Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is Finally Worth Buying

slrx64-2016-10-21-23-35-58-63All the way back in January of this year, I had the misfortune of wasting $100 CDN on Milestone’s Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo for the PC. While on paper the game looked to be a phenomenal alternative to the already brilliant DiRT Rally, I noted that the game suffered from an abundance of technical issues – as well as a bewildering lack of support for multiple USB inputs – that held it back from being a serious contender in the fight for the right to call itself the best rally simulator since 2004’s Richard Burns Rally. Now even though it was a Milestone product, and most people believed it should have been discarded after an hour of gameplay, at the time I forced myself to dive deep into career mode armed with little more than an Xbox 360 pad, and was delighted to discover that this had the potential to be a really fucking good game once all the bugs were ironed out. It’s got more cars than DiRT Rally, ridiculously difficult stages, and two separate single player campaign modes – both of which are unique in their own right.

It was destined to eat up a lot of my time if Milestone ever released a patch for the damned thing.

Michael Wieczorek of PC Master Race Reality Check begins the above video by stating that “Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is a pain in the ass on PC”, but over the course of four minutes discovers that there are indeed certain settings you can select via the external launcher which can iron out most of the performance problems before you even boot the application. Milestone finally got off their asses and released a patch to rectify many of the PC performance issues plauging a whole host of users, and I’m happy to report that my game stays locked at a buttery smooth 60 FPS aside from inclement weather stages, though I’ll chalk that up to my own hardware. In short, yes, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is no longer a stuttering pile of shit, and if you own the game on Steam yet haven’t touched it in months for this very reason, it’s now safe to do so.

safeAnother element which prevented many PC sim racers from fully diving into what Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo had to offer was the lack of multiple input support. Now I dislike treading over concepts I’ve already explained a thousand times over, but in case you haven’t noticed, a whole bunch of us hardcore guys love to mix and match wheels and pedals for their sim racing setups, meaning it’s more than one USB cable we’re plugging into our PC’s. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo doesn’t natively support that, and it still doesn’t – ToCA Edit released an easy-to-use plugin for SLRE as a work around that allows multiple input sim racers to bypass the limitations of the application. This release flew well under the radar during Easter Weekend 2016 due to Rally Evo’s horrible initial reception, but given the performance issues found in the retail version have been ironed out, it’s definitely time for us to let you know about this.

slre-fixI’ve dedicated my Friday afternoon to playing through the Loeb Experience portion of the game, and I’m extremely pleased to report that Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo lives up to the initial review I posted back in January. If you’ve played the ever-loving shit out of DiRT Rally, yet shelved the title because you’re tired of running the same eight stages over and over again, Rally Evo should certainly be your next stop. I don’t want to mislead anybody and claim it features a stunning physics engine or a comprehensive mechanical damage system, but as a complete package I have no problem saying it certainly gives DiRT Rally a run for its money, and finally provides a satisfactory experience without the presence of ominous technical issues.

Reader Submission #120 – Ride 2 Impressions

ride-gamesoul-1-1280x720Motorcycle games aren’t exactly our specialty here at PRC.net, due largely in part to Milestone’s monopoly on the genre, but if you guys send us any substantial info on them, we’ll sure as hell cover it. Today’s Reader Submission comes from Karim S., who has gladly taken the time to evaluate Milestone’s new release, Ride 2, though unfortunately he has requested a full refund for the title – albeit with certain complications. Let’s find out why…


29228129160_8c6eb5772e_bI just wanted to let you know about my Ride 2 experience so far. I have been playing Milestone games for many years, so I have an idea what to expect. I think the MXGP games are quite good, despite their technical limitations, and Mot GP 15 Compact has proven to be good fun for $2.74 CAD. For those who are unaware, you can buy a “lite” version of MotoGP with just Single Race, Season Mode, and Online for a heavily reduced price, which is a nice option if you can’t see yourself dropping full price on a game you might not like. Bike games aren’t for everybody.

I kept hearing really good things about Ride 2, so I took the plunge. I had to choose between the base game ($55) and the special edition ($58), which includes two ridiculous day-1 bike packs and a Nordschleife documentary video. Funny thing, putting the special edition in your Steam cart warns you that the presence of the video in the package prevents you from refunding that purchase, as it is contains consumable content. Nope’d right the fuck out of there and bought the base game and the documentary separately.

