Switching from gymnastics to rally racing doesn’t seem like the most logical progression in an athlete's career. In Sebastien Loeb’s case, however, the shift in profession catapulted the French prodigy to stardom. I had no idea who Loeb was until earlier this week, but after spending 50+ hours racing through Milestone’s latest sim, I am now more fascinated by both the sport and Loeb’s rise to fame.
Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO is yet another reflection of Milestone's unparalleled commitment to capture the racing scene. It’s a remarkable racer that’s only trumped by Codemaster’s Dirt Rally. This is, without a doubt, Milestone’s most ambitious title in years and my personal favorite rally racer of the last decade.
Milestone is known for delivering realistic and customizable gameplay, but they’ve always been several steps behind in the graphics department. SLR EVO feels like a fresh start for the devs. The improvements and changes in graphics, UI navigation and overall presentation are immediately noticeable for anyone familiar with their style. Everything is sleeker and the UI carries a design aesthetic similar to Forza’s Metro-style menus. SLR EVO is packed meticulously crafted tracks and cars that brim with detail and artistry. The graphics can’t quite compete with AAA giants like Forza or Project Cars, but they’re pretty damn close.
"This is, without a doubt, Milestone’s most ambitious title in years and my personal favorite rally racer of the last decade."
Once you complete the brief tutorial mission, you’re greeted to the career menu and its vast selection of tournaments. With a total of fifteen game modes, there is enough content here to keep you busy for weeks, if not months. The standard career mode is reminiscent of Gran Turismo in the way it splits up race categories and difficulty stages. Here, you advance from amateur to master tournaments while partaking in Classic Oldie Races, RallyCross and Pikes Peak events. You can even venture through the ‘Loeb Experience’ mode, which allows you to relive the champ’s career through eight different eras.
The gameplay is a mix of Codemaster’s Dirt Rally and Milestone’s WRC series. It’s a mix of arcade and simulation, but ultimately leans more on the arcadey side. I don’t see this as a negative, because Dirt Rally already handles rally simulation with perfection. For those who want to take a break from Dirt Rally’s punishing difficulty and are looking for a slightly more casual experience, it doesn't get much better than SLR EVO. The handling is responsive, tight, and let’s you slide into sharp corner with ease. Think of how Forza Horizon controls in comparison to the main Forza series and you can get an idea of how SLR EVO plays compared to Dirt Rally.
"Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO is a superb rally racer and an absolute must for any racing fan."
There are still some issues that could use a patch or two before Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO reaches its full potential. Technically, there are pop-ups that get in the way during racing, and some of the shadows in the interior view are outright broken. The controls are occasionally floaty, which makes some of the snow tracks feel like you’re driving a hovercraft down the road. Lastly, most of the steering wheels we tested felt less accurate than the gamepad, which may be a big deal breaker for those only seeking an authentic racing experience. But, even with all these quirks, Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO is absurdly fun, and to me personally, one of the best entries in the genre.
Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO is a superb rally racer and an absolute must for any racing fan. There are still some small issues that need ironing out, but as a whole, it’s a fantastic package that boasts more content than any Milestone title before it. Those seeking pure realism may want to stick with Dirt Rally, but anyone looking for a more casual approach that still packs a challenge should definitely give SLR EVO a chance.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC