Review – V-Rally 4

It’s such a great feeling when a long dormant, but beloved franchise finally receives a brand new sequel or reboot for the current generation of gaming. It’s also a terrible feeling when either a beloved franchise comes back in a less-than-ideal way (looking at you, whatever the heck that new Command & Conquer is) or when a franchise nobody ever loved makes a comeback for no reason, like Bubsy. There’s also another case when a long-forgotten franchise you paid little attention to your entire life makes a sudden comeback. You feel neither joy nor annoyance about it. You just shrug and move along. That’s the case with V-Rally 4.

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Gotta love buggy racing.

The previous V-Rally game was released way back in 2002. I had only played the first game in the series prior to tackling the fourth installment and weirdly enough, it was considered a Need for Speed spin-off back then. Was I excited to play this game? Not exactly, but to fair, I love racing games so I wanted this title to succeed. While it does feature some really good elements, the best way I can describe it: just another redundant title out there.

Things started off in a promising way for the first dozen seconds. I was presented to a truly gorgeous and breathtaking recreation of Monument Valley with excellent attention to detail and lighting. I was told to simply drive around and enjoy myself, and once I started doing that, I noticed some serious problems with the controls.

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Aaaaaaand of course I lost control of the car…

Handling the modified Volkswagen I was given turned out to be a bigger challenge than it should have ever been. The slightest flick on the analog stick meant that my car started to spin around and eventually crash onto a nearby rock. I tried drifting with the handbrakes, which also made me crash into another nearby rock. I also got a bronze trophy for drifting for over 30 meters, even though I had zero control over my car. In an attempt to avoid crashing into everything, I tried driving slowly. And while I managed to avoid falling off a cliff (except for one other time when I tried to accelerate a bit more), I just couldn’t feel the sensation of speed a rally game should offer me.

After enduring this first time trial, I was then forced to race on a rally cross event, and it was actually very fun. The car I was given had slightly better handling and the track design was also pretty good. I still spun around like a drunk driver navigating a frozen lake in Alaska, but it was a lot more bearable this time around. All that optimism went away once my career truly began. I bought one of half a dozen cars I could afford, all of which were crap, and started suffering once again with really rough controls. V-Rally‘s gameplay is quite confusing. The handling is not exactly realistic, but it’s also too complicated for an arcade game. The controls neither qualify as arcade nor simulation style. I don’t even know in which category V-Rally 4 would fit into, and neither do the developers.

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This might have been the only race I didn’t crash twice. I did crash once, of course.

It’s really sad, because there’s a ton to praise it earns from sheer content. The tracks are gorgeous and really varied, ranging from a Gymkhana-styled container labyrinth set in Cape Town’s harbor, to the astonishingly beautiful Transfăgărășan road in Romania. There are also buggy races in the Amazon jungle and a really wacky track in the middle of the Sahara. None of the tracks are licensed, therefore the developers were allowed to go bonkers with the designs. The amount of licensed cars is also great. Every single famous rally racer is here, from a Lancia Stratos to the lovely Mitsubishi Evos. Since the career mode had such a steep difficulty curve right from the get-go, I spent most of my time testing lots of cars in lots of different tracks in the Quick Race mode.

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The Transfăgărășan is widely considered the most beautiful road in the world.

V-Rally 4 isn’t exactly a bad game. It boasts really good graphics and a decent sound design, as well as a decent amount of content. The problem is that it isn’t exactly the most enjoyable game out there due to its gameplay. It’s too frustrating for newcomers and far from the standards of what simulation fans would expect. It’s neither a sim nor an arcade game, a competent anomaly that currently sits in a limbo of sorts. However, if you’re looking for a racing game where you can drive around containers in a Cape Town harbor, V-Rally 4 is the best title you’ll find.


Graphics: 8.0

V-Rally 4 has some really gorgeous vistas and lighting effects, even if it’s just running at 30 frames per second.

Gameplay: 5.0

The main issue in this game. Handling a car is a lot harder than it should be, even for rally racing standards. It can be frustrating at times.

Sound: 7.5

Some cool tunes when you are cruising through menus and just engine noises when you’re driving. It’s just what’s needed in a game like this.

Fun Factor: 6.0

There is a significant amount of content and some well-designed courses, but V-Rally 4 doesn’t know what it wants to be at the end of the day. It’s just passable as either a simulator or an arcade racer.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Reviewed on PS4.
V-Rally 4 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC.
A copy of V-Rally 4 was provided by the publisher.