We haven’t seen a V-Rally game since 2002 with the third instalment hitting the Playstation 2. Fast forward 16 years and we are lucky enough to be graced with V-Rally 4. Will it be a return to the top? Or has that time out really affected the gaming franchise that Kylotonn wants to bring back to life? Lets find out!
As you can expect from a racing game, the game is all about racing (obvs), but how does it feel? Well lets start off by saying that it feels decent. Its not up to the same standards as other racing games like DiRT and the F1 series, but it holds its own as an arcade feel racer. The cars are twitchy and responsive when you get the hang of them. Don’t expect to be able to throw the cars around corners without a fight though.
Within V-Rally 4 there are a number of disciplines that you can get your hands on, including Rally, V-Rallycross, Hill Climb, Buggy and finally Extreme-Khana. Each discipline has their own selection of vehicles to chose from, from classic Fords, all the way up to souped up rally machines. V-Rally 4 brings a great variety for you to choose from.
So the majority of your time will be spent in the V-Rally mode of V-Rally 4, this effectively is a career mode that guides you through creating your own rally empire. Starting the mode you are greeted with a world map showing you colour coded icons representing the available races to you. These get progressively more the further you get into the career. Covering all types of surfacing from tarmac to snow there is enough of a challenge within these events to keep you coming back to V-Rally 4 time and time again. When you first start your career the events are free to enter, however pretty quickly you start having to pay for your entry, so you have to take each event seriously and fire up those concentration sections of your brain, because one false more or one miscommunication of the race information could cause you to lose valuable seconds.
On this screen you can also handle your recruitment of team members, including engineers, research teams and your own personal agent. Each possible recruit comes with their own specialist talent. This varies from getting better events with greater rewards, through to specific expertise on a particular car park. So chose your team wisely.
Then we move onto the dealers, this is where each of the games disciplines have their car collection represented. Feel like buying a new car, then head here, chose your discipline and see whats on offer. You can even take them for a test drive allowing you to actually sample how the car handles before investing your hard earned money into purchasing.
So head into your home by clicking on the house icon, you are greeted with a series of other options, the infoboard, where all your messages are and any potential sponsorships are, the crew management where you can check on your current team, garage where all your cars are stored, and where you can upgrade these and even customise to a degree. Finally you have the online rankings, so if you venture online and post a time then the records are kept here for you to check out quickly and without delay.
So far playing the game my favourite events are the Hill Climb. You are put in control of a powerful vehicle that has grip in abundance and flying through the courses whipping the rear end around the tight bends is a joy when you get it right! Get it wrong though, and you could be tumbling back down the hill pretty quickly.
You are also able to select a quick game, which allows you to pick whatever you want, and on what course you want. Then you have the multiplayer section which will allow you to either do split screen, or go online and take on people from all over the world.
The graphics are a mixed bag. On one hand V-Rally 4 represents the car models and environments brilliantly. With accurate details on the vehicles and particle effects in abundance when you are driving through different surfaces.
Then it gets let down by the damage model. Unlike other rally games, V-Rally 4 seems to adopt a more conservative option, and even after sending my car rolling down the track its still in one piece. The bodywork may be slightly deformed, but in general there is no visible signs of damaged bodywork, but a large dent.
The sound effects are perfectly acceptable, there is however nothing stand out about the sound on V-Rally 4. The cars sound good, the race commentary from your co-driver is spot on and there are even some crowd sounds now and again as you go through busier parts of the tracks.
This all depends how much you enjoy racing games I guess. You could quite easily sink plenty of hours into playing V-Rally 4 and not even notice it. Taking on some of the longer tournament style races can see almost an hour disappear.
Overall V-Rally 4 is a decent return to the franchise, and maybe with another couple of iterations we could get something special. For the time being V-Rally 4 just leaves something short and doesnt quite hit the ground running.
V-Rally 4 receives the Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: We received a digital code to complete our review