REVIEW – Albeit being a rarely done adaptation (which had no direct relation to Dakar for a decade by now..), the effort isn’t successful enough to make me pay fifty dollars for it, as it has significant issues that are represented in the final rating as well.
Dakar Rally goes through South America nowadays (until 2007, the cars, bikes, and trucks went from Paris to Dakar), so the event is not the same anymore. The game adaptation follows seventeen years after the previous one, but the large desert lands are now replaced by other major regions, which now has other hazards like muds or slopes.
Despite the Unreal Engine 4 suffering big time under the game (I’ll explain this later), the way how the weather is implemented in the game is excellent in my opinion, and if you don’t end up quitting the game early (which I would recommend, though…), you might enjoy how Bolivia has some thunderstorms added to the mix.
Also, I think I should mention another positive in the form of the ambience: it has a distinct feeling to take the several kilometres long trip, which, despite being shortened down, are somewhat modelled after the real deal. Also, the thought itself that the Dakar Rally finally received a brand new game adaptation is just as respectable as was the case with TT Isle Of Man roughly half a year ago.
Indeed, the negatives will far outweigh the positives, which, as mentioned before, will be seen in the final rating, too. Let’s start with the fact that the Unreal Engine 4 is hardly capable of keeping up with the game. Oh, you have to get there first, as the loading times will be bothersome. (It seems to be a trend – more games have loading time problems than last year, don’t they?) The engine’s common flaw is also present: the textures will not load properly for the first time, and they will pop in, and it’s going to be seen on your vehicle almost every single time the stage loads!
The mud doesn’t seem realistic, either: you will see that, especially when the frame rate starts to take a dip. Don’t look at the dirt and the textures for too long, as your car/bike/truck might get damaged. Sure, you can apply some repairs on the road, but it will give you time penalties. The damage model is also weird – sometimes you get massive damage from a small bump due to getting to the next waypoint in your approach, and in other cases, a heavy landing after a jump won’t even cause minor damage.
Unique approach – if you get lost, you can get back to the last waypoint, but teleporting back there will net you another hefty, fifteen-minute time penalty, and you might be put back on the road several miles behind if you do so. Getting lost is possible, and then, your co-driver, whom I’d frankly toss out the window at the first possible opportunity, tells you after a long silence to turn back.
What the hell were you doing for the past few minutes then, you dipshit? The co-driver ruins the experience altogether. If you end up detouring just a little from his notes, then he might continue navigating you, but it might also result in bringing up turning back. He’s unpredictable, and at this point, I’d prefer going alone or by using a bike. At least then, I’d hear the audio mistakes as well, as the engine sounds could disappear for no reason out of nowhere, which results in an even more refined experience! One more thing: you have to get used to that HUD in the bottom right corner to win. Be warned!
Recommending you to buy Dakar 18 would only be done so if you can get this game for less than 15 dollars/euros. Otherwise, I cannot recommend this game. The same team is behind this game as the console ports of Alekhine’s Gun, which was a terrible Hitman clone in my opinion: Bigmoon Entertainment, whose website’s news section hasn’t been in over two and a half years while the rest were.
Dakar 18 was a too large-scale project for the developers – Deep Silver (= THQ Nordic) could have been better off without this game. Dakar was done over eight months ago, so the game adaptation is a little too late to the party. It also brings up the question: was Dakar 18 necessary to exist? Its graphics are meh, audio-wise, only the engine sounds are alright, the handling feels too stiff (plan at all times), the gameplay damn, and the ambience is good. It would be a 5/10 game if you asked me. Not even another developer, such as Kylotonn helped (and they also don’t seem to be capable of making a great racing game, lol).
+ Some good ambience
+ The weather seems to be okay
+ Despite having no relation to Dakar itself anymore, we rarely see Dakar Rally receiving a game
– I’d get rid of the co-driver right at the start
– The Unreal Engine 4 has major issues from loading times to performance
– The damage model seems somewhat random…
Publisher: Deep Silver (=THQ Nordic)
Developer: Bigmoon Entertainment
Release date: September 25, 2018