This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 59 July 2018.
Are you the kind of person that feels that keeping your tyres on the tarred road is a limiting experience? Is washing the mud from your car’s grill an exhilarating way to spend an afternoon? Then Gravel isn’t really the game for you. And at the same time, it is.
Gravel is not a racing game focused on traditional tarred racing tracks but rather the kind that takes things off-road in a slightly bumpy fashion. First impressions are pretty good. The game looks decent and the slightly arcade-y racing and sliding around corners proves pretty thrilling at first. But then the repetition sets in and the little problems surface.
Gravel throws you into a story mode of sorts based around TV show Gravel Channel. Basically though it’s an excuse to add chapters that focus on earning stars to open additional races which ultimately bring you up against some real-life racing champions.
There are plenty of ideas that appear to have been lifted from other games – specifically Forza Horizon 3. If I was to be blunt, Gravel is all the off-road elements of Forza Horizon 3 but without the open-world mechanic. Or its finesse.
Earning new cars and liveries is a shallow experience that sees pre-determined unlocks earned by levelling up. As with Forza Horizon you are rewarded in a race for drift length, jumps and maintaining high speeds, which aids in the quest to level up. If some of the later vehicles weren’t so exhilarating to race, there is a danger with the game that you would simply stick to a small selection of preferred vehicles and not play for the unlocks.
The presenter of the Gravel Channel quickly starts to repeat his lines and the menu presentation is a little last generation but the in-game graphics are decent. Gravel also features a few entertaining game modes and some of the race tracks are entertaining figure-8 shapes in a stadium. Add mud, rain and the AI’s lack of noticing you at the intersections and you have a manic few laps on your hands.
Unfortunately, the game is also short if you decide only the story is for you. You can do online multiplayer, free racing and a few other modes but there’s no real drive to do so once the campaign is done.
Gravel is a game that has good intentions but it just doesn’t get it all right enough to make it a must-have title.
Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Distributed by: Ster Kinekor Entertainment