Dakar Desert Rally is the latest open-world, off-road racing game from Saber Interactive and Saber Porto. The game is based on the intense competitive thrill of the largest rally race on the planet, the Dakar Rally. You’ll be racing on over 20,000 square kilometers of diverse terrain and dynamic weather. Just because there’s a storm on top of you, doesn’t mean the race stops. Choose from some of the sport’s most renowned racing teams, or create your own and build up your garage with a long line of cars, bikes, trucks, quads and SSVs from the world’s top manufacturers. With three difficulty modes to choose from, Dakar Desert Rally will challenge novices and pro players alike.
This is not your typical racing game. Dakar Desert Rally may seem like a fast-paced game, which it is, but it should not be confused with your typical arcade racing game. This game is built to feel like a sim with realistic physics and driving experience, and even in the most casual setting (Sport Mode), it’s not really meant for uber-casual players. The game can be very unforgiving, but that’s because it wants you to learn how to drive properly and wants to show the difficulties real drivers face in the actual Dakar Rally. I also think the game wants to teach you how to tune your vehicles and settings because in racing, each driver is different.
However, since the game itself is very customizable when it comes to the controls, you can choose to play this with either keyboard and mouse, controller, or with a steering wheel and pedals. I currently don’t have my steering wheel and pedal set up and I find it awkward playing driving games with a keyboard and mouse. So I used a controller for this. You’ll find that the default controls are a bit too sensitive though which makes the driving experience very difficult. I highly suggest adjusting the sensitivity, the dead zone areas, linearity, and more if needed. This will all be based on trial and error, but I found that steering becomes easier when you drop down the sensitivity and linearity.
Anyways, once you got that dialed in, the driving experience should be a lot more enjoyable, but racing will still be a challenge.
In terms of gameplay, there are over 30 stages you can race on, and each is fairly difficult. This isn’t street racing. It is very hard to drive on uneven terrain, sand, hills, water hazards, etc. It’s all there. You basically have to adapt to all of the terrain changes. Not only that, but there are also random weather phenomena that occur, like storms that can obscure your vision of the course. Dakar Desert Rally is probably one of the most realistic virtual representations of this grueling race as you can get.
I should also mention that vehicles in the game take on real damage that carry over into each race. You’ll have to manage repairs based on how much money you have and whether you can hold off any repairs or not as a broken car will affect your race. I love racing games with vehicle damage and this one really goes in on it, even on the easiest difficulty setting.
On the subject of vehicles, there are a ton to choose from and each look amazing in the game. They’re all fully destructible too which is a huge plus in my book.
Graphically, Dakar Desert Rally is one of the best-looking racing games I’ve seen. But then again, I’m playing this on PC and the game looks absolutely stunning with the graphic sliders turned all the way up. The environments are a sight to behold and all the vehicles leave their mark on them. You see realistic tire tracks, dirt being kicked up, water splashing, etc. The vehicles themselves even get dirty as you race. It truly is a beautiful-looking game.
On the audio side of things, there’s a killer soundtrack that really adds excitement to the races, though you may want to turn it down a little if you need to concentrate.
Dakar Desert Rally is a great racing game that’s something different from the norm. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea and the difficulty might turn off some players, but it’s a deep and rewarding game if you stick with it. I’m a big fan of realism, which includes licensed vehicles, accurate environments, crash damage, and the way you have to manage your team. I also love that there are difficulty settings for different levels of players. If you’re a hardcore player, you’ll want to try out Professional and Simulation modes which are as realistic and hardcore as you can get.
Overall, Dakar Desert Rally is a fantastic game and one that would be a great addition to any racing fan’s library. You can pick it up on Steam, or purchase it in physical form for PlayStation and Xbox.
Disclaimer: Received game from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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