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Game Info:

V-Rally 4
Developed By: KT Racing
Published By: Bigben Interactive
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Available On: Windows, PS4, Xbox One (Switch coming soon)
Genre: Racing
Number of Players: 1+
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
MSRP: $49.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Bigben Interactive for sending us this game to review!

Ever since Codemasters' release of DiRT Rally back in 2015 and its subsequent success, the rally simulator genre has had a massive resurgence, with several new entries. I have had the opportunity to review a few of them, including DiRT Rally itself, Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO, Gravel, and now V-Rally 4. Each of them is a solid effort, with varying degrees of attempted realism (or, alternatively, fun factor). (Sadly, we were not offered the opportunity to review DiRT 4.) V-Rally 4 is the latest effort from KT Racing, and honestly I think it's better than other reviews give it credit for, though not without flaws.

Like all of the other mentioned racers, it's a 3D racing game with an adjustable camera, where you can be behind or above the car, on the bumper, on the hood, or in the driver's seat. (I prefer on the hood, as you get most of the perspective of the driver with the advantage of a less-cluttered view.) Your goal, of course, is to be the fastest - though the form that takes depends a bit on what game mode you are playing.

There are five different kinds of races, which are Rally, V-Rally Cross, Hillclimb, Buggy, or Extreme-Khana. Rally is a race against the clock (you have to beat the other racers, but you don't see them on the track) from the beginning of a course to the end. Sometimes they are tarmac, but often are off-road. They use cars that are closer to road-worthy (though still clearly customized and tweaked) than some of the other modes. V-Rally Cross is a mode closer to what you might expect with racing games; you compete directly with other racers, and you are all trying to get through a certain number of laps the fastest. Whoever gets first place, wins.

Hillclimb is a variant on Rally, where you are tasked with climbing a very tall mountain, using extremely fast and powerful vehicles. These cars are a bit more like Formula One than street cars. In Rally, you have a co-driver that calls out what turns are coming up; in Hillclimb, you are alone. The first time I played this mode, it was kind of jarring, since I was so used to the helpful voice of your co-driver from Rally races.

Buggy races are fun; you drive around with other vehicles, similar to V-Rally Cross, but rather than being in a 'normal' stock car, you drive around in lifted buggies with large wheels. The levels have water, mud, jump ramps, and more craziness to make the levels more than your typical race. I enjoyed what I played of this mode.

V-Rally 4
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent graphics; racing wheel support feels really nice; good variety of racing game modes
Weak Points: Beating the AI, even on the easiest difficulty, requires significant skill; the game is a bit easier with controllers rather than a racing wheel (to me)
Moral Warnings: A mural of a girl in a swimsuit and short shorts in the intro (a.k.a. nothing to speak of)

Extreme-Khana is a driving mode where you are given a fairly fast car, and are expected to lap around the craziest routes with some of the tightest turns and stunts possible. For example, one of the levels has you driving around an Air Force base, where you get to dodge all kinds of obstacles, drift in circles, and even jump over an airplane – or drive along its wingspan if you aren't going fast enough. It's neat, but wasn't my favorite game mode (though I did love the classic Mustang Boss that you get to drive around in).

V-Rally 4 features a decent selection of vehicles to race around in, spouting labels such as Lancia, Mitsubishi, Honda, Opel, Ford, BMW, Mini, Porsche, Renault, Volkswagen, and a few more. I am far from a car buff, but I found no lacking in vehicle variety.

There are a good amount of tracks to race in. Each mode has their own tracks. Rally has six regions, with four tracks each – that's twenty-four distinct racing environments. Rally also features a 'Random' track mode, which mixes up parts of the other tracks into a different layout each time. (Rally is the only mode with a Random track selection.) V-Rally Cross has five regions with three tracks each. Hillclimb has three regions, with short, medium and long routes for each one. Buggy has four regions with three tracks each. And finally, Extreme-Khana has four regions (with one track each), with five different difficulties.

The regions are quite varied, and from all around the world. Sequoia National Park, Monument Valley, and Mount Rainier are just some of the tracks located in the USA. Europe has England and Romania represented. Asia has Siberia, Japan, China, and Malaysia. There are also African tracks, including Kenya, South Africa, and Niger.

As for the simulation itself, I find it to be a reasonable happy medium between fully arcade-style and fully simulation. There are options there for the sim lover; if you wish to tweak tires and such you can, but there are also sensible default profiles, and the game does a good job of choosing one for you given the terrain type of that level. So, you can be as involved (or not) as you wish in preparing your vehicle for a race. You can also turn on or off traction control and ABS, to make life easier (or more difficult).

The V-Rally mode, which is really a campaign mode, has you create a profile, and gives you a small amount of money; enough to buy a starting vehicle. In order to earn enough money to play more than one game mode, you will need to start winning races and earning money (which was a hill too steep for me to climb). You can also upgrade your ride, hire and manage crew, and look over your cars in the garage. There are also online leaderboards that you can compete on.

V-Rally 4
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 98%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 9/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Nevertheless, like many rally racers, it's not easy. I found my lack of skill quickly left me without money in campaign mode as I tended to place last (or near last) on most races. I found my performance to be a bit better on a controller rather than my racing wheel, though it is much more fun with a wheel. I'm sure I could get better with practice; just don't be surprised if you also need practice before you can succeed.

No matter how successful your career may or may not be, you can play whatever you like from the main menu via the 'Quick Game' mode, though you don't get much more than bragging rights if you win. There are both split-screen and online multiplayer modes as well. At the time I was looking, there were no online games available to play.

It has to be said that the graphics and audio are excellent. The video quality can be breathtaking at times; I took my gaming laptop and connected it to my home theater, brought over my racing wheel, and went to town – and it was awesome. The sound effects are also great, and there are some nice effects, like you can hear the car go through tunnels, under bridges, and things like that. There is no music to speak of, except for a somewhat annoying menu song. Otherwise, you only hear what you and your cars create.

Racing with a wheel feels really great. The gamepad is nice too, but I am very impressed with how the wheel feels as you go over various surfaces. The game engine also scales really well, as I was able to make it playable on the lowest settings on my GPD Win 2. I found it funny that the game does not always punish your times if you go careening off of a cliff. Or damage your car, for that matter. On the flipside, if you run into a tree, it can definitely hurt – and the car shows it, which I really like. Morally, the game is squeaky clean except for a mural of a girl in a swimsuit (really nothing to complain about, but I had to point it out!).

V-Rally 4 is one of the better rally-style racing games I've played. I would have to spend more time comparing it to some of the others, so I'm not going to rank them now, but I'll just come out and say that I believe this game deserves better than some of the scores I am seeing on other outlets (via Metacritic). It's a fun, well-balanced, graphically excellent racer that I really enjoyed my time with. I think with a few small tweaks to the AI difficulty, and some rebalancing, it could be one of the best.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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