Looking to harken back to an age of unlicensed rally games, Kylotonns have been released from the shackles of the WRC license to work on V-Rally 4, a throwback by name and design which, unfortunately, is not what you probably want. I missed the boat on the series so maybe the lack of reverence or nostalgia works in my favour. Maybe not.
V-Rally Mode offers the main course as you tackle several events as you look to rise through the ranks. You earn money from events that go towards new staff and vehicles. Events seem to populate at random although your agent can specialise in finding specific events. They come across a handful of disciplines from standard rally events and hill climbs to Extreme-Khana events which favour more flashy driving.
It’s worth buying cars in different disciplines for the sake of variety. I focused more on rally and the small selection of locales start to feel repetitive. It’s made worse by the sense of progression you’re given. You can accept contracts from manufacturers to complete additional objectives but your funding will mostly go towards new team members and upgrades. These upgrades seem essential as your trek through the mode feels slow. Even when acquiring new vehicles, you don’t really see the difference in performance. I’m baffled by my starter Lancia handling better than my modern alternatives. This inconsistency carries throughout the game and it makes the day-to-day V-Rally mode feel like a futile grind.
The quest for funding does seem to be lessened somewhat by the online component. These events cut out dealing with the AI and pits you against human beings. These events are thankfully populated which bodes well for actual multiplayer. The real clincher is how the financial rewards work out. These events are quite lucrative with bigger prize pools, lower barriers to entry and you can easily gain more money doing these than grinding offline content. You do have to foot the bill each time you enter but the money seems worth it.
I do happen to like how V-Rally 4 looks. There’s a colourful aesthetic at work that’s not over-saturated. Courses are detailed and feel designed, rather than prefabricated. I also love how the game portrays distance. I feel like it’s rare for a rally title to show you the road ahead but this helps give you a sense of scale whilst also giving you a helping hand towards upcoming turns and hazards. There’s a good use of lighting with time of day realistically effecting light levels.
Some environments work better than others. Siberia’s snow feels like a whitewash as you look for the red poles that mark track limits. Dipping through canyons at dusk can feel a little daunting. Overall, Kylotonn’s have kept a decent level of visual quality. This carries to the sound which, whilst not spectacular, does the job. It’s satisfying to hear your tyres skip over gravel and hear your brakes straining under heavy work. It’ll grate with many of the cars sharing the same sound files. It really takes away some of the individual feel of the car roster. There’s no little backfires, the cars don’t bottom out or sound like they’re interacting with the track. It’s a little cut back and bland.
The solitary music track for the menus will bear into your skull quick. It’s definitely a nod towards the game’s budget. Sadly, it doesn’t come with a budget price tag. I don’t see this as a product worth £50.
When it comes to handling, the first couple of tutorial events feel pretty good. You’re given a rally stage with a VW Golf which shows off a car that feels relatively planted and quick. This is followed by a Rallycross event which displays some decent head-to-head racing, even if the AI is a little aggressive. Unfortunately, it all seems to come apart when you start to add new vehicles to your garage. You anticipate some of the smaller cars to be nimble but the likes of the Mini Cooper and Abarth Fiat Punto feel underwhelming and a little bit of a handful.
If you’re looking to fine-tune your experience, whilst you can tweak car settings, actual driving aids are limited to enabling traction control and anti-lock brakes. The game recommended I play with traction control off which leads to a slippy time in some cars more than others. With it enabled, I’m not really noticing a huge difference in my car’s ability to hold the road. Damage is present but it seems pretty lenient. You can take plenty of knocks before performance is hit.
V-Rally 4 feels like a game short of an identity or focus. At times, it wants to be a more casual, forgiving rally experience but the handling proves a challenge to deal with. With little options for accessibility, it can become a slog against offline opposition. The online options do at least offer some hope and respite.
+ Interesting, varied track design.
+ A varied vehicle selection across many disciplines.
- Sound is bland and robs some cars of their individuality.
- V-Rally mode can become a grind.
- Lacks identity and character to stand out from other titles.