Review of the Dakar Rally desert game
Science and Technology

Review of the Dakar Rally desert game

The Dakar Desert Rally is the result of three years of conception by the Saber Interactive studio, the culmination of the license car that has been searching for itself for many years. For this comeback, the developers have done their best, and this new iteration is probably one of the nicest surprises of the new school year for mechanics fans!

Giant map, several game modes, vehicles of different types, official link with France Télévisions… The ambition behind the Dakar Desert Rally is clear from the tutorial! Like the game Forza Horizon 5, the protectors of Saber Interactive take the player on a crazy desert journey (but no less amazing with its oases, rocky lands and eye-catching sand) where she drives, glides on a motorbike and jumps amazingly. Quad. From the first minutes, the tune is set and we’re quickly guessing that the new game from Saber Interactive has some under the hood!

Less intense racing game

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?

With the helicopter show, the game takes motocross atmosphere frenzy at times. just awesome!

Without being a bad guy, the Dakar 18 showed very few qualities to win on the rally circuit. Even if the discipline is far from making the headlines in video game news, the title aligns a lot of flaws, both visual and fun, to make an impression. Realizing the original version’s shortcomings, the Saber Porto team revised its entirety, taking care to adapt it to experts and novice audiences alike. After South America, the franchise is packing its bags in Saudi Arabia for more than thirty official stages! Enough to rediscover the sensations of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 editions of Discipline!

In its previous version, the Dakar struggled to impress, due to the fault of outdated graphics and a bit of sloppy gameplay. Above all, he chose to be particularly elitist, leaving many players on the sidelines. This is not the case with the Dakar Desert Rally. Pour cette édition, les développeurs ont intégré un mode Sport qui permet aux pilotes novices de se concentrer sur la route et les concurrents, sans avoir à se préoccuper du roadbook, le fameux système de navigation permettant de se repénurerne de dan The Road. In short, get a true arcade approach and simplified navigation! Thanks to the addition of this mode, beginners can enjoy the Dakar Desert Rally and enjoy the fun of racing and grandiose panoramas. Cars, motorcycles, quads, trucks, SSVs… The sensations are there and this supposed choice of Saber opens up the discipline to as many people as possible.

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games? Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?

Exciting experience for the fans

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?

The game is officially licensed.

But let the purists rest assured: the Dakar Desert Rally offers a Pro mode (plus an unlockable level 25 simulator) based on the same realism as the Dakar 18. In short, we find everything that makes a rally raid magic where mastering the roadbook is essential to finding your way around and finding the different waypoints (crossing points). By giving a lot of geographical scope to their game, the developers have imagined scenes of incredible intensity and it doesn’t take much to get lost! It is then necessary to determine the distance traveled, the direction to go, possible obstacles and their seriousness, etc. On a motorcycle or quad, it’s even worse because there is no co-pilot to warn you! Needless to say, you won’t become a rally raid specialist in a few minutes. It takes training, analyzing the risks described in the manual and adapting to the co-pilot’s words, which sometimes completely mislead you! “Straight on the tracks” When a bend looms, it’s not easy to understand when you’re just starting out!

The developers have worked on different vehicle reactions and altitudes like never before, so it’s not uncommon to be surprised by poor steering. Everything has been done to make you believe it, and it’s no exaggeration to say that there is a bit of a Forza Horizon in this Dakar desert rally, and even the new generation of Sega Rally in distorting the terrain (although that doesn’t affect the stickiness). The three years of development were not too long for the experience to be as exhilarating as possible, and through self-sacrifice, but also focus, we gain experience points, DP (Dakar Points) and first places on the podium. This accumulated experience allows you to enhance and repair your vehicle between each stage and, above all, expand your garage with cars faster than ever before. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that the Dakar Desert Rally, despite the sporty mode, remains a rather difficult title, both in driving (even if it is more fluid than before) and in collisions. Collisions really punished! Suffice it to say that you have to adjust your speed and constantly monitor the navigation elements. And to get to the end, all the advantages of the Dakar Desert Rally make the game really addictive!

A truck is a very fun way to start because it has less speed and power.

