Before the glamorous catwalks of the Formula 1 circus and the irreverence of MotoGP, before the big sponsors, TV rights and asphyxiating regulations, motorsport was an incredible world. Among all the disciplines, however, there was one that made speed, danger and madness its distinctive features: the Rally. Hard to glam up a discipline based on shooting cars at senseless speeds on dirt, gravel and snow trails, after all. The rally, however, had a charm all its own, it was the purest form of sports motoring. Who was behind the wheel was a superman who challenged fate every day, driven by the need to go faster and faster, beyond the limits of his body and instinct. Art of Rally, Funselektor's latest work, it is perhaps the greatest celebration of that era that has ever been seen in the gaming world. And I needed it.
Poetry in motion
I don't know if you've ever talked to a rally enthusiast. At some point, anyone - especially those who were there in those years - will tell you that seeing Ari Vatanen, Walter Röhrl or Henri Toivonen driving was equivalent to seeing poetry in motion. Fast, reckless and scornful of fear, people used to going at 200 km / h on small mountain roads with the same ease with which I accompany my grandmother to go shopping at Esselunga.
Art of Rally starts from here, from the love of those who were there for that historical period of motorsport, and traces its history, treading on the emotional and passionate aspect of the rally. He does it with a frightening confidence in his own means and with an attention to detail and an artistic direction that take your breath away. The sense of Art of Rally is contained in the short monologue of Buddha (a moment of pure psychotropic madness) with which the game opens:
Doing something dangerous with style is Art
At first glance, Art of Rally may seem like an unassuming arcade driving game. Know this, there is nothing more wrong. Art of Rally focuses very strongly on its artistic direction but the substance is not lackingindeed, on balance the driving experience is astounding. The physics is perfectly credible and the simulation aspect is central and studied in detail. In fact, the driving feeling changes according to the power of the engine, the traction of the car and also the length of its stride. Don't expect to jump into a Lancia Delta S4 and a Ford Escort MK2 without feeling any difference, in short. The car counts, as do the ground you run on and the weather.
Art of Rally is a declaration of love for the whole discipline
What surprised me was Funselektor's approach to the world of rallying. Casu dunes after all, he is the creator and director of Absolute Drift, one of the most atypical and singular driving games of this generation, so it was more than reasonable to expect a title that tried to go beyond the traditional video game. Art of Rally celebrates the history of rallying and does it with boundless love. A love so great as to subvert the history of the discipline, so much so that in the world of Art of Rally the cars of the legendary Group B have not been banned and the cars of the never born Group S compete regularly. In a sense, Art of Rally is set within the dreams of every enthusiast, and the aesthetics that characterize it amplify this dream dimension exponentially.
Yet, despite being the celebration of the memory of the golden age of drifting, Art of Rally demonstrates an at times impressive knowledge of the subject. For example, at startup we are asked to set our country of origin and our blood type. A curious request, perhaps, but those who chew discipline will know very well that on the cars, next to the name of driver and co-driver, their blood type was reported so that, in the event of an accident, rescuers could prepare themselves in the best way possible transfusion.
A love told by the obsessive attention to small details
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Small things, certainly, but which demonstrate a truly great attention to detail. The same goes for the cars, artfully recreated with very few polygons and perfectly recognizable despite not being officially licensed. Another little gem: The Lancia Delta S4 was famous for being a nightmare to drive. When it was converted to four-wheel drive, in fact, it adopted a particular behavior when cornering. It was subject to heavy understeer on entry, but as soon as the differential dumped power to the rear wheels that understeer suddenly turned into oversteer. The Gorilla S4 from Art of Rally mimics its cornering behavior with incredible fidelity, and mastering it takes more than one attempt to achieve perfection. This shows a truly enviable knowledge on the subject.
Art of Rally is a joy for the eyes and a cure-all for the mind
Reducing Art of Rally to a simple driving game would be a huge mistake. Art of Rally immediately stops the role of the video game to turn into a playful experience. The almost dreamlike atmosphere of the stages, the spectacular lighting and the electronic soundtrack contribute to making Art of Rally a meditative and relaxing experience that has no equal in the videogame panorama.. If already Absolute Drift transformed the streets into Zen gardens to be filled with the traces left by the tires, Art of Rally takes this introspective and meditative aspect to levels never touched before.
Funselektor's work was born as a celebration of the great years of rallying, but at the same time he tried to distance himself from the racing frenzy of that period and put aside the competitive aspect. In an environment where Dirt Rally focuses on being constantly over the top, WRC try to be suitable for everyone and V-Rally proposes a distinctly arcade feeling, Art of Rally is proudly intimate, laid back and relaxing. This makes it unique. It is necessary.
