There have been several games that do have some rather cliché names, such as; Revelations, Payback, and many others, and while Dirt has taken the title of “Most on the nose driving game title” there is a strong competitor with Gravel by Milestone studios. Now, Milestone track record with racing games is especially checked. Most were average, and others were just bland and lacked compared to their competitors. But let’s see if Gravel makes the podium or stalls at the start.
So, with Gravel it got a healthy amount of content with 16 locations and 41 tracks including some real-world Rallycross tracks. Which is a nice amount to blast around in the 46 cars that are available from 600hp Rallycross cars to modern Rally greats like Subaru and Mitsubishi and to the Group B monsters of the 1980s. Now, there is the usual free races, time trial to practice to your heart’s content, and also multiplayer, which do offer party games as well including King which does take some pages from Forza, but a fun system though a tad vacant.
The main headline is with the career mode aptly named Off-Road Masters which takes you around the world competing in events as you progress to the final championship which along the way you will face some special drivers who specialize in certain events like Trophy Trucks and Rallycross. Now if you’re expecting realism like real rallycross rules then really, you’re in the wrong place. It pretty much simple bog-standard racing from point to point, and circuits whenever it’s against others or the clock, though there is a checkpoint race where it takes influences from the TV show Takeski’s castle where you run into doors and while some are breakable, and others are solid walls. Take that and apply it to checkpoints that spice up the action as you are changing your lines to take the path of least resistance.
The commentator/narrator who comments before and after the race is rather annoying and sounds like a presenter for a gardening show going by the catchy name they gave to the fictional broadcaster “Gravel Channel”. Added with timed events and expected downloadable content on the horizon there is plenty there in-terms of content and game modes to sink your teeth into.
With the gameplay itself its more arcade like with its handling but relatively consistent with its physics, so it does feel like I know what the car is doing all the time where in the case of the back stepping out which does happen a lot. And there is a notable grip difference between surfaces from tarmac to dirt and snow and sand. Though in races the performance of the cars does factor which can be infuriating from the start when the other car has a considerable horsepower advantage on a fast track which can be infuriating.
The AI is alright, average at very best, the main issue is that they tend to be too cautious and just hang off the bumper most of the time. Overall it reminds me of a few games from Forza, to Dirt 2 and Motorstorm as well. There is a sense of progression as the more races and wins you collect the more cars that are unlocked and liveries as well. All and all the gameplay is fun, and the game does remind me of a more modern SEGA Rally myself.
The game itself in terms of performance is okay at push, while there weren’t game breaking bugs there were some physics cockups with collisions mainly which were humorous though a bit frustrating when slows you down during the races. The graphics once again fall into the “okay” category, as they’re not fully mind-blowing but handsome enough. Luckily, no framerate slack and stays consistent enough to race is a tick in the box for me.
There have been issues during our playthrough, Graphics while alright but compared to its competition does lack in that sense, and the commentator is rather lacklustre in charisma and does sound rather sleepy with the delivery of his dialogue. A huge point though, – fuck me sideways if I ever hear the words “Gravel Channel” ever again I’ll drink myself to death trying to forget that a fictional broadcasting organization is called by that name. With the multiplayer, while fun and satisfactory does seem rather vacant with players which can be a bummer when all the career mode is done and dusted. While the boss battles in the main career mode are enjoyable the live action characters that portray the individual drivers do look like boy-band rejects and really doesn’t work for me.
Compared to Need for Speed: Payback which is more arcade in the sense that celebrities from the 1970s weren’t all clean as a whistle – meaning its way better. So, if you need a racing fix then it’s a viable candidate for the podium for this year in my view. Now can we return to the name of the game “Gravel” it really does sound like a name for a gardening show – and a crap name for a game.
Overall Gravel is a fun game, with fun gameplay with consistent physics with the car which do provide an easy to read driving experience, and with a fun career mode and game modes to complement including multiplayer and with some depth and progression unlocking more cars and tracks to blast around. Though some issues with lack of players in multiplayer, and some small personal tropes with the game, but compared to the competition of games from Codemasters it does hold its own with the content it provides and with the gameplay itself which I see more arcade sense than the simcade that Codemasters provide but does lack in the presentation department personally in terms of graphics and visuals.
- Consistent physics
- Decent career mode
- Fun game modes
- Dead multiplayer
- Ropey graphics
- Annoying commentator
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0