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Gaming: TG reviews Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo

Rallying's greatest of all time gets his own game, but can it match the man himself?

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The first time you play Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo it’s guaranteed to be awful. The car will understeer like a snowplough, you’ll be forced to creep around tight turns at walking pace and you’ll find yourself gliding off the road at embarrassingly low speed in exactly the same way as Robert Kubica did last weekend at the Monte.

Persevere, though, and a little switch will flick in the same part of your brain that keeps you upright on a bicycle and you’ll learn to hustle the car around its inherent understeer. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo’s handling remains nowhere near as satisfying or convincing as Dirt Rally’s superlative scrambling, but at least you’ll be able to enjoy what the game does get right.

That would be the rally stages themselves. Each is based on a substantial chunk of actual competitive mileage and Seb Loeb Rally’s party trick is making them exactly as narrow and demanding as they are in real life. There’s none of WRC 5’s generously broadened roads here; you’ll be subconsciously tucking in your elbows as you hurtle through a tunnel of trees that’s barely as wide as your wing mirrors.

The central Loeb Experience portion of the game is half documentary, half career mode and gives you a comprehensive tour of what the game has to offer. Each chapter begins with footage of the man himself talking through a particular era in his career but, unless you’re a Seb super-fan, you’re better off skipping the dry chat and slow-zoomed photographs and experiencing it for yourself from behind the wheel. Joypad? Whatever.

There’s certainly plenty to keep you busy. 180-odd miles of stages that you’re unlikely to ever memorise and a healthy selection of iconic machinery, both historic and modern, to drive. Even if the majority of them handle like they’re dragging a boat anchor around with them. There’s rallycross in there too, featuring a handful of real circuits but without any proper 600bhp RX Supercars to chuck around it feels a mite undercooked.

That’s Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo all over, though. The core ingredients are absolutely right and the game doesn’t suffer as much from the absence of an official WRC licence as we expected, but it lacks the flair and excitement of Dirt Rally, which is due to arrive on consoles in April. One for dedicated rallyists or admirers of insouciant Frenchmen only…

Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is out on PC, PS4 and Xbox One today.

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