Name: Dakar 18
Developer: Bigmoon Entertainment
Publisher: Deep Silver
Released: 25.09.2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Acquired:  A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose

Bigmoon Entertainment clearly has tried to opt the pursuit of authenticity in Dakar 18. The big question is, did they achieve it?
Our story section has been removed since Dakar 18 doesn’t come with a campaign/story mode. 

Graphics

The graphics aren’t something to brag about these days. However, there are some minor details that do impress in a game such as this. But the overall look might deceive you, at first you might think this is a last-gen video game aka a title for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 era. In that case, I might even be impressed by the graphics. The textures are blurry, especially the environmental graphics. I know, there is little to describe as there is almost only sand, but the sand itself is blurry. Other models such as trees, building, well let’s put it this way, everything besides your own vehicle need more polishing.

Dakar18-screenshot_2

I will get back to this under the gameplay section as well, but the monotonic co-driver is a disaster. Not only is the voice acting a bit tedious, but it’s also incredibly confusing as well.
I mentioned that some minor details that did impress me, sadly those things can’t improve the overall look, but it’s a nice touch. Such as the lighting, shadows etc are beautiful to look at, and small details such as looking at your map in first person view, people counting down with their hands and so on.
5/10

Gameplay

Before you can even start your Dakar adventure, you must finish a tutorial like many other games. But be aware, this game is brutal, even on the easy/rookie difficulty. Navigating is one thing, but manageable once you learn how to read the “roadbook”. Controlling the car, however, is a whole new chapter. There were plenty of different situations where I got stuck in the mud, didn’t make the turn, crashed into the audience (I’m sorry…), those things are fine as long as there is a nice thing called a checkpoint. You can start over again manually if you think you’re lost etc, but if you drive too far, crash or simply destroy a part of your car you have to start all over again. (I really struggled with this in the beginning, making me really frustrated).

Once you’ve completed the tutorial, you can finally begin your adventure. You can choose from three different difficulty modes, Rookie, Competitor or Legend mode. In “Rookie mode”, you always have a dot on the on-screen direction guide marking where to go next, and a more focused directional indicator when you get close to the right area of terrain. To put it in a more simpler way, “Rookie mode” feels more as a unfinished arcade driving game with few helping indicators, and then comes to the “legend mode” where everything is brutally up to you figuring out the map, and I will totally recommend stopping listening to your co-driver, as he always gives you the wrong directions. This gives more challenge, but this mode doesn’t feel like an unfinished arcade driving game, but more like an unfinished driving simulator. This is one of the biggest issues I had with Dakar 18, the struggle to figure out what type of a driving game they aimed for.

Dakar18_Ari_Screenshot08

There are some diverse vehicles to choose from diverse familiar brands, such as Husqvarna. You can choose different vehicles such as cars, bikes, trucks, quads and SxS’s. And again, these models look great. But the controls and gameplay is something that they really need to work on.
4/10

Controls

There is a basic control schematic at place, that is really easy to learn. But the handling of the vehicle is incredibly stiff. This might come from the struggle between being an arcade game and a simulator game. Adjusting the settings, I even checked the possibilities to re-map the buttons, but these options aren’t available. And from what was available, didn’t really have an impact.
6/10

Replay Value

One thing is certain in Dakar 18, there ain’t much else to do besides taking on the long adventure through the desert. The lack of variation of modes might keep people away from the game once finishing the game once. I think some modes that support a short-term gameplay might help or even some arcade modes.
4/10

You can check out our review policy right here, if you wonder how we set our scores.

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Overall
4.75/10
4.75/10
  • Graphics - 5/10
    5/10
  • Gameplay - 4/10
    4/10
  • Controls - 6/10
    6/10
  • Replay Value - 4/10
    4/10
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Verdict

Dakar 18’s attempt for authenticity might be an error for the total experience, but fans of the series might enjoy this title. It’s a huge game, and the fundamentals of a rally raid are there, but the lack of variation might make the game uninteresting in the long run.

Pros

  • Incredible challenging
  • Using the roadbook correctly is rewarding
    (Navigating)
  • Diverse vehicles to choose from

Cons

  • The struggle of “driving game identity”
  • Visually uninspiring
  • Lack of variation

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