Released: 27, February 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose
Gravel is Milestone’s newest off-road racer, following the trend of naming it after a surface, just like the Dirt series. But is it fair to compare it with that franchise?
First time I saw Gravel was during Gamescom in Cologne, where we attended last year. And I was instantly curious about it, and what it had to offer. Milestone is best known for series like Superbike, MotoGP, MXGP and FIA WRC in recent years, which made it even more interesting. And with FIA WRC being the main competitor to the Dirt series for years, until Dirt changed to not only be about rally but also Supercross, and Off-Road racing it would naturally seems like Gravel is here to be the heir of that rivalry. But after playing Gravel i’m not so sure this is what they intended, but I will come back to that later.
There is not much to say about the graphics in Gravel, since there isn’t much to it. It’s by far not a bad looking game. But the cars in Gravel lack detail and the lighting is sub-par all the way through. The gravel coming off the spinning tires look weird, too, and the presentation feels corny and weird. But at least it runs smoothly, with no dips in framerate that I have noticed. And some of the surroundings is great, with mountains and forrest around you. Some of the tracks reminds you more of the Motorstorm series rather than the conventional off-road racing games.
Gravel feels as original a racing game can be, controls is straightforward easy to pick up. Accelerate, Brake, E-Brake, Steer and camera control and with a rewind button if you mess up to bad. It’s tight and responsive, but with a Arcade feeling when it comes to how the cars handle, and how surfaces impact the car. You can turn on and off assists, so anyone can pick up and play without any problems.
When it comes to the gameplay, Gravel is as simple as it comes but in a good way. It takes you back to the old-school racing games. No racing for money, and you don’t have to buy and upgrade cars. You race to win, and unlocks cars and tracks. In Career you race to get stars when certain requirements is cleared to unlock and to proceed. The game revolves around competing in a racing television program called Off-Road Masters. Each player must earn stars to move on to the next challenge. And you will sometimes meet “Legends” in the sport to race against in 1on1 races.
Among the different types of races or categories where the races are divided into there is not really anything that really sticks out but here you can find standard races, time trials, elimination races and something called “smash-ups” where you are alone on the track and you’re asked to crash into certain objects at certain specific times. This mode requires reflexes and patience and is in my opinion perhaps the most fun the game has to offer, but also the most frustrating.
This is an arcade racer through and through and it comes with that bouncy, super-quick and responsive feel of the cars from Sega Rally or Motorstorm. It never matters if you are driving a pickup truck or a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution rally car, Gravel always feels a certain way and the amount of grip that the cars in the game are generating is close to zero. Milestone should have given the cars a bit more weight, though.
You can spend hours in Gravel trying to set a higher score to get all the stars and unlock every car, track and livery. You can also go online and race against others, or if you like just race alone in custom races to hone your skills to prepare for the online portion. But it’s a matter of taste if you will continue to race after beaten the career, since you have tried out every mode there.
It’s a retro-style arcade racer focused on fun and with an easy-to-navigate structure that does away with a lot of the modern extras we’ve come to expect. It’s a bit plain then, but sometimes that’s just what you want. It needs polish though and could use some added weight to the cars.
But it can bring you hours of fun and is easy to pick up and play in the end. And gives us something you don’t have to use hours just to understand how everything works and how to play.
– The racing itself is enjoyable
– Great sense of speed
– Good tracks
– Varied modes.
– Physics lack weight
– Details in graphics
Replay Value: 7/10
Total Score: 7/10
“A great game, but something is missing, worth for fans of the genre”