Fixing Problems That Shouldn’t Have Been There

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After a disastrous launch which saw a vast majority of PC sim racers completely unable to dive into what Milestone’s Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo had to offer, the team over in Italy have proceeded to push forward and announce the first of many post release patches – albeit for the Playstation 4 version of the title. Intended to fix the intrusive input lag, lack of support for multiple USB devices, and allegedly improving the shader model to increase the overall framerate, Milestone intends patch #2 for Rally Evo to rectify glaring issues in a rally sim that on-paper had the potential to be absolutely glorious.

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Those already satisfied with the gameplay experience in Rally Evo will obviously be pleased to learn that the handling model will be refined to an extent on-par with PC sims, but in my opinion the extremely small list of patch notes raises more questions than it does answers. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo was delayed for nearly a year due to quality concerns,  and through these patch notes, Milestone have essentially admitted the game shipped with crippling performance issues, controller functionality problems, and a handling model suffering from tangible input lag. Through numerous trailers, press events, and other miscellaneous previews, Milestone had been willingly pushing a broken game on the already small audience of sim racing enthusiasts, who spent 2015 dealing with half-finished tripe such as Project CARS and Assetto Corsa. On the Steam Community forums – basically the only place to discuss Rally Evo online – even the diehard fanboys who once defended Milestone were quickly forced to change their tune due to how awful the release of Rally Evo ended up being.

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The Steam Forums are filled to the brim with glitch reports encompassing all aspects of Rally Evo, backing up our review of the title where we mentioned the constant array of technical issues overshadowed what appeared to be a surprisingly good rally simulator underneath. From the game failing to save progress, to brand-new toy steering wheels simply not being recognized by the executable, a whole bunch of people bought Rally Evo and basically couldn’t play the game. Others have written off Milestone’s future involvement in the game’s post-release lifespan altogether.

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It’s beyond frustrating to see a team like Milestone – who somehow acquired the rights to Sebastien Loeb’s likeness – promote and then eventually release a game where key elements didn’t work as advertised. The problems in Rally Evo didn’t boil down to Loeb’s Citroen Xsara being the wrong shade of red, and sim racers aren’t slamming this game because they feel it’s a threat to the legacy of SCi’s Richard Burns Rally; Milestone sold a game that demonstrably needed more time in development than the extra year provided, and then admitted through patch notes that it was still broken once it hit the shelves.

If you’re fixing input lag, adding support for multiple USB inputs, and chasing framerate problems after some of us have shelled out $100 on what we expected to be a functional product, you really fucked up. These are problems that shouldn’t have been there once consumers got their hands on the title, and Milestone had all the time in the world to rectify these nagging issues. Yet somehow, an entire game development studio didn’t seem to think input lag in a racing game would be a problem until message boards ignited with complaints, nor did they think the shoddy framerate would affect gameplay until literally everyone who bought the game voiced their widespread dismay. It’s absolutely shocking that any sort of large company would be this detached from reality, and owners of Rally Evo have every right to be upset over the product they’ve received.

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The Only Review of Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo you Need to Read

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The great Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. By this definition, one could label the process of playing Milestone’s newest release, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, as an experience that could drive you to the brink of insanity. In a quest to explore all the game had to offer for my own personal enjoyment, and gather multiple screenshots for the game’s photo mode to be used throughout my inevitable review for PRC.net, I constantly found myself loading up an event in Career mode thinking “this time, it will be different.”

This time, the controls won’t be as muddy and I’ll be able to keep my Suzuki Escudo pointed straight. This time, the framerate will hover in the high 50’s, instead of bouncing around all over the place like an Early Access title. This time, I won’t blow out the AI competition by a gap of two minutes in a single rally. This time, maybe if I beg and plead with my PC, it’ll let me use my wheel and pedals instead of forcing me to use an Xbox 360 controller I originally bought alongside DiRT 3 back in May of 2011. This time, my co-driver will call out when there’s rocks on the inside of a corner, or when there’s a farmer’s gate during a high speed section of a stage in Wales.

And it never gets better. The sad reality is that after being delayed almost a year due to concerns regarding the overall quality of the title, Rally Evo is an extremely disappointing effort by Milestone. And there’s a reason I use the word “disappointing” instead of something like “bad”, “awful”, or “garbage.” The truth is that Milestone built an absolutely phenomenal rally simulator, one which blows away both Richard Burns Rally, as well as the more recent DiRT Rally in terms of both driving physics and content, but the entire experience is plagued by absurd technical problems that make the game tread dangerously close to unplayable territory.

