Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: September 19, 2018
V-Rally 4 is an arcade rally racer available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. The V-Rally franchise began on PS1 in 1997 followed by a Nintendo 64 port that released in Europe in December 1998 and in other regions including America and Japan in 1999 with a Game Boy Colour version also released in 1999, while V-Rally 2 released for PS1 in 1999 followed by a Dreamcast and PC port in 2000. V-Rally 3 took the series onto PS2 and Game Boy Advance in 2002 followed by ports to Xbox, GameCube and PC in 2003. Unfortunately, the V-Rally franchise was not seen or heard from again for 15 years until out of nowhere; Kylotonn Games bought the IP and announced a return to the series in the form of V-Rally 4. Can V-Rally 4 return the V-Rally franchise back to its glory days by picking up with the previous games left off through continuing one of the most entertaining rally videogame series of all-time?
Gameplay begins with a rally at Monument Valley in America, driving a Volkswagen Polo rally car that is essentially a driving test for the purpose of teaching the player such basics as how to accelerate, brake and accurately follow pace notes before starting a timed sector.
One of V-Rally 4’s strengths is the variety of event types as there are five unique event types in total that will cater to fans of racing and time trials. Rally is a traditional rally stage as the player attempts to set the best stage time, while V-Rally Cross is V-Rally 4’s representation of rallycross complete with the joker lap that sees the player competing against five A.I. controlled opponents in a six lap race. Hillclimb tasks the player to drive up or down a hill as quickly as possible in a different take on rallying, while Buggy events are four lap races situated in tough terrain against five A.I. controlled opponents, alongside Extreme-Khana that is reminiscent of Gymkhana, but with tracks located in far more extreme locations requiring the player to remain within the close confines of the cones, perfecting handbrake turns, jumps and more besides to set a quick aggregated event time over the course of three laps.
Quick Game mode allows the player to choose any event from one of five event types, the country hosting the event, the track the event is taking place on, difficulty level and conditions. Quick Game mode is a great game mode for anyone that has time for a couple of races to still be able to enjoy their preferred event types without having to dedicate plenty of time in V-Rally mode beforehand.
V-Rally mode sees your personal manager arranging events for you to participate in beginning with a V-Rally Cross event in England. There are some events that require a certain quantity of in-game currency to buy your way into entering an event, although the opening event is free to enter. After the introductory event; you will be allowed to browse a dealership for a car that can enter v-rally cross events or rally events, but separate cars must be purchased in order to enter different event types. The car can be tested before purchasing it and a technical sheet is available with precise knowledge of engine position, transmission, engine cylinders, gearbox, maximum torque, speed and power, acceleration, weight, power and power-to-weight ratio. Depending on the car’s specification; you can expect to pay anywhere from $46,000 up to $190,000 for a v-rally cross car, while rally cars cost from $39,000 to $239,000 each. Every purchased car can be viewed within the garage; where it can also be upgraded when enough money has been earned from positive finishing positions to be able to afford it which is an essential part of the career mode as a better performing car will naturally allow you to have a greater chance of winning events.
A technical director from Renault offers you a contract due to your performance in the opening event with a reward of $25,000 of in-game currency for completing a v-rally cross event with Renault; however when you compete independently in a car you have purchased, you will have to pay repair costs for your car. Crew management is also of importance in career mode including research crew, mechanic crew and agents; however every crew member costs in-game currency that is to be paid on a weekly basis, while a more experienced crew member will cost more to employ within your team. Hiring multiple engineers and mechanics are essential as they provide an improvement in different areas of the car, while agents have varying specialities such as an agent can bring in offers for v-rally cross events, whereas a different agent can get rally events or other event types that were not previously available within career mode. Car upgrades are earned through a combination of driving your car as much as possible and the effectiveness of the engineer crew you hired with the first upgrade unlocked early into your driver’s career in the form of a radiator upgrade that costs $1,200. Every car upgrade improves the performance index as an indicator to the quality of your car in which the engine, chassis, gearbox, radiator, exhaust, brakes, tyres, suspension, electronics and bodywork can all be improved.
Some sponsorship contracts will require the player to undergo a driving test to beat the lap time set by the potential sponsor before being able to start your progression towards achieving a accumulative objective such as finishing in the top 4 positions with a Renault in five events. Meanwhile, an online hub showcases a wide range of additional events that are updated from week to week, although there is a entry fee of $500 to $5,000 with the potential of winning a share of a prize pot of up to $100,000 in-game currency.
