Gravel is a throwback racing game that has the best elements from the early PlayStation 1 and 2 games with the visuals and new additions of modern titles. It puts a spin on the Travel Channel and introduces the ‘Gravel Channel’ where it hosts an MTV style TV show that is the single player campaign. You play through each episode and compete against the ‘Boss’ characters. So, does the Gravel channel speed off into the sunset, or spin-off at the first corner?
As mentioned before, the structure of the games’ campaign is based on a TV show, and each event is an episode and every episode consist of 3-4 races. Nothing new there then? But Gravel takes almost all types of races and adds a little twist to them. The lap races are all stadium sized, and last only a few minutes, similar with the other races; Time attack and the Head to heads. My favourite by far are the checkpoint races. These are large open stages that you rarely take your finger off the accelerator. Your goal is simple, race through the checkpoints and get first place against 7 other racers. The stages are akin to the Motorstorm series and move just as quickly, which again only last around 2 minutes, but these short bursts of gameplay are what makes it so much fun.
It is perfect for drop in and out gameplay, however even though I played on the digital download version of the game, the load times were a little longer than what I would expect. Thankfully the gameplay is solid, but those looking for a simulation racer are out of luck, this is as arcade-y as it gets. It focuses on fun gameplay, so much so that you can rewind an unlimited amount of times and avoid getting jack-knifed by the CPU.
You earn Show points that will level you up and unlock cars and liveries, from winning races or performing jumps and drifts. Completing the races will give you 3 stars that unlock further episodes. After a few Episodes you have a ‘Special’ where you have to challenge the stage boss in a few events. Each person is introduced with some slightly cheesy FMV vignette. You simply race against them in different mode from races to head-to-head lap battles.
The visuals are good on the regular PS4 and those with a PS4 Pro can expect great detail. The mud and rain effects in particular are amazing. There are 6 options for the driver viewpoint, and yes there is a cockpit angle. The stages are where this game shines the most; from sandy, muddy and even snow, this game has it all.
Gravel is fun, but after a while I found myself losing interest. It is a good racing game, and at first it was really easy and I could smash through it, but after 4 episodes the difficultly starts to spike and I was unable to see why I was slower than the other racers, which became a little off-putting. Racing fans of the DiRT Showdown series will be happy to have this; however, it isn’t quite as fully fledged.
- Replay Value