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On a personal note, I really wanted to enjoy Rally Evo, and bought into the small dose of marketing hype surrounding it. To be completely honest, I got tired of DiRT Rally. Despite sinking 62 hours into a game I labelled as the best racing sim of 2015, the woefully small selection of stages, and pace at which new content was added into the game meant I’d seen everything DiRT Rally had to offer by the time the game graduated from Steam’s Early Access program. When you have entire months to memorize a whopping two new stages and mere handful of new cars to try out – some which didn’t catch my attention in the slightest –  I eventually got to the point where playing DiRT Rally felt like watching a horror movie for the fifth or sixth time. All of the surprises meant to rustle your jimmies completely lost their effect, and running the notoriously difficult Monte Carlo stages in treacherous conditions felt no different than clicking off practice laps at the Nurburgring. It got boring.

But I wasn’t done with rally games as a whole, and Rally Evo was basically offering more of what sucked me into DiRT Rally. More cars, more stages, more modes, and an in-game livery editor, but with the same challenging physics. Hey, this sounds pretty good.

The problem is, Milestone has a tendency to royally fuck things up. To put things into a more politically-correct description, the small Italian developer team are known for an endless stream of racing games that fail to improve on the previous iterations in any meaningful way. This is a company that is completely satisfied with continuing to release games scoring no higher than 50’s or 60’s on mainstream review sites, only to push out a near-identical release the following year. The company has put out four WRC games, four MotoGP games, and four World Superbike games among a plethora of other auto racing titles, yet framerate troubles and lack of support for things sim racers need, such as multiple inputs, are conspicuously absent on all PC releases. Milestone as a company fail to address these issues or even talk to their fanbase at all, pushing out one or two patches at most before going silent for months at a time, surfacing the following year to announce any number of sequels.

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But the philosophy behind the development of Rally Evo was supposed to be different. Delayed an extra year specifically to polish the game up and iron out bugssomething not possible while under the WRC license – there was little room for error once the product finally hit store shelves. And even before the car is on the starting gate set to attempt your first stage, there are crippling problems.

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The majority of the game is configured not while Rally Evo is actually running, but through a launcher that pops up when you click the executable file. The list of graphical options is pathetic, and implies this was a quick and dirty port from next-generation consoles; standard options like Special Effects and Shadows are nowhere to be seen, meaning you can’t do a whole lot in the configuration launcher to combat the numerous performance issues that arise during gameplay.

By comparison, here’s only a portion of what DiRT Rally offers:

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Hell, the version number displayed in the launcher doesn’t even reflect the version of the game installed – there’s already been a day one update to push things to Version 1.1.  But we’re just getting started.

There’s no support for triple monitor setups. None. This doesn’t affect me personally, as I’m a single monitor proletariat, but an overwhelming number of PC sim racers have made the expensive jump to three screens over the past handful of years. Pretty much every modern video game includes support for a triple monitor setup, with the most prominent adapters of this configuration being the virtual airplane and automotive enthusiasts due to the sheer practicality. Despite being billed as a hardcore simulator, Rally Evo doesn’t support most common simulator setups.

And this extends to the controller support as well. With so many toy steering wheels, pedals, shifters, and handbrake modifications available for the hardcore virtual race car nerds, very few sim racers who have invested any serious time into this hobby use a bone stock steering wheel. Everywhere you look on sim racing message boards, people are mixing & matching wheels and pedals with a Leo Bodnar cable, buying H-shifter add-ons, or even purchasing USB emergency brakes specifically for rally racing sims. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo doesn’t support any of this stuff; in fact, the game only detects one input device. Unless you’re playing with a setup that connects to your PC through a single USB cable, you can’t play the game. Period.

This is absolutely absurd. Milestone built a hardcore rally simulator for a very specific audience, but then made no attempts to try and cater to the very specific needs of that audience – even though those needs are integral to the game being deemed “functional.”  Sure, you can pretend you’re seventeen again and plug in an Xbox 360 controller, but let’s be real here: keeping a car pointed forward at 200 km/h on a gravel road is asking too much from an Xbox pad. It’s as if Milestone believe that sim racers are just a group of kids who can play Gran Turismo with all the assists off, rather than an actual hobby with its own dedicated community and hardware.