Car design is quite varied as every event type has an entire category worth of cars with a range of attributes including speed, acceleration, braking, stability, weight and resistance. V-Rally 4 features over 50 officially licensed cars comprising of rally, rally cross, hillclimb, buggy and extreme-khana categorised cars. For instance, older rally cars such as BMW M3 Rally, Mini Cooper S, Ford Escort RS 1600, Lancia Stratos and Renault Megane Maxi are included, but so are newer rally cars such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Rally, Citroen DS 3 R3T and Skoda Fabia R5 are just some of the cars that are available to drive in rally events. Meanwhile, rally cross cars include the Ford Focus RS RX, Honda Civic Turbo, Volkswagen Beetle Global RX, Mini Countryman RX and more besides, alongside the hillclimb category featuring Suzuki SX4 Pikes Peak, Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution 2, Pariss S62 and more. Buggy events also have their own unique vehicles to enter races such as Buggy SMG, Tatum Super Buggy, Volkswagen Beetle Buggy and more, while extreme-khana features the Ford Mustang Fastback, Honda CR-Z, Mazda MX-5 and more besides. Cars can be customised in the build-up to events within car settings. Car customisation includes three presets for participating in events taking place on tarmac, gravel and snow track surfaces or to customise every facet of the car setup such as gearbox ratio, front and rear ground clearance, front and rear spring strength, front and rear shock absorber compression and rebound and brake distribution.
Track and environment design is certainly one of V-Rally 4’s strengths as the rally events are situated in four separate special stages per location including Sequoia National Park, USA; Monument Valley, USA; Kenya; Malaysia; Japan; and Siberia, Russia totalling to 24 special stages. Meanwhile, v-rally cross takes place on three circuits per location including Mount Rainier, USA; England; Romania; China; and Japan totalling to 15 rallycross tracks. Despite there only being three locations for hillclimb events (Mount Rainier, USA, Romania and China); there are short, medium and long track lengths, various track section configurations and a hillclimb and downhill variant of each track. Buggy events occur on three tracks per location including Monument Valley, USA; Bolivia; Kenya; and Siberia, Russia totalling to 12 buggy tracks complete with alternative routes. Extreme-Khana has one track for each location including a base near to Las Vegas, USA; Detroit, USA; the Sahara Desert; and Cape Town, South Africa. V-Rally 4 does not have a track designer as featured in V-Rally 2; however it does include a random special stage option for rally events in which the player can continue to press next or previous until finding a preferred entirely randomised special stage layout. However, it would have been amazing if the randomised track layouts would have also been included in v-rally cross, hillclimb, buggy and extreme-khana event types.
Whereas Kylotonn’s WRC 5, 6 and 7 allowed players to customise weather conditions and time of day separately for many different permutations; V-Rally 4 only provides three pre-set conditions per event. For instance, players can participate in a v-rally cross event at three separate tracks in England during clear skies in the morning, heavy rain in the morning and cloudy skies at night time, while Romania does not allow heavy rain but includes foggy conditions, alongside a rally event in Siberia, Russia that can take place in heavy snow in the morning, however night time conditions are not available for every event.
Handling is nowhere near that of an arcade racer or any of the previous V-Rally games; instead it feels near enough identical to Kylotonn’s WRC 5, 6 and 7 that is completely the opposite of what V-Rally is supposed to be. Players will find themselves having to feather the throttle rather than being able to maximise the acceleration of their car as anyone should be able to in a fun arcade racer. Meanwhile, the car wants to spin, especially during v-rally cross and there are far too many instances of having to micro-manage the handling and braking in every car category and event type for it to ever feel as though it is an arcade racer.
Damage modelling showcases crumpling bodywork, the bumper folding in when there are multiple collisions at the front of the car, a shattered window in the area of the car that has taken the force of a crash, bodywork flying off the car such as losing wing mirrors and more besides, while handling also changes as the car becomes more damaged.
Inexplicably for an arcade racer; time penalties are as present as they have been in Kylotonn Racing’s WRC 5, 6 and 7. For instance, a time penalty is incurred for accidentally leaving the road and plunging into the trackside sea even though there were no trackside barriers to prevent that from happening during a rally event, but time penalties are unbelievably not just for rally events as multiple time penalties equated to 14 seconds worth of penalties that were endured for not landing the buggy on track after a large jump in Monument Valley or 2 second time penalties for every time you accidentally gently tap a cone in extreme-khana events. Time penalties are redundant in an arcade racer as they do nothing to increase the fun within the gameplay and certainly have no part in any of the previous V-Rally games either.
There are 5 excellently positioned camera angles including two third-person perspectives positioned a little closer to the car and further away from the car; a camera located on the centre of the bonnet showing the bonnet’s bodywork; a first-person camera mounted to the front of the car looking ahead without any bodywork; and an interior view located around the driver’s line of sight with his hands on the steering wheel. The internal view and both third-person perspectives have the ability to be fully rotated around the car to provide genuine immersion as players can see more of the surrounding environments in greater detail at any angle. Camera customisation offers 5 options between very close, close, normal, far and very far which determine the distance of the cockpit and both external camera angles in order for them to be as close or as far away as preferred. Therefore, such an appropriate level of customisation and all 5 camera angles being as well positioned as they are will certainly result in players being able to find a camera angle that suits their respective driving style which is a major positive.
