In the late 1990’s we had arguably 2 of the best rally drivers in the world in Richard Burns and Colin McRae, both have sadly passed away since. Since their deaths in the mid 2000’s, the sport of rallying has had no real impact here in the UK. You could say that this is linked to the sales of these type of games, since the last Colin McRae Rally game in 2004, it was over 5 years till a game solely based on rallying hit the consoles. Yes, we have had the Dirt series of games, which included rallying, but rallying wasn’t the main point of the games. They also included Rally Cross, crossover head-to-head racing, basically the X-Games audience to appeal to a newer generation.
Since 2010 we have had official World Rally Championship games, also by Sebastien Loeb developer Milestone, but they have been poor, at best scoring 70% at best across the board. Rallying as a whole is a niche sport, so for Milestone to still be making these type of games is a brave move. Sébastien Loeb is the current Colin McRae. He is the most popular and most commonly known driver of them all in the past 10 or so years, so having his name associated with the product is an ideal choice. Even though he has moved onto touring car racing, his name will forever identified with rallying.
You start the game by customising your complete experience, in the usual racing game way, driver name, co-drivers name, livery, team name. These can be changed at any time after this, so don’t feel there’s too much pressure to get it right first time round. The tutorial is a must starting point for any racing game, this is where you will get your initial feel of how the car feels and which viewpoint best suits you, and here is one of the games main downfalls. The cars handling is, well, unique. Some will say rather twitchy. You will get used to it, especially when you go into the quarry test area as this is a great place to get used to any new car you get.
The cars viewpoints from that you race vary from inside and outside the car, as expected, drivers view, bonnet view, radiator view etc. However there are only 2 outside options, far away and really far away. There is no close car view from outside the car, which is especially needed when doing Rally-X and my personal viewpoint of choice, in these type of games.
Career mode follows the same path as Milestones previous game Ride, you earn reputation by finishing events, to move up the leaderboard and try and become numero uno. Having a variety of events makes the career mode a lot more enjoyable, you’re not just racing against the clock in a Welsh desolate forest, you also have single stage sections, a full 8 stage rally, Rally-X and even some skill based sections against the clock, or through checkpoints.
The Sebastien Loeb Experience lets you try and replicate his 27 highest accomplishments throughout is WRC career. Again, like the career mode, there are a variety of events which keep it feeling fresh and are a real challenge. As you complete each challenge you get access to some of his most famous cars to drive, including the Pikes Peak car with the rear wing borrowed from a Le Mans car. Quick mode is exactly what it says on the tin, you can do a quick single event in all the game modes, single stage rally, Rally-X, Time Trial and also includes arguably one of the greatest pieces of road in the world, Pikes Peak. Time trial leaderboards, are basically broken. When in TT mode, when you complete a stage, you then get to see where you are in terms of the leaderboard, no issue there, however, during TT mode you can use the rewind feature and receive no penalty, definitely something that needs to be looked at.
Online play feels like an add-on to be honest. It is very basic and only has 2 options, single stage rally or Rally-X. This is for both public and private lobbies. This is a massive disappointment, no daily / weekly challenges, no part / full rally option. When you are racing against people in a single stage, you are racing against their ghosts. Their ghosts are ridiculously huge and take up all of the road and if you are running close to the car ahead you can’t see a damn thing, including the upcoming corners.
In conclusion, Sebastien Loeb Rally is blandly presented with loading times slower than the entry level cars. The test track is a great feature and will help you, but only real race fans will enjoy this. A patch is definitely needed as the cars are so sensitive using a pad, it can be a massive put off to new players. However, the biggest problem with Sebastien Loeb Rally appears in a couple of months on consoles, Dirt Rally.
+ Career mode is long
+ Fantastic array of cars and tracks to drive
+ At least 35+ hours’ worth of content
– Loading times are shocking
– Graphically it looks and feels like a launch title