So what’s going to happen, is that the sim racers who buy this game will be immediately requesting a refund because none of their hardware is supported, and the people who pick this up on next-generation consoles will quickly grow frustrated over being unable to control a modern rally car with a standard gamepad. At the end of the day, I can’t imagine a single group that will be satisfied with this game if Milestone choose to address only the performance issues and ignore support for multiple inputs and/or monitors.

And as if lacking necessary graphics options, the inability to use all three of your monitors, and no support for multiple inputs wasn’t enough, there’s already a Season Pass retailing for $20 on top of the base game. The “Special Edition” retails for $100 Canadian. It’s like Milestone has cut their employees off from the outside world, not allowing them to see how hated this bullshit is around the industry. I haven’t even started talking about the save data corruption, the fact that online isn’t handled through Steam but instead through creating a specific account for Milestone, nor have I mentioned the issues people are having with binding their controls. It’s safe to say that these issues exist, though I personally haven’t dealt with them. Yet.

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But once your inner rage has subsided from the initial setup woes and strange lack of support for PC sim racers, there’s an even crazier plot twist: Milestone actually built a bloody fantastic game.

I’ve been doing this shit long enough to be able to spot good driving physics when I see them. Rally Evo drives very similarly to DiRT Rally, with two major positive changes.

First, the cars don’t have super downforce/super grip on Tarmac surfaces. I actually enjoyed driving the shitboxes the game gives you early on in career mode, because conserving momentum and keeping your speed up took more than just maintaining a Grand Prix line through tight mountain passes. It felt like some genuine talent was required to drive on tarmac, and the woes of dealing with a front wheel drive hatchback were immediately apparent – even with my Xbox controller. As a result, the first few races in Career mode that should have been boring were actually quite fun. This is probably the only game I’ve played where shitbox racing was entertaining – especially when I got to some of the early rallycross races.

Second, the transition between surface types is every bit as sketchy as it is in real life. A major complaint in DiRT Rally was the outright lack of multiple surfaces over the course of a single stage. Greece was 100% gravel, Monte Carlo was 100% ice, Germany was 100% tarmac, Sweden was 100% snow, Finland was 100% gravel, and Wales was 100% gravel. The only time we got to try our hands at a stage with a mix of surfaces was in the historic layout of Pikes Peak – and it wasn’t much of a challenge.

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Rally Evo throws sim racers some genuine curveballs, as a multitude of point to point stages and Rallycross tracks heavily mix things up. Even better, the transition between surfaces is extremely noticeable and requires you to severely adjust your driving style. My first taste of the dangers of transitioning from tarmac to mud happened to be on the Los Angeles Rally Cross course. Long story short, the shock of going from grip to no grip was every bit as jarring as I expected it to be, and became an integral role in how the race played out.

However, as mentioned above, driving with any sort of modern gamepad just isn’t a satisfactory way to play Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. Look, I know some guys will come in and say it’s fine if you use X and Y assists, or that I’m just driving the wrong cars, but there’s no denying that the overall experience is just dreadful with a pad. This is because the game’s steering is programmed to control your driver’s virtual arms, rather than the steering wheel. Essentially, Milestone programmed input lag into the game engine, to simulate how long it takes for your driver to physically turn the steering wheel.

Eradicate this, as well as allow for multiple input devices so the majority of sim racers can actually play the game, and the raw physics engine has potential. Once you get into a proper rhythm with a quicker car – a pretty rare feat to be honest – you can tell that the physics engine powering Rally Evo is something that was built with a very tangible effort behind it. Even the little things, like the way the suspension soaks up bumps on a per car basis, or the way modern WRC cars exhibit huge body roll on Rally Cross tracks without losing traction… There’s something really fucking good waiting to be unleashed.

But at 200 km/h on a gravel road just barely wider than the car you’re driving, steering with a thumbstick doesn’t work. In the slower cars, you’re traveling at a speed where you can prepare for sections of the course and set the car up properly, but basically anything past the introductory cars turns into sheer frustration. Surviving a stage turns into trying to achieve 100% on a song in Guitar Hero. It boils down to memorization rather than driving skill.

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The experience complimenting the driving also suffers from a few problems. While diving into a level of detail not seen in DiRT Rally, adding “plus” and “minus” calls into all relevant corners, the co-driver oddly omits several roadside objects relevant to your success or failure. On the Wales stages, the co-driver misses many gates scattered throughout the course, leading to several “oh shit” moments where you fly past a pole mere inches from totaling your car. The co-driver also fails to inform you of corner obstructions such as rocks or signs, meaning the infamous “don’t cut” calls from DiRT Rally are nowhere to be found. Fortunately, the timing of the calls are quite good, and unlike DiRT Rally, there aren’t any sections that are way off or out of sync.