Thirteen hours of downloading later (26 gigs of shitty sounds and bland textures), I was ready to go. All settings to “max” (FX-8320, 8 GB RAM, RX 470 4 GB), the introductory race had me between 20 and 30 fps, with regular stuttering. After restarting the game several times in full screen and windowed mode, with various settings, I tried it again on “max” and it finally locked itself at 60 fps for some reason. I did some racing at Monza, Imola, Macau and some road track, and after a few minutes, the game gave me a memory warning and shut down. I’m thinking there could be a memory leak, something that users of the first Ride have reported.  As far as bugs, the first time I watched a replay, there was no sound and one camera view turned around and was looking through the body of the rider. A bit unpleasant.

But how does it play? Where MotoGP is raw, has a lot of movement and is generally dynamic and challenging, this is exactly the opposite. I tried some high-performance models, and there seems to be a blanket over the exhaust, no grunt, no meat. MotoGP sounds vicious, and with some sound presets in an audio enhancer, you can retain the mean edge while filling in the low end, with some 3D “ambiance” thrown in. No such luck with Ride 2; it’s flat and hopeless, like some jazz preset in Winamp.

The handling is also very smooth and predictable, and coupled with the counter top-flat circuits, it’s impossible to feel anything no matter the speed. No bumps, no camber, no detail. It’s like they didn’t even try. I wasn’t expecting the game to support the Xbox One trigger rumbling that works so well in Forza, but that would indeed have given some texture to the gameplay. Even if we had a proper bike controller with force feedback, this game wouldn’t use any of it. This is what kills the game for me, and why I’ve asked for a refund.

Surprise, I can’t refund to my credit card because of the video I mentioned earlier. Even though I didn’t buy the special edition, the $1 video on the same receipt seems to limit my refund options. It will be a Steam wallet refund, or hopefully Steam support replies to my query in the next two weeks. 

Good low-rent content, technically sound overall, but more lifeless than ever. What’s funny is that one of the replay cameras is a bit more “on top” of the bike, and there is also more movement, which seems pretty cool, but you can’t use it for gameplay. Add some wind noise, some bumps and better engine notes, and this would be a pretty good game.


29437662671_699374904e_bThank you for taking the time to write into us about an often overlooked sub-genre of racing games. Many people have wanted a pseudo-sequel to the excellent Tourist Trophy by Polyphony Digital, and it’s a shame this game has been hindered by the Milestone trademarks we’ve all come to know and loathe – in particular the dodgy framerate and questionable lack of polish. Like Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo which released earlier this year, Ride 2 on paper looks to be an intriguing game with a lot of content, but once again Milestone fail to make the game playable upon release. You should not need to restart an application several times in a row just to achieve a constant framerate.

I am also slightly confused why the sound quality and overall physics have been downgraded from the MotoGP series, especially with the Valentino Rossi game – which is basically another Milestone bike game that came out this year – exhibiting a much different style of play. Look, I’m aware that both titles were intended for different audiences; Valentino Rossi was essentially MotoGP 16, whereas Ride 2 is more of a Gran Turismo on Two Wheels that has been built for a casual player base, but why would this justify a totally different sound mix or riding feel?

For example, Forza Motorsport 6, and Forza Horizon 2 do indeed operate with different sets of tire behavior because they are aimed at opposing markets, but it’s not like the Horizon games were completely neutered in the way Ride 2 has been compared to MotoGP 16. Horizon 2 still kinda drives like Forza 6, and even going back a few years, the original Horizon drove like Forza 4 to some extent. What purpose does heavily simplifying Ride 2 serve? I support the decision to maybe simplify the tire model, but then going the extra mile and taking all of the bumps out of the racing surfaces, along with restructuring the force feedback effects… That seems a bit pointless to me. Especially after inserting tracks like the Nordschleife and Dundrod into the lineup and making them out to be this insane challenge that highlights Ride 2’s career mode, only for them to be completely underwhelming. Visually, they look great, as you can see in the video above, but to ride around at speed it’s lame Milestone would tone them down a notch.

Above all, I think it’s disappointing that Milestone continue to release products that are more or less not performing at an optimal level on the PC. Look, if I currently owned a PS4, I’d have no problem taking a chance on the games these guys develop because they clearly run much better on consoles. However, I own a PC, and on paper it should be a bit more powerful than the current console lineup. It’s not fair as a customer for console owners to receive a product that functions properly, whereas PC owners who purchase a Milestone product are shit out of luck from launch day.

