Title: Dakar 18
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC
Players: Single Player & Multiplayer
Developer: Big Moon Entertainment
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: Out Now!
Dakar 18 is based on the City and location in Senegal including its annual rally. Racing games are few and far between. You think there all alike, get in a car and become the best at it, always being the fastest. While you may be right in some car games, this is no arcade racing game however. Dakar 18 is all about making the right choice at the right time. Now, as you know the game itself is based on the actually rally that originated in Dakar, Senegal. It’s not easy to build a game surround real life places, real life objects and so on. I mean a lot of research and money spent is needed to nail that and playing the game for a few hours does show how much attention of detail has been put into Dakar 18. It doesn’t looked like they skimped on their surroundings or quality of graphics to get it as real as possible. I won’t lie, games as such won’t compete with the bigger hitters, mainly because they kept it to as much as real life as possible, it’s mainly for rally and racing fans and that’s pretty much it. But that’s the hit that studios take to keep it to the original as possible.
Dakar is based on Rally-raid. I won’t lie, I hadn’t a clue what this is. I’m a racing fan, not a so much a rally fan but when you have to research a game, you do come across information you never knew. From what I understand, Rally-raid is based mainly in area’s of large mounds or rough terrain such as a desert. Drivers have to travel extremely far distances up and down these mounds and sand dunes to get to destinations. It’s not as simple as a one man race, you have to navigate also finding the next location you have to be at. There is no sat-nav, you have to carry a map and some other traditional tools to find the next area. Using your brain by using car pieces of equipment to help also. It’s pretty dangerous. No easy task at all. This is all tucked in Dakar 18. I did warn you this is not your typical driving game!
I’m not a starter to racing games, so jumping into Dakar 18, I thought this would be another typical rally game, get me racing sim set up. No, absolutely not. I sat on a sofa with controller in hand trying to understand the details of what I should be doing, getting an understanding of the game, it will take some time. But once you’re in and going, getting the basic understanding, it can be fun, however, may be a little bit tedious.
During your racing you get the choice of multiple vehicles, not just a huge wheeled rally desert car. You can drive a bike, a buggy if you’d like to feel you’re back on holiday, a quad while you’re at it, a dirt bike and an actual truck. Which, by the way, is an absolute beast. You can only choose one at the start of the game so choose wisely. It’s not a short game as you can imagine. The actually rally could be thousands of miles so Dakar 18 had to keep it as close as possible, this is where the tediousness can come into the fold. You’re stuck with one vehicle over a long period of time navigating a baron desert in a truck. You can start up another new game however and have a couple on the go just to change it up a bit but it’s not really the same.
Each vehicle, as you can imagine, brings in different handling styles, dirt bike can be a bit slide-y but fast at the same time, a truck is slow but easy to handle and you have the in between-ers with some sort of balance such as your rally car or quad. You can tell they tried to capture the realism as close as possible but some of them just feel a bit of a joke, not taking the gaming seriously which can be a bit disappointing. You want it to be as close as possible but if you quad is doing a 360 turn for going up a bound, it’s not right. Also selecting the vehicle depends on what recourses your get. You can imagine a truck will have a lot of things going for it, a navigator as such helping out but it is slow and vice versa for other things, such as bike or quad, so pick wisely.
There is a couple of difficulty settings on the game, I was absolutely a beginner but I wanted it close to the real thing as possible which may of been a bad choice. It took some time to understand as the next location is not marked or anything. Upon figuring it out it was fine, but I did try a different setting when choosing a different vehicle and making it easy can help a little bit by pointing in the right direction but not a huge help again if you’re a beginner to the rally-raid understanding.
While out there in the huge open world, you have to stop from time to time to get an understand from direction and which way you should be going. This feels weird in a racing game as your time is ticking down and you feeling like you’re losing time however this can be used in your advantage to the right direction where as other racers may be heading in the wrong direction, however, not everyone is so you have to be strategic and not let the seconds tick away to much. It does cause a weird feeling trying to stop in a race, it makes you feel rushed which can easily cause mistakes. Quite an adrenaline filled experience.
In terms of gameplay that is all really there is to it. Keeping it as close to the real thing that’s out there. While there is different vehicles and different difficulty settings, there isn’t a whole more to it. Focusing on the department the build of game itself, there is a fair few bugs happening and while the graphics do look good and keeping it faithful it’s definitely not on par with the like of Forza or Gran Turismo. However, not to pull away from the fact this game is built for the fans of Dakar, it doesn’t remove the fact that they have kept it as real to the actually rally as possible. The biggest let down for me is the controlling of the vehicles, it just doesn’t seem real to me. With a game based on a real life sport and location, they’ve nailed the location just not the vehicle sport which is a let down. And the fact there is little modes to the game really pulls away from the replayability of the game, giving nothing to the players in return, kind of pulls away from the win really.