But the framerate, oh the framerate. As you can see in the DiRT Rally configuration above, I’m able to run the game with nearly everything turned up to Ultra and enjoy a silky smooth 60 FPS. By comparison, Rally Evo runs like an Early Access game. At Pikes Peak, the framerate hovers in the 50 range, with noticeable drops when there’s seemingly nothing on screen. In Finland, the multitude of trees drops things into the 30’s or even 20’s, as if I’m playing Grand Theft Auto IV on my old Xbox 360. Dust or water particles randomly appear in front of the car after I’ve gone through a puddle, significantly lowering frames for a second or two. The game has a bad habit of micro-stuttering, and sometimes this increases into periodic freezes that can’t be rectified in the pitiful graphics configuration menu. Sometimes the sound cuts out, sometimes objects disappear and reappear when you’re right next to them, sometimes blurry textures replace high-resolution ones when they’re in plain site, and guys are reporting the framerate takes a massive nosedive both at night and in the rain.

Oh, and it’s crashed on me a few times as well. As in, “this program has stopped working.”

Great.

If you remember how Bugbear’s Wreckfest performed back in 2013… Yeah, it’s kinda like that. The only difference is that this game is considered finished and retails for $100 Canadian. When on the track in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, if you’re not fighting the awful gamepad controls, you’re fighting with the extremely poor performance. But the worst part is knowing that there’s something good under the hood, and if these problems all went away for just a fraction of the time, you’d be satisfied.

Because not only is there a decent physics engine powering the title, there’s a ton of stuff to do in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo.

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Rally Evo has not one, but two full Career Modes; both focusing on completely different content, but tied together through the same user profile. Make no mistake, the single player portion of Rally Evo is massive. You’re not going to plow through this in a weekend.

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The Loeb Experience is a scenario-based mode that serves as an interactive documentary on the game’s cover athlete Sebastien Loeb. Introducing each category of challenges himself through videos featuring rare photographs, video footage, and his own personal accounts of his time as a participant in the World Rally Championship, the slick presentation gives way to single-stage events where you’re tasked with replicating one of Sebastien Loeb’s many dominant driving performances. This is where the game’s multitude of licensed Citroen rally cars comes into play, as each challenge features the period-specific car Loeb drove at the event, down to the exact livery changes. These challenges are not a cakewalk and some are incredibly frustrating with a traditional gamepad, as the completion requirements are jacked up to eleven and routinely force you to put on a display of world class driving skill. Finishing all challenges in a particular category unlocks one of Loeb’s many Citroen’s for use in the game’s Career mode, but obviously many people won’t even come close to finishing more than a handful of these challenges. Both the idea and execution of the mode are fucking awesome.

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However, the game’s Career Mode is where you’ll be spending a large portion of your offline racing, as everything you do in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is linked to your personal Garage. Unlike most racing sims, which allow you to fuck around with all of the content the game has to offer in Single Race mode, Rally Evo is one cohesive world intended to be something of a mix between Forza and Race Driver Grid. The game starts you with a Peugeot 106 shitbox, walks you threw a few tutorials, and turns you loose on the absolutely mammoth core of the game. Split up into the categories you see below, and then further divided into classes (for example, the Debut category is split between Rookie, Pro, and 1970’s), Rally Evo’s career mode has no shortage of races.

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And it has no shortage of cash payouts, either. Unlike Forza or Gran Turismo, which both force you to grind out some truly pathetic races until you’ve saved up enough to buy a moderately quick car, Rally Evo has structured its prize money in a way that you can start driving some of the quicker Group A and Modern Rally cars within an hour of booting up the game. With events not being locked away behind a meaningless XP bar, it’s extremely easy for someone to jump in and instantly start racing the cars they’re interested in driving, and feel like they’re getting somewhere. Combined with the prize cars a skilled driver can attain through the Loeb Experience, progression isn’t painful.

