Gravel throws you tyres first into the world of off-road racing. Putting you right behind the wheel of a Toyota Celica. Foot to the metal charging through a course taking you from the forests to the beach. Gravel sets up to impress you from the get-go. Sturdy in-house rock and metal accompany your journey. Drive stylish, pulling out drifts and over jumps are encouraged earning Show points which function as the titles method for progress.
The meat on the bones of Gravel is spent in ‘Off Road Masters’. Presenting itself as an episodic career, campaigning through 16 episodes to claim your prize in the Grand finale. A selection of tracks with challenges and objectives form part of each episode, unlocking Stars. Stars work to unlock progress to the next episode. Race locations take you around the world, with a variety of exotic landscapes, tracks and weathers being thrown your way. Master challenges are also set in front of player, with rival racers each competing to hold their title. Effectively Boss Battles! Gravel sets up an interesting concept, that thrusts you straight in.
Pleasantly there is a SSX/Burnout DJ Atomicka like voiceover, albeit sounds like he works for the BBC. Before and after each race calling out encouragement and information about the course provided. The ingredients of something special are all here.
Handling of the cars is greatly varied, more than 50 from the worlds top manufacturers are represented. The difference feeling the weight of a hefty 4 wheel drive compared to a rear wheeler.
Rumbling triggers accentuate the engine and the vibrate of the controller to each nudge. You feel part of the action. Each of the licensed cars features a working dashboard for the driver view for all the cars on offer.
A vehicle line up is available before each race, whilst only giving you an initial motor for that race type. Motivating you to unlock more. With the requirement clear and concise what needs to be achieved, ranging from reaching a certain level, completing a special episode beating a Master and so forth. Enticing you to come back for better times and rewards on courses you have already raced upon.
Episodes are complete with a number of challenges to overcome, rewarding the successful player with Stars. Flatout lap races, sprint, checkpoint flag, championship with a succession of races for points. Gravel than holds back on the head to head action for the Boss Battles against the Masters in a series of 3 challenges.
Before each race, Race Options gives the player the ability to tailor for higher bonuses. Turning off the brake help, toning down that traction control toggling the damage from cosmetic to active damage. Risking your skill for greater rewards. Each vehicle can before each race, can be further customized from brakes to the tyres. Gravel offers a great deal for the tinkerer to play with.
Graphics are for the most part very high, Unreal Engine 4 providing the umph offering great car models and stunning looking courses. Fidelity comes into view when up close and personal, objects including shadows and textures phase into view whilst your foot is down. Objects such as trees and flags have that distinct crosshatching until they become closer up. This is not so much of a sacrifice as the frame rate rarely drops in consistency even with cars piling up into a corner. There’s a trade-off. It has been mentioned there were seeking to implement a better output for the mid-generation consoles. XBOXONEX and PS4 Pro, in an interview from March 2017 with the head of game design Irvin Zonca, at Milestone with RedBulls Phil Barker.
XBOX Live features up Matchmaking and match creator for friends and foes to challenge on. Support 12 players at the same time. Gravel fleshes out something new for the racing genre, with the inclusion of Capture The Flag! Downloadable Content, featuring Car Packs to purchase and free downloads also. Taking a nod from the likes of service games, keeping the player in their game. Gravel brings weekly challenges – a set challenge with a time to beat, featuring a set car with a prize pool of 100,000 Show points.
OUT OF 10 CONCLUSION
Gravel is an enjoyable experience offering more than a little something for everyone, whether it’s your first racing title or an off-road connoisseur. Fitting both suits, with pick up and play arcade go accessibility with the options to become an engaging sim with a vast amount of variety to satisfy the most difficult race fan. There’s much here and formulas at work, that players will already be accustom to, that it has a familiar feeling. Taking a sprinkling of what is known to be popular is a good strategy, then adding your personal spin. There’s definitively a 90s/00s arcade-like vibe throughout. No one has really delivered the SEGA Rally and V-Rally experience since, so there’s fresh fertile ground to race on. I believe the Toyota Celica being put in your hands straight away is intentional. Gamers will like the Episodic Off Road Masters, completing progressively in challenges to obtain access to the next episode. The character of the Masters is fun, it detracts from it being just another race type. It provides personality. In racing themed titles, personality is rarely a feature. Currently I’m engaged in working through the remaining episodes and taking down these Masters. Haven’t found the game being unfair to me as the player. AI tends keeps to driving lines, giving you an advantage to taking tighter corners. Online racing offers players way to set up tracks, selecting unlocked cars. Tinkering with the setup and options to your hearts content before revving up at the start line. Gravel looks sets to become a continuing series.
A SOLID 7.5 – 10. WELL ABOVE AVERAGE! GRAVEL IS THROWING ITS DRIVING GLOVE ON THE TABLE, A TABLE ALREADY FULL OF MANY GLOVES. IT IS NOT ON TOP, BUT IT DOES KNOCK A FAIR FEW ON THE FLOOR WITH ITS FAST PACED ACTION.
GRAVEL AVAILABLE ON Playstation 4, XBOXONE, PC
XBOXONE Version reviewed.