Not quite as good as it thinks it
This was initially announced as being a 50-hour game, with sprawling, openworld tracks through which you could choose your route to the goal. A tech demo showed full, realistic destruction physics as rocks were thrown at a car, snapping carbon fibre and denting metal. How strange, then, that the final game delivers a fraction of that initial potential. Dang.
Fundamentally, Gravel is a competent game in every area. It looks nice, handles well, and has licensed vehicles, a few cool drum fills in the heavy metal menu music, and neat weather and day/night effects. There are fictional stadia and real rallycross layouts, as well as channelled point-to-point races across the Namibian desert and through Alaskan forests. It even has moments of real beauty.
Even so, everything feels slightly low-rent. The cars look like they’re made of plastic, and low-detail elements like flat headlight textures stand out a mile. That preview demo showed full car damage with bits that could fall off your car; here the cars’ bodywork just sort of distorts a bit if you crash too hard. Sparks look nice in collisions, but without proper debris the races feel frustratingly neutered.
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