This is because the goal of career mode isn’t based on cash or a linear path of “leveling up,” but rather attaining Reputation Points. Basically, every event gives out Rep no matter where you participate, and every X amount of rep unlocks a new event in the Sebastien Loeb World Tournament. Achieve the number one spot on the fictional “World’s Best Rally Driver” leaderboard by amassing the most reputation points, and Loeb invites you to be his teammate for the 2016 Pikes Peak event. How you get there is up to you, meaning you won’t be forced to race shitboxes or grind out events you despise.

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Despising events, however, is a rarity in Rally Evo. There’s just so much to see and do, very rarely does it ever get old. With nine point-to-point rally locations, and five rally cross tracks in familiar territory, it’s difficult to get tired of progressing through career mode. The traditional rally stages are long – extremely long – with lap times consistently in the five, six, or even seven minute range. The stages in Sweden are nothing short of awesome, while the tight backroads of Mexico are probably the most technical stages ever to be featured in a rally sim. Wales and Finland graphically don’t stack up to what’s available in DiRT Rally, but the layouts themselves are equally as realistic, and I’d argue that Sweet Lamb in Rally Evo is arguably more accurate than the version seen in the Codemasters rendition. Rally Evo includes both the modern and classic versions of Pikes Peak, as seen in DiRT Rally, but the selection of Rally Cross circuits in Rally Evo are far superior. Los Angeles and Trois-Rivieres are instant classics, with the three facilities outside of North America offering layouts equally as captivating.

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Highlighting the excellent track selection are the cars themselves. Unlike DiRT Rally, which suffered from licensing setbacks and very notable omissions, Rally Evo has enough stuff in it to be comparable with the massive RSRBR community mod compilation for Richard Burns Rally. Entire WRC seasons are represented in full, and the game automatically prepares your car with all of the necessary visual upgrades for each event. Take a WRC-spec Volkswagen Polo to Los Angeles, and your headlights are automatically covered, along with your co-drivers name taken off the rear windows. Each event, you’ll receive a custom number plate tailored to the info you set in the driver information screen, (along with a custom suit, helmet, team name, and colors) and the livery editor ensures you’re driving something you can be happy with. And if you’re bored, at any time you can hit a button in the Main Menu that allows you to free drive around your team’s headquarters, a throwback to the test park in the WRC games made by Evolution Studios.

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Better yet, in a throwback to DiRT 2 or RalliSport Challenge, any car can be used anywhere. If you want to be a retard and take Hill Climb cars to a Rallycross circuit, you can. If you want to drive an old Mini up Pikes Peak, nothing is stopping you. WRC cars on a Rallycross track? Be my guest. This was a huge setback in DiRT 3 and DiRT Rally, and it’s been properly rectified here. Sure, some combinations are chaotic, but at least you aren’t bored.

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But just when the positives start to offset the negatives, and you start to enjoy the game despite the abundance of technical issues, another set of problems crop up with Rally Evo. The artificial intelligence is fantastic during Rallycross events – and it takes a lot for me to come out and say that about a racing sim in 2016. They’re quick, they don’t let you bully them, and if you leave them a gap, they’re taking it. Occasionally, you’ll run into issues where they cut turn one at Trois-Rivieres a bit too much and the field explodes upon collectively nailing the concrete wall, but this doesn’t happen with the frequency seen in proper circuit racing sims such as Assetto Corsa and Project CARS. The racing at Los Angeles is absolutely crazy, and even if you’re a decent driver to begin with, the AI will simply out-drive you if you haven’t prepared for war. It’s really fucking awesome.

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However, this surprising level of competence doesn’t carry over to other game modes – even though that level of competence is on display in the Loeb Experience. I jumped into a full rally at Wales in the Group A Ford Escort for a Career Mode race, and ended up winning the entire thing by a gap of three minutes. This was supposed to be a highly challenging Career Mode race, boasting $800,000 worth of prize money to the winner. Instead, the level of skill displayed by the AI was laughable.

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This was made even more aggravating by the fact that car damage appears to do nothing in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. In the rally pictured above, I rolled the car seven times in the final two stages, and even got stuck inside a collection of trees that took me a good twenty seconds to escape from, and I was never punished. There was no tangible decrease in my car’s performance, even though on more than five different occasions I should have totaled my car. Instead, I could wall-ride a certain coastal stage without even hearing the sound effects notifying me of the obvious concrete-on-metal contact.