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games? Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?

Unfortunately, there are several things that annoyed us. The first, which undoubtedly immediately jumps to the eye, is the presence of inappropriate deceleration. The latter is well observed during thunderstorms and other storms, when particles illuminate the screen. Another concern comes from an AI with ‘railroad’ syndrome that doesn’t see your vehicle at all. If this gives the impression that you are somewhat interactive and realistic, then no race will happen – or almost – without one of the runners doing anything, to the point of trying to make a round trip in the middle of a turn! When you get to the front, and you know the game is so punishing, there’s enough to send the console flying across the room. Finally, not everyone will be satisfied with the experience, a directional error that is sometimes too sensitive, sometimes too heavy. The discovery is more exciting for motorcycles and quads. Obviously, over time, we got used to it, but we can’t help but regret the sometimes random reactions of our cars.

It’s the beautiful Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?

Visually, the Saber title is a hybrid between Forza Horizon and SEGA Rally (2008). A true marvel!

Sand dunes as far as the eye can see, turquoise waters, majestic mountains… Saudi Arabia, reproduced on a 1: 5 scale, is a country of great diversity. It’s simple, the Dakar Desert Rally is one of the most generous track racing games out there. We are talking about 430 thousand square kilometers, an area larger than Germany, Japan, Paraguay or even the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Obviously, with this map, the scenery looks huge! To give even more majesty to their offspring, Saber developers have incorporated a day/night cycle, but also real-time weather changes. In rainy weather, in a snowstorm or under the scorching sun, the game offers a very impressive visual! When immersed in a gust of wind in the middle of a storm or sandstorm, the effect is amazing!
More than enough to try out 150 vehicles in the game, both online and solo! The music, very cinematic, is also somewhat enjoyable. In terms of visual and audio productions, it sure is: Saber has done a crazy job!

The climatic conditions are wonderfully presented.

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games? Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?

It remains a question that bothers more than one. As in, can we talk about an open world? No, for the simple good reason that we move from one stage to another and there is no mode that allows you to move freely on the map. Moreover, the modes are still very light as there is only a career mode and a free online mode. But beware, free simply means that you can customize your games. For now, while waiting for the possible extensions to arrive, it will be necessary above all to be satisfied with the career mode and hopefully there will be many players online. In any case, for anyone interested in discipline and wanting a game worthy of the name, the Dakar Desert Rally is by far the best. Not everything is perfect (artificial intelligence, few game modes, no local multiplayer…), but the gap that separates this game from Dakar 18 is widening. And if you can, try the simulation mode (speed limits, pro navigation, etc.), it’s worth the detour!

Sports mode (arcade) or professional mode/simulation, there is something for everyone!

Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games? Dakar Desert Rally: Forza's horizon for rally video games?


strength point

  • The map is as huge as it is sublime
  • Various scenery (sand dunes, beaches, mountains, etc.)
  • Excellent feel – including behind the wheel
  • Best licensed Dakar game
  • Day/night cycle, changing weather
  • Numerous views (including a great view from a helicopter)
  • Sports mode for beginners
  • Official License (Drivers, Vehicles, Logos…)

Weak points

  • Fairly uniform deceleration in solution mode
  • It is not an open world in the sense of “complete freedom”
  • Motorcycle can be real soap
  • Not enough game modes
  • AI often gets better
  • No local multiplayer
  • The co-pilot is far from reliable all the time

Despite its lack of content, exemplary driving and unseasoned opponents, the Dakar Desert Rally dusts off the automotive genre in style. Based on the opulent landscapes of Saudi Arabia, Saber Interactive displays an impressive feat and should delight those who are looking for a different racing game. If the developers retain the requirements for the Dakar 18 (with co-pilot, compass, road book, etc.), it is now possible to try out the Sport mode and its lane-keeping approach. Thanks to these additions, the Dakar Desert Rally opens up to a wider audience without breaking with the fundamentalists. With its impressive pace of success, lavish reviews and effects and its massive map, there’s plenty to enjoy while waiting for potential extensions. Be sure to surprise cars this fall!


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