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There are really no major problems with Gravel, the latest offering in the seemingly endless off-road arcade racing genre.
The minor problem is that we have pretty much seen it all before.
And, hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you enjoy the sort of driving game where you can sit back, work those sticks, fly off for a hoon and not have to think too much.
It’s a fun game, based around the ‘‘Gravel Channel’’ and something called ‘‘Off-Road Masters’’, a reality TV-type career mode where you start on the lowest rung and must compete in a variety of events, unlocking more content depending on how well you have done in the previous tier. It’s all very familiar, but progression is smooth and quick, which is ideal for the casual gamer.
Game modes are, again, predictable but nothing to get too worked up about. There are straight checkpoint races, lap races, time attack (effectively like normal rallying) and something called Smash Up, a rather odd addition in which you have to make quick decisions, based on a greenlight system, about which barriers to drive through.
There are real-life locations, from the sand dunes of Namibia to a rallycross circuit in Norway, and there is just enough variety in the tracks to keep you from getting bored.
The difficulty curve is gentle, though naturally you can crank up the AI skill level.
Car freaks will be moderately happy with the choice of vehicles available and those that can be unlocked, and proper off-roaders from Porsche and Subaru and the likes are all officially licensed.
Elements of the game are, well, a bit naff. There’s that sort of heavy music that aims to create more drama, and the commentary is just awful.
But Gravel looks fine, plays nice, and gives you a great sense of speed and fun. As arcade driving games go, it’s a fair effort.
For: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: (G) ★★★