Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo: Technical Preview
Rally games have long since been a huge part of many platforms garage throughout the years and generations from WRC, the all mighty Colin Mcrae but one of the most loved Sega Rally that was delivered Arcade perfect on the Sega Saturn, balancing the formula of a skilful but fun racer.
But now games need far more content, course, cars and graphics that should excel in all areas to seal the deal. And we have a new challenger launching next month in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo across PC, PS4 and XboxOne that is looking to challenge for the title. With the latest WRC already available across platform just what makes this stand out from the crowd? Well thanks to a demo up on PSN and XBL to help entice us into buying we can get an early look and see just what it does well.
Pixel counting is simple here with the game delivering a full 1920 x 1080 display across all formats (PC depends on spec) and that can also run at a 60fps with both consoles versions coming in with a capped 30fps rate. Not the most ideal refresh rate for a racer but so long as a solid and consistent performance is achieved 30 is still more than good enough…but sadly that does not appear to be the case here with this early teaser. Before I get hounded for it being only a “demo” or such, remember this is being used to entice sales and thus should be a good reflection of the game and how it will perform, with the obvious day 1 patch possibly improving some of the areas for concern and I have a couple.In terms of the content the full game will ship with 50 cars from rally’s history to modern day monsters and these can all be muddied up and smashed up within the games damage system and physics engine over 8 separate rally events all intricately mapped using GPS date and video captured from the man himself. The games creators Milestone should be well known to 2-wheeled nuts like myself with their most recognised work being the long list of Official MotoGP titles and last year’s decent Ride.
But 2 more wheels have been added for its next creation with a more uneven path taken in both creation and circuits. It has aimed more at a simulation than an arcade racer along the lines of Sega Rally and it is here that I feel the first issue arises. The Co-pilot instructions are good and they work well enough if you are aware of the grammar in use with the 3 cars in the demo handling varying enough to make a change. But it is in the collision system, terrain, damage system and gears that can feel off at times. The tight layout of the rally sections is much easier for me to play (Like all racing games to be honest) from a 1st person view I can see, react and sense speed much better that way. And this helps alleviate some of my handling issues, but far too many times you can get stuck in the smallest of ruts, flinging up mud like a dog burying a bone. Also the physics in crashes feels far too light and almost balloon filled, as you car can flip and roll at sometimes the slightest provocation. Runs of are short and barriers so thin as to mingle in with the poor quality trees, bushes and crowds that crashing into them can stop you dead in your tracks and race.
The low quality assets continue with the textures as aside the decent but not ground breaking cars the scenery is quite flat and bland looking. Time of day helps with dusk the prettiest adding an orange tinge to sky and car reflections, improved with some bloom through the tree’s but it never really impresses and looks clean but serviceable. The engine is used more in the open dirt area and is the most fun course of the 2 (although my love of track racing does sway my judgement more here as I am more used to it) and the handling although still not great works much better here with the use of handbrake and power enabling much better control within the wider track design. It also pushes a longer view with better looking scenery even if the sweet spot Texture filtering of around 4x looks to be in use on both console versions which can be noticed in action.
But all this is not helped by the games relatively low aims and performance with it not aiming for a 60fps target which it really should be hitting a solid 30 would be an acceptable trade, but it is not what we get on both machines, but the XboxOne is slightly more affected.
In racing the game can feel like it has pacing issues at points but this seems to stem from the games velocity update not being consistent and thus not fully linear in play. But it can drop a frame or 2 in play on both machines but even though the XboxOne also has an adaptive V-sync in action (in this Work in progress tested version anyway) this does not tear that often to be noticed. As such this helps it keep close to the 30 rate but can also introduce some judder as the tear can be anywhere within the vertical axis. The PS4 runs a fully V-synced display at all times but can still drop frames, although far from constant or bad on both a racing game needs solid and consistent performance throughout and the dips we see here do hamper that control. Night sections can be worse with the dynamic lighting system including shadows but it is in the replays where performance takes a huge dive, and although not effecting the racing it does show that the game could do with some more attention on its performance. With these using more post effects including an extreme almost PS2 era motion blur as it jumps between camera shots the PS4 can drop to lows of 16 briefly and the XboxOne even lower to 14. But it is in the very often 20fps moments throughout replays that are the worse and just remove the shine from a decent looking car model in full flow.
Although it is not a huge or constant issue the signs are clear that the final release will need and may deliver improvements over what we are seeing here. A broader selection of tracks will help as its content looks to be of a very high level but more needs to be done to the core areas based on what this small teaser section has shown. With this being the appetiser Milestone have put on the table to entice you to dine, many may feel that its presentation needs more work before taking a seat.
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