September 16, 2021

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V-Rally 4 review – a 90s throwback that’s too clumsy for its own good

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How long has it been since the last unabashed, bluntly straightforward and no frills arcade racer? So much time has passed it may as well have been 2002’s V-Rally 3, the last instalment of a series that’s getting an unlikely revival in this, the latest outing from Parisian racing specialists Kylotonn. V-Rally 4 is a nostalgia trip of a game – not least for some of its development team who worked on the original games – and one that harks back to a bygone, if not necessarily better, era.

And it’s all a bit of a shock at first. V-Rally 4’s cars are nervy little things, hopping about in your hands like Mexican jumping beans as they throw around their meagre weight. That skittishness, it turns out – and if you can remember as far back as the original V-Rally games I’m sure you don’t need reminding – was always part of the original DNA, and it’s preserved here, for better and for worse. There’s a period of readjustment you’ll have to endure, through which V-Rally 4 can feel every bit as challenging as more hardcore simulations such as Dirt Rally.

See through that – and it is worth it, just – and you’ve got a knowingly lightweight handling model that lets you dance these things around (and counterintuitive it might be if you’re a veteran of the genre, but V-Rally 4 does seem to function a whole lot better when you’re playing via one of the third-person chase cams, where it’s all a bit more explicit that you’re not supposed to take this thing too seriously). There’s a generous enough window to operate in, when you find it, meaning that you shouldn’t bemoan the lack of a rewind feature too heavily even on the longer stages.

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