So, let’s get two things out of the way since I’m reviewing a driving game. First, I am not a pro driver in any way and second, I like a good racing game and have played a few, but Mercedes AMG hasn’t been in touch yet; Yes, there is a trophy for crashing and yes that was my first trophy.
Now down to what V-rally 4 has to offer. You start the game with an introduction from your agent, more on that later and then you are straight into a practice rally session (this is where I got my crash trophy). Once that is completed you are shown through the home hub, your go-to between races and navigating between the different areas of the game.
The activity Hub displays all the races available for you to take part in neatly presented on a map and with a different star rating for their difficulty, so you know what the AI will be like. You can select each one to see what your potential winnings are, the entry cost and the class of race. V-rally 4 has 5 different race categories, each needing a vehicle that fits that class and a different driving approach;
- Rally – typical rally course with your co-driver giving you instructions as you wait for the perfect time to pull the handbrake
- V-rally – a mix of gravel and tarmac courses where you will find yourself bumping with the AI more than the safety tyre walls
- Hill climb – take control of some high-powered cars while you race from A to B uphill, no co-driver here
- Buggy – this is as chaotic as you would expect from buggy races as you race around some challenging terrain courses with big jumps
- Extreme-Khana – the fun mode as you drift round crazy courses while avoiding cones to set the best time possible
The second part of the learning on the go tutorial is the recruitment and crew management tab. Here you get to grips with the team outside of the car and the impact they have on the game. The agent you recruit comes with benefits such as reduced parts cost, more of a certain category of race or lower entry fees, the mechanic crew impacts the cost of repairs and the time needed to fix your car between race stages and your research crew made up of engineers influence the time needed to fine-tune and enhance a cars performance with upgrades. You can recruit higher level staff as you progress which has better stats and helps your progression.
Then on to the dealers’ section where you might have guessed, you can purchase an array of cars each dedicated to one of the five racing categories. It is listed as having over 50 cars to choose from but while I played I could only see 30, this may be because some were still locked but it shows you will have access to a good variation of cars. Once you own a car you can upgrade the normal parts such as gearbox, engine, bodywork and this is the same across all the cars. There are very limited customization options for each of the cars, so you can’t really make them feel personal to you as you can only select from a few pre-designed liveries.
The final section is the online hub which I never got to take part in due to it being before release, but this area offers you a chance to complete online across the different categories you have in the single player mode and try to make your way up leaderboards.
Your main objective in this game though is to become a World Champion in each of the racing categories. To do this you just enter race after race until a championship appears on your activity hub. However, if you stick to a single category long enough, you start to notice there aren’t too many courses and the slight variations of these courses aren’t enough to make them feel different. A lack of any real weather system as well becomes noticeable as you are either race during the day or night on courses you are already pretty familiar with.
A mechanic that I liked was the ability to adjust the level of the AI for each by a percentage bar offering you to take home less or more money at the end of the race. It makes the game more accessible for anyone who might need a few practices to get the hang of rally driving.
Taking all of this into account and it doesn’t really feel like you are playing a career mode as you jump between categories and cars without any impact and find yourself just waiting for the next championship opportunity to appear. You may have an agent but once the introduction is out of the way they are just there to give you a pretty unnoticeable benefit. I never really felt attached to what I was doing, and I think that is a shame. Add this to the forgettable crew management element and you just find yourself grinding races to buy the next car or upgrade to enter the same race again to hopefully get the championship shot.
Is this the best driving game out there? No, but it isn’t the worst. The graphics are good, driving physics are not too bad but switching between categories takes some adjustments and the amount of content is good. I would say V-Rally 4 is a driving game for anyone, not just die-hard driving game fans.
I would recommend the game for anyone who might not want to jump into a serious simulator just yet. V-Rally 4 is a fun rally game that offers a good number of races to do and being able to adjust the AI means you can tackle the game at your own pace. However, if you are looking for something closer to the real thing then I would suggest looking at some of the bigger titles like Dirt 4 or GT Sport.
For the trophy hunters out there, this does have a platinum and a total of 50 trophies. I managed 17 while playing for this review and all the trophies look easy enough. Most are a complete this action X number of times, so it will be a time demanding platinum rather than a skill based one which sums up V-Rally 4 for me.
V-Rally 4 is a good game but with so many excellent driving games on the market it may struggle to stand out. The different racing categories are a nice touch but are lost in the cycle of waiting for the championship race to appear.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*