You can watch a full replay of the event that you have just driven on with the ability to rewind or fast forward in super slow motion or quickly, pause, change the camera angles for a different view of the action and loop the replay back to the beginning to watch it all over again. You can view the replay from the 5 gameplay camera angles, while the internal view and both third-person perspectives can all be rotated with the third-person perspectives both having the capability of rotating 360 degrees in order to view your car in more detail as well as the nearby scenery. There are two further perspectives including an aerial view from onboard a helicopter that is reminiscent of Micro Machines and MotorStorm RC, alongside a dynamic camera angle positioned away from the car, around the car and even inside the car behind the driver and changing from camera to camera in the style of Gran Turismo. It certainly would have been amazing to see such a dynamic camera or at least the individual angles make the transition to being playable as you are driving as it would further complement the experience, while it is genuinely disappointing to not have the stunning aerial view as a gameplay camera angle. Replays also introduce a photo mode that allows the player to pan the camera around the exterior of their car and zoom in or out that works in harmony with the share feature, although it would have been nice to have more customisation within the photo mode such as screen filters, alongside the ability to change the camera angle and choose a different car.
Extras include features a shortcut to the trophy list, an extensive set of statistics which displays the amount of rally, v-rally cross, buggy, hillclimb and extreme-khana events completed in single player and online multiplayer as well as your amount of cars acquired, total distance travelled and more besides, alongside a full listing of credits for everyone who made the game possible.
It is disappointing not to see a Vita release of V-Rally 4 after the pretty good WRC 3 and exceptional WRC 4 from Milestone and the fairly good WRC 5 retail releases on Vita showed true potential for where rally gaming could evolve on Vita, while V-Rally had a Game Boy Colour release and V-Rally 3 had a Game Boy Advance version, although the consolation for V-Rally 4 is remote play. V-Rally 4’s remote play performance is pretty good as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version. Split-screen multiplayer is displayed in split-screen during remote play, although it would have been much better to have the player using remote play to have their own full Vita screen with the other player having a full television screen. The default control scheme during remote play has not been optimised at all; resulting in acceleration having been moved from R2 to the right of the rear touch pad and braking moving from L2 to the left of the rear touch pad. I had the best remote play experience with V-Rally 4 after customising the control scheme in which acceleration was re-mapped to R1 with braking moving to L1 and switching the toggling of the windscreen wipers from R1 to the right of the rear touch pad and moving the toggling of the headlights from L1 to the left of the rear touch pad; therefore providing a comfortable control scheme much better suited to the racing genre.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller and are mostly customisable. The default control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to apply the brake or reverse the car; pressing X to manually shift up a gear; pressing square to manually shift down a gear; pressing O to engage the handbrake; pressing triangle to respawn your vehicle following a crash; pressing R1 to switch the windscreen wipers on or off; pressing L1 to turn the headlights on or off; pressing up on the d-pad to display ghost car(s); pressing right or left on the d-pad to cycle through to the next or previous camera angle respectively; moving the direction of the left analogue stick to the left or right to steer your car in that direction; moving the direction of the right analogue stick forwards, backwards, left or right to manoeuvre the camera angle to look in that direction from the cockpit view or pan the camera around the car in both third-person camera angles; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
Despite the customisable control scheme; there is no way of mapping the steering to the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality of the DualShock 4 controller and the touch pad cannot be mapped to at all. It is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative steering method to the left analogue stick, while the touch pad implementation is not utilised which is somewhat disappointing as an optional control scheme from MotoGP 13 on Vita included tapping the appropriate side of the rear touch pad to shift up or down a gear; therefore it is clear that this level of functionality is possible for a controller in a racing game. Vibration occurs when shifting through the gears, encountering wheel spin and during collisions, while there is no light bar implementation which could have produced an alternative HUD to reflect the health of the car.
Graphically, V-Rally 4 is impressive in more ways than one such as the foliage and amount of life within the scenery as best showcased in Sequoia National Park and environmental details including a plane flying over the start-finish straight at the end of the first lap in the rally cross event located in China, alongside excellent car models and car deformation.
V-Rally 4’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the title menu, main menu, V-Rally mode menus, quick game menus, local and online multiplayer menus, online leaderboards, options menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick or touch pad. Menu backgrounds include a multitude of racing scenarios per menu.
