After a 16 year wait, the Godfather of arcade rally games is back; V-Rally returns with its 4th entry ready to take on the racing heavyweights once again. Ever since I set eyes on the launch trailer I have been waiting to get my hands on this, brace yourselves… this is the review; read on to see if it was worth the wait!
Developed by KT Racing
Published by Bigben Interactive
Available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC, delayed until 2019 on Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on PS4
Price: £49.99 ($59.99) (Standard Edition)
Last time I played a V-Rally game it was on the PS2. Now, V-Rally (4) is back in full glorious HD; when I received the review code I felt literally like a kid at Christmas as V-Rally has long been my favourite racing franchise. I am normally cautious when it comes to sequels (especially with a 16 years gap) as they are usually nowhere near as good as the original. With that in mind, I don my helmet and dive head first into the review.
As the game loads up, you are greeted by the sound of a revving engine getting your blood pumping from the off, getting a feeling that this is not really going to be a sit back and relax type of game, but a “on the edge of your seat with white knuckles” type of game instead.
First off you get to thrash a VW Polo through a dusty dirt rally track putting your skills to the test and showing if you have what it takes to master the V-Rally world. The handling at first is quite difficult to master and you will find yourself stuck in a ravine or up against a rock face on quite a few occasions. I will just take a moment to mention the stunning scenery of each track and detail put into every turn; I did get distracted a few times and found myself off the track forgetting what I was actually doing.
Choosing to jump into V-Rally mode, which is basically a story or career mode where you get to pick your discipline and rise to the top. You get to choose from Rally, Buggy, Hillclimb, Rallycross, and Extreme Khana, now here is where the game mixes a simulation feel to it as you are guided by Nancy, your agent, through the choices you can make and talking around the main menu map or HQ as it’s called. First, it’s over to the info board that gives you all the info on upcoming races, crew management (more on that shortly), your garage and online rankings. Your first event is a Rallycross race putting you in the seat of the awesome Ford Focus RS, unfortunately, this is only a loan car you are taken to the dealer page after the race. The different dealers sell the cars for different disciplines so you have a dealer for Rally and one for Rallycross and so on, you need to be careful here as the car you pick sets the discipline you start with. So basically you start off with limited choices like most racing games and the more choices become available, the more you progress through the mode.
You have one to choose from in the Rallycross dealership which is the Renault Alpine, quite a feisty car but hard to get to grips with. Rally gives you more choices with a host of classic cars on offer including the Mini Cooper and the classic Ford Escort RS 1600 to name a couple. When you pick your car you are then offered sponsor contracts giving you bigger bonuses when completing the relevant tasks. I chose to go with Rallycross as it has been my favourite throughout the series.
Now you get to compete in your first race, this gives you a feel of your car and the racers on the track, but be careful as they aren’t the most forgiving of AI racers… one bump and you can find yourself spinning off into the last place (trust me, it happens), my tip here is to master the drift and once you do that, you will be winning races in no time. After the race you find out the business end of the game as you now are driving your own car you also need to pay for your own repairs so best to be careful out there, when you go back to HQ you are taken to the info board and the recruitment page as you are now required to hire staff to help you on your quest for champion status. You need to hire everything from mechanic staff to research staff and agents, the better the staff you hire the better the performance but this also comes with a price as the better staff you hire the more you pay out in salaries at the end of the week. Now you can either save the credits you earn to get more cars when they become available in your discipline or others available in different disciplines such as Buggy and Rally, don’t forget the better the ride the better the rewards as you can race in tougher races to gain more credits. All in all, I found the VRally mode a very in depth and enthralling mode to play and I will no doubt be playing it for many hours after unlocking all the cars and different decals is a whole lot of fun.
The best way to get hold of all 52 cars and all the track locations is to hit the Quick Race option which basically unlocks everything for you to blast through until your heart is excited. Check out the video below to see all the cars you can race on V-Rally 4;
My favourite disciplines are Rallycross and Extreme Khana, there’s just something thrilling about sending your favourite rides sideways around tracks and drifting past airplanes, it kind of makes you smile. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all the disciplines that VRally offers, however, I find the Buggy races a bit on the difficult side but I think that is more down to my lack of skill rather than the game itself, a few times I was in the lead and hit a sweet jump, miss-timed it and failed the landing in epic style sending me right back to last place but, to be fair, it never made me want to give up and was still a whole load of fun.
The Rally mode for me blows all the other games in this genre out the water, the styling and vibe of it just feels right. I also dipped my toe into the multiplayer mode and played a few races split screen utilising my favourite couch co-op with my son, we dramatically failed and got nowhere near winning but there was plenty of laugh out loud moments as we both went flying off the tracks, we did start to win races but just having a personal competition was a lot more fun and we enjoyed the whole experience.
I played a few rallies in the online mode which puts you against others in a normal rally and the other racers are like ghost cars where you are able to all challenge each other to beat times. I found this an enjoyable way to play the game and was impressed with the format, I wasn’t waiting around in lobbies for ages for games as there seems to be plenty of support online for the game which is definitely a good thing.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of V Rally 4 are a knockout; everything is smooth and crystal clear from the trees right to the mud and dirt sticking to your car. All the cars are detailed and although fully licensed they don’t have the licensed decals but then if you want that try the WRC games. I didn’t find a fault at all with the graphics and found the tracks and weather authentic and challenging. All the sounds are spot on right from the roaring engine at the first loading screen, all the car noises are authentic and that adds a lot to the full experience.
To summarise V-Rally 4, I absolutely loved it, there is no fault I could find nor did I want to find any. I have waited 16 years for this sequel and boy, it was worth the wait. BigBen and KT Racing have pulled it right out the bag. If you have a console and you have a petrol head side, you NEED to get this in your collection, trust me, you will not be disappointed. This has settled quite nicely at the top of my Top 10 for 2018 and I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes in the future.