For anyone brought up with the sweet smell of diesel filling their nostrils in the morning and the soothing sound of engines humming them to sleep at night, the name Sébastien Loeb is at once a prayer, a praise and a plea. If however, your experience of rally racing has been limited to Colin McCray’s outings on the PS3 and Xbox 360, here’s a quick heads up:
Frenchman and former gymnast Sébastien Loeb is officially the most titled racing driver ever. Period. With eight consecutive FIA World Rally Drivers’ titles, Loeb has moved ahead of seven-time champions Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi in terms of major motorsport championships won.
So now you know. With a reputation and driving prowess that make him virtually untouchable on the rally circuit, it was just a matter of time before The Legend That is Loeb was finally awarded the Holiest of Holies: a game with his name on it.
As a rally title, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, developed by Italian powerhouse Milestone , delivers an immersive racing experience that will challenge even the most skilled player. With a total of 15 different game modes ranging from rallies to skill-based races against the clock, 8 different rallies, 64 special stages, and 5 Rallycross circuits, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to test your expertise and patience as a racing ace.
Although far from being a bad game, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo misses the mark of being a great rally game. We’ll touch on this later. But if you’ve played Milestones previous racing offerings in the WRC racing franchise or any of the MotoGP series you’ve come to expect a solid, functional and technically efficient racer. Nothing more nothing less. And Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo holds true to that formula. With this game you’re given the task of working your way up a career leader board from the lowly ranks of the 401st spot to being numero uno. You do this by racing and earning Reputation. You are awarded reps by how you perform in events and how high up you finish in races.
The downside here is that, while you climb slowly up the leader board, your rival racers remain static. No matter how well they do in the races. The inescapable conclusion is that it’s not a matter of if you can get to the top, rather it’s a case of how long it’s going to take you to make it.
The racing itself in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is a pretty mixed affair. With a plethora of racing aids to ease your progression around the tracks, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo tries very hard to cater for racers of all levels. However, the cars occasionally suffer from poor handling physics which make it sometimes frustratingly difficult to race in a straight line even on asphalt. In fairness, it could be that some cars are extremely difficult to control even with a minimum of acceleration. But in a racing game (even a sim title), this could have been tightened up a little to make the game more accessible for players.
Graphically, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo does what it says on the tin. The game offers a decent graphical representation of 58 cars. Whether you’re racing in the car or above it, the graphics are polished and fairly well detailed. Dust kicks up in your wake, sunlight often blinds you in just the right way, and your car shows damage in the manner you would expect from a technically proficient racer.
The in-game audio also help to reinforce the impression that you’re immersed in a real race. The engine noises are throaty and testosterone fuelled and your co-drivers instructions are nice and clear. Musically, Milestone are convinced that anyone who loves racing must be rock music fans and have only offered fairly forgettable rock tracks with the game. Thankfully the on-screen driving prompts are large enough to allow gamers to choose a silent racing experience should they desire.
One mode of Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo that we really enjoyed has to be the Loeb Experience events. Here you’re tasked with replicating 27 events in the legends stellar 18 year career. Each event is preceded with a video interview with the man himself which really gives an insight into the world of one of rally racing’s most engaging and likable personalities. The Loeb Experience events themselves range from simply winning a race to finishing with an average speed of over 100mph. Excellent.
Despite the welcome addition of the Loeb Experience, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo remains a good rally game rather than being a great one. The game lacks the variety we’ve come to expect from racing titles and idiosyncratic features such as Forza’s ability to simply explore / worship the insides of your car are sadly missing.
However, if you’re a fan of rally car racing or are just curious to find out what the fuss is all about, then Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is a good way to while away over 30 hours of your life. With perhaps a bigger budget and more development time, we’re confident that Milestone has the skills and expertise to establish itself in pole position in what is a highly competitive genre.
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