trials are on offer but I personally only use them to master tracks but have not needed to do so as yet, and then there is a free race where you can make tweaks to the tracks and game to your heart’s content so i pushed the boundaries and instead of clear weather, made it snow, jumped in the most powerful lightweight car i could find and turned all assists off and it just about brought life into the race, but i still came first scored 100k points for the win and got 24k for style. It just really lacks in areas where it should excel and a game i was really looking forward to and hoping it was like dirt in that i could go back to again and again and just race for the pleasure of playing the game.
Sadly Gravel isn’t that game and whilst tweaking all the settings and race settings to make a better race the odd good race just isn’t enough to give this a thumbs up from me.
Gravel the visual issue
It could and should be fun but it’s been badly put together and many details have been missed that in this day and age of gaming and the quality on offer with the likes of unreal engine being used Gravel is very wide of the mark and despite it all being there on paper it isn’t laying it down on the track