Reader Submission #103 – When Listening to the Fans Improves Quality

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It has taken many years to get to this point, but according to recent critical reception of the official Valentino Rossi/MotoGP 16 title by Milestone, the Italian team notorious for half-assed quasi-simulators have accomplished the impossible and released an objectively satisfying product. Finally achieving the level of quality early Milestone releases such as Superbike 2001, Valentino Rossi: The Game appears to be something motorcycle fans can genuinely get excited about, and it’s all thanks to the community’s feedback. Today’s Reader Submission from previous PRC.net contributor and Australian SuperKart driver Tyler W. takes a look at what the sim racing scene can learn from this stunning twist of events.


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Hey PRC, I thought I’d drop you guys another reader submission since I didn’t have much else on the schedule today. I came across something I doubt any of us would have expected this year, something that will shock pretty much every sim racer who comes to this place on a regular basis: Milestone has made a game that a lot of people seem to like. I’m not kidding.

Currently, Valentino Rossi: The Game is the most well-received game the company has ever released, with Metacritic displaying it at an astonishing 81 out of 100. That’s just a few points lower than Project CARS or Assetto Corsa, and ranked higher than the previous three Codemasters Formula One installments. And if you don’t believe me, the once angry comment section on the MotoGP Video Game Facebook page, a place traditionally filled with bug fixing demands and such, has now become a beacon of praise for Milestone’s efforts. What the hell happened, and how did Milestone go from a mediocre offering with Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, to such a polished game involving not just bikes, but rally and drift cars as well?

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I haven’t personally played it yet, so I can’t accurately give you a thorough simulation value index rating, but I’d like to address something especially important here. If you look at Milestone’s Facebook page, since the game’s announcement Milestone have done something they haven’t done in the past – interact with their customers. Sure, they would say “sorry for your experience” and “we’re working on a fix” with previous iterations of their games, but this time they actually involved some portions of the community. An example was one user pointing out some incorrect textures on the Jerez circuit. Instead of ignoring it, Milestone were right on it and fixed it. They also released gameplay screenshots, bikes included, and responded to comments that concerned previous game bugs and release dates. It seemed like less of a calculated PR move, and more of a genuine attempt to actually listen to their fans.

Now, and I hate to go against what I’m saying, this could be mainly because they might care an extra amount due to the Rossi name being involved, and being passionate Italian MotoGP fans themselves, but think about it – not a lot of people are complaining about a Milestone product for once. So I’m left wondering why that is, and I can only think of one reasonable answer:

People can’t complain about bugs and missing features if there are minimal bugs and minimal missing features

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On the contrary, we have Codemasters. Yes, they’ve shown off F1 2016. Yes, it looks like a slight improvement. Yes, career mode is back and the game is now half of what F1 2015 should have been at launch. But communication? Still nothing. Only a few days ago did they release some promotional footage of Daniel Ricciardo and Joyilon Palmer lapping the Baku circuit. Before that, was precisely one Q&A session. Hell, early footage that was shown from their E3 booth was demonstrated by amateurs who have probably never played anything other than Burnout or Mario Kart in their lives. Seriously, they wonder why their fanbase are leaking beta footage, even with NDA’s in effect, and yet the answer is in plain sight: When customers get antsy and frustrated, if they get an opportunity to show some precious gameplay, they’re probably gonna do it.

I may just be rambling at this point, but think about it: DiRT Rally and Valentino Rossi: The Game have used community feedback to guide them in the right path, and it’s worked considering DiRT Rally was labelled by PRC.net as the best sim of 2015, and the Valentino Rossi title is critically speaking the best Milestone product ever. Meanwile, Codemasters, Slightly Mad Studios, and Kunos have repeatedly ignored or selectively filtered feedback for some time now, and it’s shown to not work with F1 2015 being a mess, Project CARS being a buggy and broken mess, and Assetto Corsa looking like it may have a troubled console launch. I for one hope this method now catches on with developers genuinely listening to what people want to buy, and how they can improve the game before release. If Milestone of all people can benefit from this approach, so can others.


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Your reasoning as to why both DiRT Rally and Valentino Rossi 16 succeeded is definitely headed in the right direction, but there’s a bit more I can add to it. Not only did Codemasters and Milestone actively seek the community’s feedback when developing both titles, they essentially put the community directly into the drivers seat and treated them as equals. Codemasters and Milestone developers weren’t showing up on the various social media outlets discussing their products solely to belittle, argue, and act in a condescending manner towards their customers – it was quite the opposite.

