Dakar Desert Rally by Saber Porto

George Skendros
George Skendros

With Dakar 18, the first official Dakar game in 15 years, developerSaber Porto altered this in 2018. Despite being an accurate replica of the challenging rally raid event, the game's aggravating difficulty, bad car control, and unimpressive visuals prevented it from reaching its full potential.

With the release of Dakar Desert Rally, a sequel has been released after four years. This time, a lengthier development period helps the sequel. Theoretically, this enables Saber Porto to create the most genuine Dakar game ever by completely realizing their idea.

 

This game's ambition is admirable. Developer Saber Porto says Dakar Desert Rally is the "largest rally racer ever" with over 130 stages over 20,000 square kilometers. Although the setting can become monotonous (after all, the game is set in the desert), challenges like shipwrecks to avoid and planes with strategically placed wings to jump over give diversity.

The Dakar Desert Rally has stunning visuals. Environments are exquisitely detailed, and the time of day and dynamic weather effects that restrict vision are some of the best we've seen in a contemporary racer. Vehicles also produce heavy clouds of dust and grime. Fans of the previous game will feel incredible as they traverse the endless desert plains with their motorized monsters, and despite complaints of a monotonous environment, Dakar Desert Rally rewards us with its gorgeous graphics and landscapes. Even in the previous game, the desert driving and the constant search for the route combined with the beauty of the environment created an experience that stood out from all other racing games.

There are little accessibility choices available at least for now, since we could see several patches in the future. You can't change the AI difficulty, switch on vehicle assistance, or disable damage to change the level of difficulty. Sport mode is quite challenging still. Your motorized monster will suffer irreparable damage if it collides head-on with a rock at high speed. Sport Mode is certainly fun with a variety of vehicles, from cars to enormous trucks blasting over the desert and aggressive AI opponents that will knock you out if you smash into them. You can immediately fix severe damage, but it will cost you time.

Let's get serious!

For those who desire a more genuine Dakar Rally experience, Professional mode eliminates the beacons, so you must rely on your Road Book and co-driver to negotiate the dangerous terrain. This adds a new level of difficulty, but you can't always depend on them because the robotic-sounding co-driver occasionally calls too late.

It won't be simple for anyone who haven't utilized navigation in rally games before, and even if you have, expect to mess up a lot until you get used to the system this game uses. You'll frequently be reaching new waypoints just tens of seconds apart since the game's stages have been compacted in duration to make them more approachable for players of varying skill levels. You'll also need to manually move your roadbook to stay up because the game only flags you when you pass specific waypoints. And all of it was done while driving, checking the miles, navigating, watching for boulders, etc.

By deleting save spots, deactivating respawn, upping the AI complexity, and imposing speed limits, Simulation mode increases the challenge even further. However, until you achieve Level 25, which can take up to 10 hours, this option is restricted. Sport Mode makes sense for introducing new players to the game gradually, but die-hard fans must put through hours of work to really experience the Dakar.

Can you handle this?

The car's handling is pretty much perfect for "simcades." Although it isn't as gruesomely detailed, it still has a very tactile and realistic feel to it. The problem is that oversteer now seems unnatural; as soon as a car starts to oversteer even slightly, a spin-out is all but guaranteed. This is a problem that exists in all vehicle types, but at varying degrees, with quads acting worst and trucks typically being more controllable. 

The inconsistent handling of the car is a bit troublesome.The vehicles often seem responsive, but they lose grip far too quickly. Unfortunately, this causes instances where you can oversteer and spin out of control onto the closest rock without being able to recover, even after counter-steering and letting off the gas. Additionally overly sensitive and susceptible to spinning out if you steer too hard are bikes and ATVs. On the other hand, heavy-duty vehicles are more stable, fun to drive, and satisfyingly substantial.

 

Racing through the desert damaged the vehicle, who knew, huh?

Although the car maintenance is less complicated than in some rally games, the game is nevertheless rather enjoyable. If you damage your car, you do have to pay a fine in Dakar Points, one of the game's two "currency, " although the cost isn't too high.

 

Since the days of Burnout before EA, the soundtrack may be my favorite original racing game OST. I understand that not everyone will enjoy hard rock with an orchestra backing, but I couldn't be more pleased with the decision. Also fantastic is car audio. The navigator lines occasionally appear robotic, extremely American, confusing, and don't always seem to match the roadbook exactly, but for the most part they nevertheless accomplish their objectives. In any case, I've mostly been driving bikes, where there isn't place for a navigator, so it's up to me to interpret the mysterious writings in the roadbook in (relative) quiet.

 

Absolutely a brilliant game that managed to scratch the itch of a proper game that is similar to Forza's rally raid but they managed to replicate as much of the sport as possible. Enjoyed it so far and please fix the bugs.

Positives:
+ Absolutely a delight to play. Can't really say the same for a lot of newer racing games while Dakar respects the sport decently. It is not sim like AC but it is one very very very enjoyable game on gamepad
+ It is nice to see a licensed series game that have cars from several years in one game plus vintage cars.
+ Driving handling is quite good for the most part on gamepad.
+ You do need to see where you drive, as landing wrongly over a sand dune will wreck your car
+ There is an element of endurance too despite fairly short races where you have to live with damages. Broke one head lights 25% into a race? Have to live with one headlight in the dark.
+ The cars and bikes has decent handling characteristics
+ Reasonable accessible, it feels like a long lost cousin of Grid 1 or Dirt 2 to me
+ No party atmosphere that plagues many modern racing games from Forza to Grid Legends. All you get in Dakar is humans vs nature
+ The track variety are fantastic that ranges from jumping over sand dunes, speeding through mountainous terrain or even crossing towns. Very good sense of journey.
+ Love that you see other classes on the rally where even if you drive a car, you'll still see some bikes, quads or trucks racing ahead
+ The AI is decent, they do make mistakes when they are driving through dangerous environments but it is occuring too often. No catchup or AI running on god mode physics which is nice and suited for the spirit of Dakar. Unlike Forza ridiculous AI in raid mode.

Negative:
- Performance isnt the best, with occasional stutter to low 20 fps
- I have been getting fatal error crash to desktop
- The occasional weird snapping behaviour with the physics is annoying. Often happens when you corner the car
+ Environment is beautiful with good variety
- The unlock system is absolutely rubbish to get the vintage cars, you need to win the rally with all 5 classes to unlock the vintage car.
- The unlock system for modern cars is also rubbish, you need to buy each car with each livery separately. Cash gain is slow but no IAP
- AI is not perfect, they are crashing too often now. Especially the trucks.

George Skendros

George Skendros

History, guitar and pop culture enthusiast. George is interviewing artists from all over the world while he is studying for his second master's degree.

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