Wednesday, 07 March 2018 14:48

REVIEW: Gravel (Xbox One)

Written by Brett Hale
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(4 votes)

There are so many racing games, new and old, and it's really hard for them to compete against the big guns of Forza, Dirt or Gran Turismo but I think Milestone s.r.l. have brought something to the table that racing fans will have a blast with.

Gravel brings a mix of racing styles and a large amount of car brands like Toyota, Ford, Nissan and more!! From the very start some cars are already unlocked, but to use any of the locked cars, you’ll need to level up in order to unlock them, same goes for liveries which are also unlockable. Gravel has 16 locations not counting DLC, from locations in the USA to Australia and more with most tracks having variants of themselves. Gravel supports both offline and online play, however read on and I’ll be speaking about the online issues I faced.

This isn’t a sim racer, it's pure arcade racing much like the Forza Horizon games. Controls make it easy to drive all vehicles and you can change things through settings on vehicles if you choose to. Like a number of other games, if you crash you have the ability to rewind a small part backwards and continue on. There is well over 90 levels to rank up, and if your chasing to unlock liveries and vehicles you’ll need to level up very high.

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There's also a good number of events to play from lap races, time attack, elimination, smash up and that’s just to name a few. Difficulty is ranged from very easy up to very hard. Gravel takes us to many locations, and that means the terrains will change depending where you are. You’ll race on snowy tracks at times or in blizzard conditions, others will have sand or mud either in the desert, jungle or even in stadiums. Weather and times of day also comes into play. Times of day include, dawn, day, dusk and night whereas weather can be snowy, clear skies, rain or just wet.

Gravel is a straight up racing game, the main menu has everything you'll need. The career mode is called Off-Road Masters, it's short for even a racing career but it has replay value. The point of the career mode is to play events and each can earn yourself 1 - 3 stars depending on your race outcome, and it's these stars that you’ll need to earn to unlock future events, and to completly unlocked them all you’ll need 100 stars. Events are broken into episodes, and there are a few special episodes where you face a particular driver. Difficulty can be changed at anytime so if it's too easy or maybe too hard it's not an issue. The career modes tv show idea was totally grabbed from an older racing game called Split Second, there not exactly the same but both have the same idea. Now, maybe you've completed the career mode and don’t want to play online, well your in luck, as there is other single player content being free race and time attack, both have a range of tracks and vehicles.

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As you’ll be driving through mud and and water your car will become dirty all in real time. As for vehicle damage, you can have it as visual only or to the point that damage will affect the vehicle's performance. There were times whilst playing I faced some glitches, example being starting a race with an invisible car that wouldn’t move or even having my car or driver flip out off the track into a world of nothing, or just a couple of times the game would freeze for a few seconds and then unfreeze and the race would continue like nothing happened. It does differ between tracks, though good news is the loading times are very quick.

I wasn’t 100% confident on how the visuals would look as my last experience with one of Milestone s.r.l. games was MXGP3 and that game was not my cup of tea both visually or for it's gameplay, but Gravel is one small step for Milestone s.r.l. and one giant leap for racing games. Some tracks look better than others, and they really pop when you put rain into the equation. Track surfaces have puddles, and you’ll see water spitting out from the back of tyres, and lighting reflections are superb. Though, I didn’t think much of the water effects on the television screen that represented water splashes or just rain hitting it, they looked poor and was more of a distraction and it cannot be turned off. Now, it doesn’t just have to rain for tracks to look great, racing at night is pretty epic but even daytime looks good. I reviewed on Xbox One, specifically both the One X and One S, and they both have there differences.

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There isn’t much difference between both PS4 Pro and Xbox one X, Gravel does look far nicer on a Xbox One X running on a 4KTV than say on a Xbox One S on a 1080p screen. What stands out between both Xbox consoles is the resolution, clearly the Xbox One X is pushing out a much higher resolution than 1080p and it really shows. Vehicles are highly detailed from the body to spare tyres, even the radiatior fans spinning as you race. As for how vehicles sound, there are many types and each has its own sound, some did sound odd but most were what you’d come to expect to sound like.

You can play online either with friends in privately created lobbies, or matchmake with other players on your consoles network. Matchmaking at the time of reviewing had issues as searching for other players never happened, I would just stare at a please wait screen soon to be shown a communication error with Xbox Live. However, playing in private match with a friend 
would easily work right away, so i'll have to hopefully come back and add the matchmaking part if it ever decides to work to my review. All tracks and vehicles unlocked are available to play online, there are a range of modes to take part in and as long as the matchmaking works it's worth playing online. In the main menu you’ll see the Weekly Challenge, this is not for single play instead you’ll need to do this with someone else online, rather odd but that’s how it goes. Weekly Challenge has everything selected for you from the track, weather this mode you just need to attempt at getting the fastest time.

Gravel is a great game if your into racing games, or if your wanting something different this is the game for you. Forza and Dirt are the elite in the genre but they might have a stiff competitor in the near future if Milestone s.r.l. continue to improve their games. My only downer about the game was the fact online matchmaking wasn’t working and the few bugs I encountered. Overall it's a must have racing game.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE
  • Developer: Milestone S.r.l.
  • Genre: Racing