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In fact, I remember back during DiRT Rally’s development, some dude made like a ten minute video explaining how he felt the force feedback effects should evolve from the current version, and Codemasters called his ass up on Skype the next day and proceeded to have a two hour phone call with the guy, just to pick his brain. Meanwhile, if you ventured over to the Project CARS forums at around the same time, it was basically Ian Bell telling people off on a regular basis for pointing out issues with the game, and unfortunately the same environment is now present in several other official forums for other modern racing simulators as well.

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Because when you think about it, every sim racing development team actively asks for the community’s feedback. Everybody has their own official forum where your average customer can make a long-winded post about the game, and within a day or so somebody from the development team will show up to have a chat. The main problem arising is that a lot of developers, such as the iRacing team, Kunos, and Slightly Mad Studios, act like an egotistical rock band and throw hissy fits on par with those of Axl Rose during the height of Guns ‘N Roses. They all ask for feedback, but suddenly make excuses to dismiss 90% of what gets posted, only allowing reception from the leftist nu-male cucks to resonate with them. Codemasters, Milestone, and I guess I should throw Sector 3 into this list, aren’t content with letting the brown nosing apologists merely enforce the fantasy world some developers live in.

The quality of the end product speaks volumes, as you mentioned in the submission. DiRT Rally made a whole bunch of people in the community shit their pants, both literally and figuratively. Milestone, a company notorious for entirely forgettable titles, pushed out something that is objectively worth a purchase. And Sector 3 took a Free to Play title that was on almost nobody’s radar, and turned it into something that’s not quite GTR 3, but it’s approaching that point at a rapid pace. Meanwhile, Project CARS became the punchline of many sim racing forum jokes, Assetto Corsa’s console launch is something many are keeping their eyes on partially for the drama, and now that we’ve provided an outlet to express criticism away from fanboys, people aren’t all that thrilled about the physics in iRacing, either.

Unfortunately, you aren’t going to fix ego problems no matter how many bug videos you throw at Ian Bell, no matter how many real world drivers privately bash iRacing, and no matter how many experienced physics modders offer, so the only way to combat the Axl Rose effect is to show your gratitude towards how the other developers are treating their fans, and not put up with any online temper tantrum just because they have Staff under their username.

Reader Submission #91 – Satisfied with Mediocrity

We receive a lot of flak here at PRC.net for alleged fear-mongering about the current state of racing simulations, and those who are vocally opposed to the content on this site claim we’re approaching everything with an unwarranted pessimistic attitude. For the past several years, many virtual racing game developers have pushed out unfinished or broken titles on the unsuspecting general public, and it has been somewhat difficult to prove that there is a tangible decline in quality within the genre – fanboys often come out of hiding to claim we should feel sorry in some way for a multitude of different studios who don’t have the time, financial support, or raw manpower to create the title of our dreams.

However, a Reader Submission today from Dane R. has helped us shed some light on one of the more prominent issues currently plaguing sim racing – some developers are outright delusional about the quality of their products, and don’t believe anything is wrong at all. Milestone’s RIDE, released in 2015, shipped with a plethora of game-breaking bugs that quickly relegated the title to the bargain shelf at your local retailer, but Milestone instead genuinely believe the game has surpassed their expectations.

How?


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Hello PRC! Yesterday I read a very interesting article about Italian game studio Milestone, and their plans for a successor to RIDE –  a motorcycle game with huge load times on consoles, corrupted save game issues, the best of Assetto Corsa’s pre-2015 railway artificial intelligence, and extremely bad engine sounds. According to German racing game magazine SpeedManiacs, who interviewed Milestone not too long ago, Milestone have currently stuck their heads in the sand. The team from Italy believe players and press alike are satisfied with the title, and the game has exceeded their own personal expectations.

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On what planet are their titles considered a success? RIDE has a Metacritic rating of 66, and only around 70% of Steam reviews are positive. Even if the sales figures seem to be somewhat okay (around 25,000 sold on Steam alone), for me it’s absolutely incomprehensible as to how a game developer with over 100 employees can think like this. As a sim racer they only appear to care about pushing out four new licensed games a year, without caring about their reputation or the quality of their software.