I initially thought that this was a glitch, or maybe that particular Career Mode event had the car damage setting reduced by default, but upon attempting a run up the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in one of the game’s most difficult Career events, I discovered an even bigger issue. Despite falling off the mountain, and I mean intentionally pointing the car at the sky and shifting into sixth gear in my quest for 72 virgins, the game would place me back on the track as if nothing happened – not even giving me a time penalty. I literally tried to destroy my car in two separate events using the Realistic damage setting, and Rally Evo basically made it impossible for me to accomplish this task.

Pikes Peak becomes a lot less scary when flying off the track isn’t detrimental to your progress.

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And that act, in and above itself, becomes the all-encompassing theme surrounding Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. Just as the game begins to show a glimpse of it’s true potential, something you genuinely question how the developer team didn’t catch rears its ugly head and makes a mess of the whole ordeal. On paper, this is a game that easily surpasses DiRT 3, Richard Burns Rally, Rallisport Challenge, and DiRT Rally to become the best rally video game of all time. You simply aren’t going to run out of things to do anytime soon, and there’s always a new car, track, or feature to discover around every bend. With what’s probably the biggest roster of content, modes, features, and options ever seen in a rally game, Rally Evo is the most complete racing sim I’ve installed onto my PC.

On paper, that is.

In reality, every single truly amazing aspect of Rally Evo is overshadowed by bugs, glitches, annoyances, performance issues, technical hiccups, and outright retarded decisions on the part of Milestone. The game drives horribly with an Xbox 360 controller, triple monitor configurations and multiple input devices aren’t supported, the overall performance optimization is on-par with Early Access titles selling for far less, save game data is randomly corrupted, and Milestone are notorious for abandoning projects without even bothering to talk to the community and find out what’s wrong. There’s a very real chance none of these game-breaking issues will ever be fixed.

Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is the best rally game of all time by quite a significant margin, but as was the case several times throughout 2015, we have been sold a product that stretches the definition of what’s considered a working video game. Explaining this when getting your refund on Steam is quite simple, but actually pushing the developer into fixing this mess so we can enjoy Rally Evo in the way Milestone intended it to be played is an entirely different story.

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Technical Problems Plague Milestone’s Newest Rally Sim

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is a hefty $100. Yeah.

Sebastien Loeb

Delayed for a sizable chunk of time due to concerns over quality and polish, Milestone’s newest rally simulator bearing Sebastien Loeb’s namesake is a whopping $100 Canadian Dollars for the Special Edition package. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo saw a worldwide release today on PC, and my own personal excitement for the title has completely derailed upon seeing the ridiculous price Milestone is asking. Charging $8 per car and a crazy $72 for the base game, I’m completely aware that our Canadian dollar isn’t doing too well and our new Prime Minister sits like a pansy, but this is a bit excessive.

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Our review will most likely go live within the next week after I’ve played through a satisfactory portion of the game, and as a large group of sim racers will be holding off on this title due to the tendency for Milestone to release sub-par racing games, I’d like your input for the upcoming review. If there’s something you want to know about this game before buying it, let me know in the comments section below, and I’ll try to address it in the review next week. With some already growing tired of DiRT Rally due to the lack of stages, and a huge list of content inside the Sebastien Loeb game, making the transition to the other modern rally sim on the market isn’t exactly an easy decision when the Milestone logo is on the package.

Thank You For Purchasing MotoGP 14

Delayed for a pretty substantial amount of time due to concerns regarding the overall quality of the game, the PC demo for Milestone’s Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo dropped today, featuring one stage set in Monte Carlo, and three very different rally cars to test out. Weighing in at just over 4 GB, the download is a small glimpse of the title set to be released in a little over a week, serving as an alternative to the excellent DiRT Rally. However, the impressions of the demo are rolling in fast and furious, and they’re not good. Citing everything from framerate problems, a lack of support for common toy steering wheel setups, clunky menus, and no triple monitor functionality, sim racers giving their impressions of the title appear to be describing little more than a lazy console port.

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The port was so lazy, that as Reddit user djfil007 pointed out, the demo includes the wrong Readme file – one which advises you on how to configure your PC for Milestone’s MotoGP 14.

MotoGP

This is disappointing, as very little will be changed within Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo between now and the game’s release in seven days time. Those left unsatisfied with DiRT Rally and hoping Milestone’s newest title will offer a more fleshed-out experience are unfortunately stuck with DiRT Rally, for better or worse. To magnify the level of disappointment, Kylotonn’s WRC 5 shipped with approximately the same amount of missing functionalities necessary for a PC racing sim in 2016, and you’d think Milestone would have learned from the mistakes and shortcomings of their competitors.