Milestone has a long and storied history with motorsports. For the past two decades, they’ve spent a long time developing racing games for everything from the MotoGP to the World Rally Championship. With five games based on the World Rally Championship under their belt, it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about rallying.
Their latest take on rallying is Sebastian Loebe Rally EVO, which breaks off from their previous work on the World Rally Championship series, and it finally made the jump to consoles earlier this month.
Throughout Sebastian Loebe EVO, you’ll find yourself tasked with completing a number of races. It’s about what you’d expect from a Rally game, with a variety of different environments to race through. You’ll find yourself racing around mountains through dirt, snow and gravel and tuning your car accordingly.
I’m not particularly well-versed on rallying, and I’m equally as spotty when it comes to driving. Because of the nature of sport, rally tracks can be quite difficult. In most games, you’ll spend a lot of time racing on asphalt. Sebastian Loebe EVO is a bit different, however, thanks to the courses you drive on. This game isn’t full of tracks, though there are a few.
It’s about beating the environment, and at times that can be a bit difficult if you’re not used to rallying. Whereas most tracks have a few turns every now and then, Sebastian Loebe EVO will pit you against a number of difficult turns. Your driver is there to help with that by calling out the upcoming turns and hazards, but it will take some getting used to if you’re new to the sport.
The game does have a series of tutorials, as well as an option to lower the difficulty and change some settings to make it easier on you, but it seemed to me as if the tutorials were sparse and not very helpful. Thankfully, chances are that most of the people picking up the game will be into the sport anyway.
Sebasian Loebe EVO has a number of game modes that are likely to keep the most dedicated rally fan busy for quite some time. In career mode, you drive your way to the number one spot in the world while working your way up to joining Sebastian Loebe’s team by completing Loebe events. It’s here where you’ll probably spend the bulk of your time winning races to earn credits for new vehicles.
Career mode is divided between a number of different race types. There’s single stage, elimination, rallycross race, sector battle, rally championships, and a whole lot more. I didn’t try much of the game online thanks to awful wait times between lobbies and a limited number of lobbies in addition, so I can’t say whether or not those modes can be played online.
What I can say, however, is that the game does not have offline multiplayer, which is kind of a bummer. One of the best things about racing games is seeing if you or your friends will come out on top, but couch multiplayer is a dying thing nowadays, and it seems like Sebastian Loebe EVO decided to sit this one out.
There’s plenty to do outside of multiplayer, though. If you don’t feel like playing career mode, you can also check out the Sebastian Loebe experience, which allows you to play through Loebe’s career as a rally driver from 1998 up to 2013. It also serves as a documentary of sorts, which is kind of neat. You don’t even need to complete the segments to unlock the rest of the videos, which I thought was pretty cool.
The only problem with Sebastian Loebe experience is that the videos in between career segments can be pretty long. I didn’t find that to be a big deal since I was interested in the documentary experience anyway, but I would have liked to see the clips cut up and displayed in between events rather than shown in blocks. It just would have made more sense from a narrative perspective, because the Sebastian Loebe experience is broken down by career years and includes multiple races, but each video discusses the whole category in one go. For example, 1998-2000.
In the grand scheme of things, that’s only a minor complaint. The rest of the game functions very well, and while emulating Loebe’s success seems to be more difficult than working your way through career mode, it proves to be rewarding in the end. Every chapter of Loebe’s career that you complete grants you access to a new car, and you don’t have to buy it after unlocking it, which is cool. If I had known that before starting career mode, I would have completed that part of the game first.
Compared to previous rally games that Milestone has worked on, Sebastian Loebe Rally EVO does a much better job of presenting everything from the menus to the mechanics. The HUD looks much smoother than it did in WRC, and contains a number of improvements. Much of the design is the same, but it just looks so much better visually, and that goes for other aspects of the game too.
The tracks, for example, look great. As do the cars. I wouldn’t say that it’s bordering on full-out realistic, but again, much improved over the previous games that Milestone has worked on. It feels like Milestone put a lot more thought and effort into this game, perhaps thanks to being free of the WRC license.
The only problem that I had with the presentation was an issue when I was downloading the game. Sebastian Loebe Rally EVO was supposed to be done installing, but once I finished the tutorial I arrived at the main menu with majority of the options grayed out. That was because the game was still downloading, even though it had allegedly finished.
Some games have a way to let you know this, but not Sebastian Loebe Rally EVO. I had to go on an internet search to find out what was wrong with the game. I thought I hadn’t finished the tutorial, but that wasn’t the problem. I found that to be frustrating, but it shouldn’t be a problem unless you pick up the game digitally. If you’re buying the game on disc, you probably won’t run into that issue.
Sebastian Loebe Rally EVO makes a number of solid improvements over previous rally games that Milestone has worked on. The gameplay, graphics, and presentation are much better this time around. It might not be the best game out there, but it does a good enough job to make it worth recommending to rally fans. If nothing else, there’s plenty of content to keep them busy.