With the Milestone logo on the package, you knew an article like this was coming at some point in time here on PRC.net. As the Special Edition of Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo took $100 out of my pocket, and the full install of the game taking up a whopping 26GB of Hard Drive space, there wasn’t much room for error. And as if the users across multiple sim racing message boards have had a crystal ball implanted into their Logitech G27’s, the game is indeed every bit as disappointing as the pessimistic virtual auto racers predicted. However, this disappointment is solely the fault of numerous technological issues and shortcomings which plague the PC version of Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo.
My honest opinion is that Rally Evo could obliterate DiRT Rally and Richard Burns Rally. No, this is not a joke. As a game, you’re looking at the most complete rally sim of all time, and I am completely overwhelmed at the list of content available in the game. There are not one but two Career modes, the level of depth in the single player campaign is excellent, and the stage design continues in the direction DiRT Rally had previously explored – long, tight, and frustrating. On paper, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo took what made DiRT Rally awesome – and keeps pushing forward.
But then it all comes crashing down. The list of technological bugs, oversights, and grievances make it difficult to enjoy Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. Actually, it’s more than just difficult to enjoy. You truly begin to wonder how a developer that set out to build an uncompromising rally sim with the name of the greatest off-road driver of all time on the box completely failed to understand the audience that would be playing the game on PC.
- The framerate is awful. I’ve got a middle-of-the-road PC that can run DiRT Rally with all settings cranked up aside from one or two because they’re unnecessary. Rally Evo stays in the 30 – 40 FPS range as if I’m back playing Grand Theft Auto IV on the Xbox 360. The lack of graphical options makes this issue difficult to solve on your own, and even worse, different stages affect the framerate in different ways. The abundance of trees in Finland takes things into the single digits, while the game skips and stutters in Mexico if too many dust particles are on screen. Sometimes, Rally Evo will glitch and throw puddle splashes or your dust trail in front of your car, and you’ll be staring at the cloud of dust that should have been behind you while the framerate chugs. Night time and wet weather driving also suffer from crippling performance issues.
- There is no support for multiple controllers. Part of getting into sim racing is mixing and matching the various wheel and pedal combinations on the market to achieve a custom setup that you’re comfortable with. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo only detects one controller at a time, meaning sim racers such as myself who use a Bodnar cable to create custom combinations like the Driving Force GT with G27 pedals simply cannot play the game in the way it was intended to be played. Basically, Milestone built a racing simulator while being completely unaware how a large portion of their target audience plays racing simulators.
- Driving with a gamepad is abysmal. If you’re desperate to play the game in some form despite not owning one of the few supported toy steering wheel, you’ll be forced to bust out the trusty Xbox 360 Controller. This is absolutely infuriating, as Rally Evo was clearly designed with steering wheels in mind. Yes, you can turn down the difficulty and enable any number of driving assists, but trying to progress through the game in a meaningful way to get a head start for when multiple controller support is finally added – it’s not going to happen. If you drive at anything other than 70% attack, the thumbstick simply lacks the accuracy to keep the car pointed straight. You’ll end up failing to recover from slides you know you can save, and the overall lack of agility makes the technical stages utterly pointless to attempt with a pad. I can’t imagine how disappointed people on consoles are going to be. It just doesn’t work. Even in the lowly Peugeot 106 that you start the game with, I found myself retrying stages five or six times out of sheer determination.
- AutoSave isn’t working for a number of users. Already there are reports on the Steam forums of Rally Evo being unable to save progress within the game, a fairly important aspect as the cars you purchase in Career mode carry over across all aspects of the game – including single race. It’s a design decision I personally like, but obviously it has to be functional. Right now, it’s not.
- There’s no triple monitor support. It’s 2016, and running a three monitor setup is pretty common in serious sim racing circles. The lack of any functionality for a triple screen configuration is baffling; again, Milestone have no idea how their target audience are choosing to play racing simulators.
- Steam ID’s are not supported for online gameplay. To race online, you’re forced to go through Milestone’s website and create yet another pointless online account just for one game.
In conclusion, the framerate is garbage even with an adequate PC, most serious sim racers can’t even play the game with a wheel as multiple controller inputs aren’t supported, the game isn’t meant to be played with a gamepad, merely saving your progress isn’t working for a portion of users, triple monitor support isn’t included, a woefully limited number of graphics options are included, and online racing isn’t even handled through Steam. Underneath this crippling list of bugs, however, is what appears to be one of the best rally games of all time. It’s just a shame that – yet again – owners of a modern racing sim are now stuck sitting around on message boards waiting for the game they already purchased to be fixed.