A female voice-over is that of your personal manager that organises your participation in events during the driving test and v-rally career mode. Meanwhile, a male co-driver verbally demonstrates authentic co-driver pace notes in certain events such as rallying as he depicts the required approach to the upcoming corners, straights and jumps which are available in a number of languages including British, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Sound effects include accelerating and shifting through the gears, braking and collisions with other cars and trackside objects. Unfortunately, there is no diversity in the soundtrack as a rap song repeats during menus; that is seemingly out of place as surely rock or classical music would be more of a fitting soundtrack to the event types contained in V-Rally 4, although at least there is an instrumental version for players who don’t listen to rap music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced sound effects or voice-overs.
The trophy list includes 50 trophies with 36 bronze trophies, 11 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Director bronze trophy for trying all in-game cameras; the Teleportation bronze trophy for using the manual respawn for the first time; the Meteorologist bronze trophy for finishing a race in each weather condition; And Then There Was One bronze trophy for finishing in last position in a race. Harder trophies include the Mythical gold trophy for becoming a world champion in every event type and the Adventurer gold trophy for driving an accumulated 3,000km. There are 9 online multiplayer trophies that will take a vast amount of time towards the platinum trophy. Online multiplayer trophies include the Hat Trick bronze trophy for winning 3 online quick races; the First Try bronze trophy for competing in your first online race; the Versatile silver trophy for completing a race online in each vehicle category; the Hot Rod, Joker, Climber, Purist and Off Road bronze trophies for finishing 25 online events per vehicle category in rally, v-rally cross, hillclimb, extreme-khana and buggy respectively; and the Stakhanovist silver trophy for finishing a total of 200 online events. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 40 to 50 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are 5 A.I. driver difficulty levels including very easy, easy, medium, hard and very hard which provides a far more competitive pace set by each of the A.I. during every car category and event type following every step up in difficulty. Players have a high probability of lapping the field in v-rally cross on very easy difficulty, although players will have to drive flawlessly on very hard difficulty to prevent the A.I. controlled cars from lapping you, while the same can be stated for much greater competitiveness in times set by A.I. drivers in time based events on very hard difficulty. Meanwhile, a customisable driving style offers the ability to turn on ABS, TCS and a manual or semi-automatic gearbox and a manual or automatic clutch.
Split-screen multiplayer allows 2 players to participate in every rally, v-rally cross, hillclimb, buggy and extreme-khana event available in single player. Further customisation includes track length in certain modes such as hillclimb, track layout, difficulty, conditions and your preferred car within the event type’s car category, while the graphical fidelity and sense of speed is mostly retained from the single player performance throughout all 5 gameplay camera angles in vertical and horizontal split-screen display that helps on narrow tracks. Split-screen multiplayer is appreciated; however it must be stated that there are a variety of issues that have not been improved upon since the introduction of split-screen multiplayer in Kylotonn Racing’s previous WRC games. Such problems include an audio glitch that occurs when player 1 completes the event but player 2 is still racing as the audio reduces in volume quite significantly, both cars have no collision detection other than in v-rally cross and buggy event types resulting in not being able to prevent a car from overtaking you in almost every event type, no ability to play a group events in the form of a customisable championship, no option to turn off the time penalties, no replays, no car setup customisation and if a player changes their control scheme, then it also adjusts the controls for the other player.
Online multiplayer supports 2 to 8 players, while retaining the same sense of speed and graphical fidelity from single player gameplay in which your finishing position in events within an online lobby is rewarded with points that forms an ongoing championship for as long as the online lobby exists instead of just being individual events. Online multiplayer includes a quick game mode which searches for an existing online multiplayer game to join as soon as possible, while find lobby provides a selection of customisable preferences for the type of online lobby you would prefer to join including rally, v-rally cross, extreme-khana, buggy and hillclimb event types. Create lobby allows the player hosting the online lobby to choose from rally, v-rally cross, extreme-khana, buggy and hillclimb event types, alongside public or private lobby visibility and invite their friends into your customised lobby for 2 to 8 players.
Online leaderboards focuses on record times for every event in each of the five event types, while you can compare your positioning on the leaderboards with players globally. Each leaderboard contains each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and the best time set by each player for every track configuration in every event type.
V-Rally 4’s replayability originates from over 50 cars to choose from dispersed across five event types and according car categories that can be fully customised and upgraded, alongside an extensive career mode and a quick game mode complimented by split-screen multiplayer, online multiplayer and online leaderboards that will keep V-Rally fans returning for quite some time.
- Title: V-Rally 4
- Developer: Kylotonn Games
- Publisher: Bigben Interactive/Maximum Games
- System: PS4
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1-2 (Split-Screen Multiplayer)/2-8 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 29.14GB (PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download – Version 1.04)