DAKAR 18 – Xbox One Review
It won’t be easy, so I’ve got to savour this victory.
With the juggernaut that is Forza Horizons 4 currently tearing up the TV screens of the majority of Xbox One owners it takes a company with a lot of balls to release a racing game within that opening window. Dakar 18 is one such game but it’s not trying to hang onto the coattails of its racing counterpart because this is a completely different kind of beast.
Dakar 18 has been built with the sole purpose of recreating the world famous Dakar Rally and it’s brutal form of racing. Do not go into this game like I did expecting an arcade experience because it’s miles away from anything like that. Dakar is tough and doesn’t take any prisoners. I like the fact that the developers have decided against the easy option and have made a game that truly reflects the intensity of Dakar but that is also it’s downfall.
The opening tutorial is one of the most boring I’ve ever had to sit through and you can’t skip it. I found this extremely annoying but it’s there for a very good reason and it will pay dividends in the end. As boring as this section is because your just sat at the start line you’ll be introduced to the games navigation system and boy have you got to pay attention. There is a lot to take in here and your way won’t be highlighted by floating arrows or a highlighted racing line with barriers keeping everything on track.
From here on in your reliant on your co-driver and the navigation heads up on your windscreen. You’ll become pretty adept at learning these coordinates because you have no other choice. The environment is very open and it’s so easy to go off route and get confused. Hitting your waypoints isn’t as simple as driving through a series of flagged gates either. You must pass them on the left or right hand side and your co-driver will bark these directions at you. Woe betide you if you miss the mark.
It’s as hard and confusing as it sounds and learning a myriad of symbols and numbers really pushes you to your limits as symbols flash on and off the screen in quick succession. Not only are you concentrating on the directions but you’ve got to be on the lookout for specific obstacles that you need to pass. To.make the game even more difficult you will have to stop and repair your car if it sustains to much damage because the game isn’t tough enough as it is, obviously. I’ve never played a racing game that’s felt this tense before. Dakar 18 goes out of its way to strip you of all the hand holding modern racing games hand you the minute you boot the game up and it makes a particularly brutal experience. You can knock the difficulty down so you get more guidance but where’s the fun in that.
You’ll spend the majority of your time driving off road on terrain that makes life as difficult as possible for you. Powering over sand dunes and launching your vehicle into the air only to have it land nose first and become a complete wreck was commonplace at the beginning. You really have to listen to the instructions your co-driver is giving you. So when he tells you to slow down, you slow down. This is racing in the raw and it’s truly a no holds barred event as you barrel through a myriad of terrains all designed to push your driving skills to the limit and your cars endurance.
The endurance races will also test your mettle with distances ranging from 400 to 500 miles in total. During these marathon races I would have to pause several times just to take a break especially if I was doing particularly badly. One mistake in these races can cost you dearly and I often found myself getting frustrated very quickly and this in part is down to how the vehicles control. There is a multiplayer mode but I couldn’t try it out because I could never find anyone else online.
Every vehicle you drive handles like shit. Move your analogue stick to quickly and your vehicle will fishtail all over the places. I could understand it if it was something that only happened on specific terrain but it happens no matter what surface your driving on. It ruins the game and and it made me quit several times. Vehicles should not be this twitchy except when your driving on snow or ice. Having to brake into a corner is fine but having to brake to a near complete stop to complete that corner so you don’t lose control of the vehicle is no fun at all.
Your co-driver is one annoying bastard who continually barks orders at you. Go off route and he’ll scold you like a naughty kid. To make matters worse he sounds like 80’s movie star Steve Guttenberg, what do you mean who. I’ve nothing against him personally but being shouted at by the man from Police Academy and Three Men and a Baby did little to lighten my mood.
When all is said and done Dakar 18 is a brave attempt at bringing something different to the racing genre. But poor handling takes away any sense of immersion regardless of the vehicle or terrain. There is a solid foundation to build upon here and if they can sort the handling out they could be onto something.
Dakar 18 Day One Edition is available now for £49.99
Developer: Bigmoon Entertainment
Publisher: Deep Silver
Website: Dakar 18 Day One Edition
Review code supplied by KOCH Media