Game Review: Gravel (PS4)

A simple yet complicated car game…

Typically, I’m the sort of guy who enjoys ramming my competitors into walls and off cliffs when it comes to car games. I enjoy car games which are less complicated than Gran Turismo, more on the level of Need For Speed, Burnout and the like.

My initial concern with Gravel was that it would either be too simple or too complicated for me to get into. By some strange coincidence, Gravel turns out to be too simple to be complicated.

The thing that strikes me with most car games these days is the fact that the developers either expect you to be a gaming god to control the vehicles and grasp the immensely complicated track layouts or be a complete idiot and not know anything at all. There is little in between. Need For Speed did the in-between, and I’m pleased to say, so did Gravel.

Gravel offers you a lot in the way of initial diversity. The game offers enough different modes to keep the car enthusiast happy for a while.

You have the typical ‘Free Races’ where you can do anything, the story mode and online play that measures your skill against other Gravel players from around the world. They even tossed in a ‘Weekly Objective’ sort of deal where you’re offered an optional race to compete in under set conditions. This objective is available to the entire Gravel community and only the best of the best will obtain it. – My own attempts failed rather horribly, but that might be because I suck…

There’s almost always some sort of reward for meeting objectives in races. If you achieve your objective, you unlock a new car, a new track for different game modes and maybe even a new paint job. Often these rewards have limitations on them, which require you to be a certain level before using them or even forcing you to go back to previously played parts of the game to use these new unlocks. For instance, if you had issues on ‘Track 1’ and you’re currently on ‘Track 9’, you often unlock something to use on ‘Track 1’ and have to go back to check it out. It’s either that or wait until you’re presented with the same race type later in the game.

To keep track of all the progress you make in the game, Gravel hits us with ‘Show Points’ and ‘Stars’. Quite simply put, the more you have, the more of the game is available. I found Show Points to be absolutely useless but the Stars actually determine your rank and how much of the game is available for you to play. Each chapter has a set amount of races with objectives like ‘Finish 1st’ which earns you stars. Chapters typically contain a set amount of stars you can earn from them and reach a limit once the event has been played to its conclusion. If the chapter only had a total of 9 stars, that’s all you get no matter how many times you go replay it or better your race times. Once the objective is completed, you’re done.

This system is very unfortunately linked to the selection of cars and tracks available to you as well. If you don’t have enough stars, most of the better cars in the game will be unavailable until you earn enough stars to unlock them. You often enter a race with the limitation of only 1 or 2 different cars to choose from and you can’t do much in the way of customization or tweaking either – but more on that a little later.

Gravel is easy to play despite it offering very realistic vehicle reaction, elements and weather conditions that all affect the way your car performs and handles. If you’re a professional at car games, you can enjoy mastering everything from your gear shift to your alignment settings. If you’re a beginner, pop over to the options where you can change everything to fully automatic, including braking around corners and traction control. Overall, it’s a nice low end and a great high end. You can eliminate the difference between people who prefer over complicated vehicles and control schemes and people who just want to pick up and play and that’s quite cool I think.

The Verdict…

Overall Gravel is a very detailed game with a wide array of race types, track types, and car types on offer. Its steep learning curve is eliminated by options for new players to quickly get into the game and it’s all rather fun if you don’t dig in too deep. Often races are more annoying than fun and you’re doomed to repeat the same track over and over for the sake of unlocking that final star you need to progress in the game.

The biggest drawback for me in Gravel is the fact that you cannot customize your cars. Everything is pre-set. You’ll select ‘Vehicle 2’ and ‘Vehicle 2’ has like 5 paint jobs you can choose from…and that’s about that. The finer details I like to mess about with like the paint job, decals, engine, turbo, wheels etc, are all unavailable for you to mess with and for me personally, that’s a large deal breaker. I want to customize my car to the point that it looks like something out of Tokyo Drift and then take the little bastard cross country. I couldn’t do this in Gravel and that sucked some of the life out of it right from the start. I mean, yes, you can set complicated things like wheel alignment and suspension, but where’s my god damn spoiler customization at?

Unless you’re a complete car nut that enjoys everything from circuit racing to cross country and driving around aimlessly in the mud, Gravel offers little in the way of replay value and to be rather blunt, it felt more like a chore than a game the entire time I was playing it.

With so many better car games around on the market, Gravel really only has it’s simple ‘pick up and play’ arcade angle to grip you with and not much else.

You’ll finish the story within a few days, get bored with endlessly replaying older tracks and unless you keep things repeatedly fresh by playing online, I just don’t see much going on in Gravel. I see what they tried to do with it, but, according to me, it’s a little lacking as a car game.

Grand Moff Morris
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Grand Moff Morris

You know, this was supposed to be my day off. But nooooooo. Instead, you got me out here dragging your heavy ass through the burning desert, with your dreadlocks sticking out the back of my parachute.
Grand Moff Morris
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3.0 /10


7.0 /10

Look & Feel

8.0 /10

Enjoyment Factor

5.0 /10

Replay Value

3.0 /10


  • Easy to pick up and play...
  • Remains challenging despite it being simple...
  • Superb graphics and scenery...


  • Limited car selection...
  • No customization...
  • Gets old pretty quickly...
  • No split-screen multiplayer...

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