Recently Kylotonn has been swiftly expanding their foothold in the racing genre by bringing several titles back from the dead. We’ve had the already released, and somewhat average, Flatout 4 (the first main title since 2011). Also, an announcement in late 2016 suggests (although not yet confirmed) that the French development team is working on an upcoming Test Drive game from a series which hasn’t seen the light of day since you guessed it, 2011.
The very latest racer to emerge reborn is V-Rally 4. That’s right, after a 16-year absence the V-Rally series gets a new entry. However, the fourth title in the series shares little to no similarities to the original trilogy of V-Rally games which you may find jolting.
The meat and potatoes of V-Rally 4 are found within its V-Rally Mode. Here you’ll be expected to compete across its five disciplines of Rally, V-Rallycross (groans), Hillclimb, Extreme-Khana, and Buggy, with the goal of becoming the Grand Champion in each.
Events randomly appear on the “Activity Hub”, these refresh regularly so you can compete in whichever events you wish and avoid your weaker ones if you like. As you play through, you’ll see higher level events appear which provide more lucrative prizes at the cost of very reasonable entry fees.
On your journey through the V-Rally Mode, you’ll be expected to recruit a racing crew: mechanics provide quicker and cheaper vehicle repairs; research staff increases the rate at which upgrades become available; whereas agents provide a plethora of perks including decreasing the cost of vehicles, increasing the likelihood of more lucrative events, and deliver better sponsor contracts to name a few. Naturally, the more experienced crew members ask for more wages which are paid on a weekly basis (don’t worry you seemingly cannot get into debt).
Sponsors will approach you with objectives such as driving a required mileage, jumping a certain distance, or reach a required cash amount among others. Satisfying these objectives will net you cash rewards of varying amounts. You have a total of three sponsor contract slots and only one constructor slot so you may need to choose wisely at times.
While this all sounds in-depth, it’s feels largely thrown together so don’t expect anything similar to DiRT 4 in the management department.
Unfortunately, you are never aware of how far you’ve progressed in any of the five disciplines. This leads you to aimlessly enter event after event in the faint hope that a championship will rear its head. This makes the V-Rally mode feel like a bit of an unorganised mess.
No Scooby snacks
The V-Rally 4 vehicle selection, which weighs in at over 50 (all upgradable), largely caters for the more mature audience with a definite focus on older rally cars. While this will appeal to fans of the original trilogy of V-Rally titles, many will find the selection lacking sorely in modern examples. Oh, and there’s no Subarus whatsoever.
Thankfully, vehicle handling is generally satisfying whether using a controller or racing wheel across V-Rally 4’s five disciplines. Keeping the Renault R5’s back-end in check on gravel is a blast, pushing the limit of grip in the 911 GT3 RS on tarmac never fails to entertain, and thrashing the Mk1 Escort on mud is as fun as it should be.
That said, the understeer on some front wheeled drive cars seem excessive, some high powered vehicles can be a real handful too particularly on slippery surfaces: you’ll need to be gentle with your steering, accelerating and braking inputs to keep your vehicle on the road – especially if you have driving assists turned off.
Elsewhere, Hillclimb vehicles are rapid but responsive (although the AI seem slow in this discipline), V-Rally Cross vehicles are fun to chuck around and have a better sense of weight compared to DiRT 4, and the buggy discipline sand trucks and buggies can be a pleasure to pilot.
Finally, the Extreme-Khana vehicles feel very eager to turn in which requires a different driving style to get the most from.
The generally gratifying vehicle handling is backed up by decent vehicle audio which improves upon Kylotonn’s WRC 7 from the previous year, although there is still room for improvement if Kylotonn wishes to be genre leading.
Engine and exhaust notes are complemented by environmental effects such as stones pelting your vehicle’s underside and you’ll hear your vehicle’s tones reverberate as you drive close to a wall which adds greatly to the intensity.
V-Rally 4 will take you across the globe as you inch ever close to Grand Champion status across its five disciplines, which will take many hours of play.
Before completing all that the game has to offer you will have negotiated the tight and technical Mount Ranier rallycross track; admired the impossibly thick trees at Sequoia National Park; perfected your donut technique at the Nellis Air Force Base; braced for impact at the consecutive crossover sections at Monument Valley; soaked in the dense Amazon rainforest in Bolivia; raced amongst the stunning Romanian mountains; tackled the very icy and unforgiving Siberia course while weaving through stationed trains; and raced through a small Japanese town through roads which are barely the width of your vehicle. V-Rally 4 throws all this at you, and more.
Although the environments have an impressive amount of detail and are well crafted, the lighting lets the visuals down massively. As a result, the game’s visuals look largely flat giving the game a dated look. Playing on a standard PlayStation 4, I did notice the odd very minor frame drop here and there, but I haven’t come across anything jarring.
Other than the V-Rally mode, V-Rally 4 contains Quick Game which allows you to race at any location in the relevant vehicle class. The multiplayer mode gives players a chance to compete online as well as against a friend in the 2-player split-screen mode.
V-Rally 4’s online action runs smoothly from what I’ve experienced. During rally stages, you’ll see your rivals on the course at the same time only disappearing when you get close to them. Although this system works reasonably well, I’d prefer to toggle the player ghost on and off myself, sadly no option exists. Elsewhere, AI opponents fill in any gaps should you choose to race in the rallycross discipline. Player numbers are fairly low so you may have to exercise some patience should you wish to compete against a full grid of human opponents.
V-Rally 4 is generally a fun game to play thanks to its varied vehicle classes which give you a taste of just about every off-road discipline you can imagine. Vehicles handle well for the most part, although some can feel overly twitchy or suffer from an abundance of understeer. The well-detailed environments are let down by generally poor lighting which sadly gives the visuals a dated look.
The menus too look like they belong in a bygone era, then there’s the single menu audio track which plays ad nauseam. The career mode provides a plethora of disciplines for you to dabble in but feels largely aimless as you’re never aware of how far you’ve progressed. The title also suffers from a lack of circuits, meaning you’ll race on familiar parts of a track across several seemingly different configurations which affect the game’s longevity. All in all, V-Rally 4 is a fun title to pick up and play but ultimately feels like a step backward for Kylotonn who showed great promise with last year’s WRC 7.
- Varied off-road disciplines
- Mostly fun vehicle handling
- Challenging rally stages
- Long loading times
- Messy career mode
- Dated visuals
- Repeated track sections
V-Rally 4 is generally good fun, vehicles handle well for the most part, although some can feel overly twitchy or suffer from under-steer, while environmental visuals look dated. The title also suffers from a lack of variation in the circuits, you’ll race on familiar parts of a track often which affects the game’s longevity. V-Rally 4 is a fun title to pick up and play but ultimately feels like a step backward for Kylotonn.