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First of all, I guess it’s important to establish that the current climate of mainstream video game journalism – the websites which contribute to the average Metacritic score you see prominently displayed around the internet – basically won’t give any modern video game a score lower than 80%. This can be attributed to the developers themselves offering certain publications perks for giving their game an artificial score, or it can be attributed that the fear of judging a game in an honest manner, in turn risking the supply of early press copies to completely dry up. This exact scenario happened when I was over writing for RaceDepartment in 2013 – Codemasters threw a tantrum regarding my review of Grid 2, and basically pulled support from the site altogether, when they were previously big supporters of the community Mr. Hengeveld created.

With an ideal base critic score being established, and the team’s entries falling well below the average Metacritic target of 80%, for Milestone to claim they have been successful as a game developer is pretty disturbing. I’ve sat down and compiled a list of Metacritic scores featuring four of their most recent titles, and the mental gymnastics used to act like they’re somehow doing a good job is impressive to say the least:

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Critics aren’t satisfied, effectively turning the responses mentioned during the Speed Maniacs interview into a load of horseshit. MXGP, MotoGP 15, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, and the aforementioned RIDE have all just barely fallen into the acceptable category. Customers, as you can see from heading over to the Steam forums for any one of the aforementioned titles, aren’t happy either. The Steam discussion page for RIDE upon launch was a disaster, and I noted during our extensive review of Rally Evo that a very competent rally simulator was hiding under a plethora of bugs and design flaws that shouldn’t have been there.

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Milestone’s response to all of this criticism, has been to stick their fingers in their ears and instead invent their own reality. This is incomprehensible. We’re talking about years worth of games that were borderline unplayable due to numerous technical issues or gameplay elements that just didn’t resonate with anyone, years worth of reviews indicating all of their projects have barely been deemed acceptable by critics and fans alike, and the company answers to all of this by literally pretending everything is fine and inventing bizarre claims that are demonstrably false. At what point do these guys wake up? What version of RIDE or Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo are they playing at their headquarters? How does a studio with over one hundred employees craft such a drastic alternative to reality? And more importantly, if the team at Milestone have found a way where they can openly laugh in the face of their remaining customers, who have undoubtedly put up with a mountain of patches and post-release beta testing just to get something that’s halfway playable, how many other companies are taking this approach as well?

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Oh right, a lot of them.

The Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo Sales Numbers Will Shock You

Milestone may be comfortable pushing a flurry of DLC packages on the Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo userbase, but a more troubling problem is popping up behind the scenes. The disastrous PC launch of the highly anticipated rally sim has played an integral role in the game’s success among the hardcore sim racers the title was intended for. Shipping with frustrating framerate issues and an outright lack of support for hardware commonly used by virtual automotive enthusiasts around the world, Milestone have stayed relatively silent on the several technical issues plaguing what had all the potential in the world to be a fantastic rally sim.

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The complaints echoed by many owners of Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo are not minuscule grievances only affecting a portion of owners with unrealistic standards for a racing sim in 2016. The massive launch problems suffered by Rally Evo have fundamentally changed the overall success of the title, and put Milestone in a fairly substantial predicament. According to online analytic database SteamSpy, roughly 3,000 people currently own Rally Evo. For a game to be delayed a year due to quality concerns, and have the benefit of the world’s greatest race car driver lend his namesake to the title, these numbers aren’t just embarrassing – they’re a sign that the company might not be around much longer. No company can release a game that’s this big of a commercial failure, and expect to survive relatively intact.

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The active user base graph over at SteamCharts also does a fantastic job of displaying how big of a failure Rally Evo was in terms of the people who were actually playing it. In short, Rally Evo is one of the least popular racing games available on Steam – even compared to titles with astronomically small active communities. Rally Evo is eclipsed by both Race 07 and MX vs. ATV Reflex, while just barely pulling ahead of Codemasters’ DiRT Showdown. All three of these titles have seen much better days, whereas the Milestone offering is barely a month old. This is just sad.

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But nothing is more telling of Rally Evo’s shoddy quality on the PC than the graph of current owners available on SteamSpy. Climbing to 5,000 owners in the middle of February 2016, almost half of all individuals who bought Rally Evo promptly requested a refund for the title – and the data indicates they sure as hell received one. As someone who’s spent more than an adequate amount of time with the title, I can safely say these atrocious numbers are 100% attributed to the lengthy list of technical issues.

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I can’t imagine the man himself, Sebastien Loeb, is satisfied with lending his name to a project of this quality, and I’m sure the upcoming Valentino Rossi game will be affected by these numbers in some fashion.