With news of a new Sega Sonic racer, Mario Kart coming to mobile, Burnout Paradise getting remastered and the release of arcadey off-road racing revival effort Gravel, it’s pedal to the metal right now.
New arcade racers are rarities these days, particularly those with a focus on off-road.
It is a genre which others have tried to reignite without much success before but rest assured there’s some fun to be had here.
One big plus point from the off is the inclusion of a plethora of licensed cars and great track settings.
In fact the scenery, which is set across the globe, is probably the crowning achievement of Gravel and there in lies the problem but more on that in a moment.
Let’s focus on the positives and there are many, including a good level of AI to race against, the over-the-top physics courtesy of Gravel’s use of the Unreal Engine for the first time (although this won’t be for everyone you do have to remember it is an ARCADE racer even if it looks more like a sim).
There is a nice blend between stadium and circuit racing too.
But as I mentioned, while graphics and scenery are important, they should not be the USP of an arcade racer. Heart pounding, thrill-a-minute action should be.
And in that respect Gravel falls a little bit flat on its face in the.... gravel?
There are not too many race types to enjoy and handling doesn’t really change throughout or depending on your vehicle, at least it felt that way for me.
Everything just feels a bit dull which is frustrating because the foundations are there for a top, top racer.
I think the key here is expectations. Gravel is a decent racer, but it masks a lack of true racing excitement with pretty locations and graphics off the track.
I’ve seen Gravel referred to as ‘boring’ in other reviews which for me is too harsh because it’s hard not to have fun.
Milestone are definitely on to something here and while far from perfect, Gravel should give them hope that they can eventually hit the dizzy heights with a few additions and tweaks if they do decide to make a sequel.