Preview: Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Rally games are something of a niche these days, but I still remember back when I used to watch my dad playing Colin McRae Rally on the old PlayStation One. I could never play it myself; I didn’t have the patience or the skill, nor did I understand what the co-driver was talking about. These days, I’m not much different. I don’t watch my Dad play anymore, but I’m still turd at rally games, and I still have no idea what the co-driver is chatting.

However, I’ve found myself quite enjoying Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO over the last few days. It’s not because it’s simple and easy, but it’s because I’m no longer a dopey child. Instead, I’m a dopey man who has spent years refining his hand-eye coordination with a game pad. I went into Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO expecting to be pretty decent due to my ability to pull off some sick drifts in Driveclub and Forza 6, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Rally games are a completely different beast and they need to be treated as such. Sure, other racers might let you slam into the side of the track before resetting you back into place, but Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO will let you go flying down a cliff if you smash the accelerator on a corner. It’s a constant struggle for survival, or at least that’s what it felt like. The track that was present in the demo code was a winding one that put you against yourself, not other racers. I’ve played the same track over and over to try and beat my best times. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bit of a simpleton, but I actually quite enjoy soloing against myself.

It’s not easy, though, and there’s frustration at every bend. The best way I can describe it is that you’re constantly navigating a piece of thread through a needle, but instead of there being just one needle there are dozens. One wrong move and you’re buggered, basically. The game does have a neat little feature that allows you to rewind time should you make a mistake, but I tried to use it as sparingly as possible as it just felt a little bit like cheating. On my first couple of runs I was constantly tapping the L1 button to initiate a rewind as I got used to the feel of the rally car, but after a few hours of practice I found braking early and turning into a corner to be second nature.

It’s simple fun, but that’s just the demo. The full game promises a lot more content and many more race options. I’m not sure I’ll be so confident going head to head with others, but for the time being I’m quite content to mosey along with the track I know like the back of my hand.

Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO releases on January 29th for the PS4, Xbox One, and will also release on Steam. You can buy your copy here from Amazon. [?]

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