The Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), organise the annual rally event known as Dakar, this is game is the official racing simulator of the event. Set in South America you can race in three locations.
Peru for example is this reviewers most hated area of the game. Players start off racing here in the Adventure mode (Single player). The Peruvian desert can be hard to traverse; if players are not rocking the ‘rookie’ difficulty setting, the chances of finding the next way-point is very slim unless one find their way again. The other two areas of the game take you to Bolivia and Argentina, let’s not go there.
Git Gud… Via Tutorials!
When starting a fresh play through, this reviewer recommends playing the tutorials to learn the complex way-point system. This uses a real world like Global Positioning System (GPS) that Dakar 18 calls the road book. As stated in the tutorials early on, players on a Bike or a Quad have no Co-Driver, which means racers have to rely solely on the road book. Using a vehicle with more than two seats however grants a co – driver who calls out directions on the road book as well as doing a great job of telling players if they are going the right way.
When playing on rookie, players leaving the track far enough will see the way-point in the top centre of the screen on the compass. On higher difficulties, this doesn’t happen at all as getting lost results in a simple revert to the last checkpoint. Ouch.
Rookie mode on the other hand is quite forgiving and allows such activity due to the help Dakar 18 gives with waypoint markers. However, this reviewer recommends taking care whilst enjoying some cross country driving due to the amount of excess damage that will impact the players vehicle. A write off will result in the aforementioned revert to the last checkpoint whilst complimenting the players actions with a lengthy load screen.
In the case of the Bike and Quad options, falling off results in the players driver having a little paddy before getting back to the race. Whilst one gets what Dakar 18 is trying to portray, it’s ultimately an annoying waste of time. On the flip side, a nice addition to immersion is being able to exit vehicles to assist other racers who are stuck by attaching a winch cable to their vehicle and tugging them free.
There are four game modes, the single player adventure mode (as described earlier), Split-screen Multiplayer. Online Multiplayer and Free Mode, which is by far the best mode (well for this reviewer anyway).
Who Mapped the Controller!?
In the free mode, players can freely explore each of the open world maps and collect treasures relating to each regions cultural heritage. Players can also use this mode to practice their driving skills and get used to Dakar 18’s queer mechanics a bit more.
The controls on Dakar 18 are not that great to be honest, being way to sensitive at times yet finding similar frustrations akin to trying to turn a house without wheels (not that many houses have wheels). However, that might not necessary be a bad thing as there is several options to change the settings. This reviewer believes that the optimal controller config should be standard out of the box, Dakar 18 seems to have taken an alternative route.
Overall Score: 6.4 / 10
There is plenty to do in Dakar 18, even if it does look like a 360 era game, but graphics don’t make the game, story and replay-ability does and Dakar 18 certainly has plenty to offer.
As one mentioned at the beginning of the review, this is not a bad game at all, it is meant to be as close to the real event as possible which this reviewer completely respects. However, it is a bit to difficult for the average player or someone who doesn’t play a lot of simulator games. The way point system and initial controller setup is a bit silly though…
Formats: Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4 and Steam
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Bigmoon Entertainment
Release Date: 25/09/2018
Pegi Rating: 7+
Review copy provided by publisher