Those who were gaming in the 1990's might recognize the V-Rally name. It was a highly popular auto racing series from 1997 through 2002 but hasn't been seen since. At least, not until recent when developer Kylotonn released V-Rally 4 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Taking car racing outside of the traditional oval, V-Rally 4 features five different racing disciplines in its career mode: Rally, V-Rally Cross, Hillclimb, Buggy, and Extreme Khana. You can't, however, just hop into whatever race type you like best right out of the gate. Rather, players can only enter rally events with the car they get in the game's tutorial. To get access to the other disciplines, you'll need to earn enough in-game currency to purchase the appropriate vehicle. It's not as simple as it sounds, though, as the money you earn also has to go towards paying staff and recruiting better employees for your race team.
Staff management is extremely important in V-Rally 4 as you'll want to ensure that you have the best engineers and mechanics to keep your vehicles not only on the cutting edge, but also is good working order. While it's a responsibility that Kylotonn puts a little too much of an emphasis on, maintaining a good race staff shouldn't be too much of a challenge unless you're really bad with budgeting and research. As for the money, it comes in chunks both as race winnings and in lump sums if you complete certain contract challenges. As long as you're at least halfway decent, you shouldn't have to worry about bankrupting your race team.
Individual race events are scored based on difficulty and skill. One-star events can be completed with any qualified stock-issued vehicle. Higher-starred events will require better performing vehicles and a certain level of skill from the player. What seems to be at issue, however, is there doesn't seem to be too much uniformity as to what constitutes a two- or three-star difficulty. You can use a suitable vehicle on one two-star race and absolutely dominate, then use that same vehicle in a similar two-star event and get absolutely owned. As you race, the game provides you with race notes to keep you abreast on what's coming up next on the track, but those are only so helpful and sometimes seem to come a second or two too late. In the end, the trick seems to be ensuring your vehicles are as advanced and powered-up as possible across the board to have any sort of consistent success from event to event. To do that, of course, you'll need a lot of cash. Crossing your fingers before each event helps, too.
The end goal in this arcade racer is to win the championship in each of the five disciplines. It's an effort that will be very time consuming and can be a bit tedious as you get to the higher-end events. As you get more and more accustomed to your vehicles and the tracks, however, some things begin to feel as second nature and you'll find yourself just jelling through some of the events. And, really, that's how it should be once you put enough time and effort into any sort of activity.
Outside of career mode, players have the option for quick single races and for online multiplayer. Both are pretty much what you'd expect, though there didn't seem to be as many players online as we were hoping to find.
When it comes to presentation, V-Rally 4 holds its own well enough. It doesn't provide for the same caliber experience that you might find in bigger-name racing games like Forza or F1, but players probably won't be complaining. One thing that really helps V-Rally 4's overall presentation is the variety of environments in which you'll be racing. Players are treated to places from around the world including organic-seeming mountain trails and colorful fields complete with dynamic lighting and beautiful backdrops that more than make up for being second fiddle to those bigger-name games.
V-Rally 4 is a good rebirth of the once-popular V-Rally series. While the series' brand power has hit the breaks in the 16 years since the previous installment, Kylotonn did an overall good job with this one. It's not the most robust or amazing rally game ever, but it's enjoyable and provides a nice (if inconsistent) challenge.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.