Art of Rally is a video game where, more than ever, it is not the finish line but the journey that counts. The opponents are invisible, simple names flanked by the times scored in the race. They must be beaten, of course, but the focus of the experience lies in traversing the wonderful scenarios and being completely absorbed by the guide. It is no coincidence that the career mode is not a generic form of self-celebration of us as drivers, but rather an interactive timeline that crosses all the salient phases of the Rally from the 60s to the 90s. The prize for the victory, in fact, are new cars with which to face the timed tests. In case we were good enough not to run out of retries, we will also be assigned new liveries to show off on the track and to be immortalized in the wonderful photo mode, absolutely unexpected but very welcome and well cared for.
Art of Rally is the art of meditating drifting at 200 km / h
The career mode is accompanied by a free driving mode for the scenarios of the game. Don't consider it a secondary mode. It's the perfect excuse to get in the car and drive and get lost in the vastness of the game world without thinking about their own performances. We must not prevail over anyone and we can freely abandon ourselves to ourselves. It is the perfect catalyst for that form of meditation that only Art of Rally is capable of generating. I have found myself several times with my mind completely empty, absorbed in my thoughts and absorbed by the guide. Between a heel-toe and a drift on the hairpin bends of Japan I let myself go to whatever thought went through my head, while remaining focused on driving.
All of this is not only central to the Art of Rally experience, but it is also what makes it one of a kind. A breath of fresh air capable of bringing out the best of two aspects - meditative and professional - that coexist in the mind of any motorsport driver. It almost seems that Dune Casu has tried to unveil the mechanisms behind being a pilot, above all of a hallucinating discipline like Rally, making within everyone's reach a mindset typical of those aliens who do not bat an eye while climbing the Col de Turini at 180 km / h. And, let me tell you, it works wonderfully.
The triple nature of Art of Rally
In addition to the artistic direction and minimalism in the forms, Art of Rally stands out for its unusual visual. Having abandoned the classic chase cam typical of driving games, the Funselektor guys have opted for a different view. The camera, in fact, is still positioned behind the vehicle but in a more elevated position. This reveals the triple role we are called to play in Art of Rally. We are in fact at the same time driver, navigator and spectator of each stage. We are behind the wheel, but at the same time we are asked to observe the road, replacing our eye with the notes of our co-driver, and we are asked to observe the beauty of the stages and, at the same time, the history of the rally that unfolds in front of us. .
The high camera contributes to immersion in the game world. Not being disturbed by the navigator's voice, you are obliged to keep your eyes on the road to anticipate curves, jumps and changes in the background. I noticed an interesting thing, after hours of gameplay: the more focused you are, the more you tend to keep your gaze fixed on the horizon. In this way you become one with the car that you no longer have to look at it. Just like rally drivers who set curves with the next in mind. Because if it is true that rallying is an art form, it is because it is a perfect combination of pure driving instinct and anticipation of what is to come.
I really struggle to find fault with Art of Rally, especially in light of the fact that they are perfectly solvable post launch. So yes, it is true that perhaps the rallies available are actually few (although there are still about sixty stages), but I expect that over time they will be fleshed out. It would be really wonderful to have historical events such as the rally of Corsica, Greece, Monte Carlo or the wonderful Safari.
What is perhaps the most annoying issue in the game is the auto recovery feature of the car. Just move away from the roadway a little and the game resets the position of the car. Although he understands that the mechanics are designed to prevent crafty tricks from cutting entire sections of the track to take advantage and distort the results, its invasiveness is exaggerated. The problem, more than anything else, is that it is both too punitive and too generous. On the one hand, in fact, it denies the possibility of remedying mistakes with the right amount of “creativity”, forcing us to restart from a standstill and in the middle of the track. On the other hand, however, the car is reset before the effects of its mistakes are actually noticeable. No spectacular accidents, therefore, because you are recovered well before making the omelette.
There was a dire need for Art of Rally
I needed it, first of all. I needed it because I was born in a historical period in which the rally is the shadow of itself, hungry for visibility and popularity as never before. Despite everything I grew up listening to the stories of fans, watching old VHS and documentaries, and I always felt the need for a game that made me live it this way. Ever since I used up the PS1 pad playing Colin McRae Rally 2.
Although DiRT Rally is an overall more complete game it never gave me the heat and that Art of Rally gave me. I had never seen a declaration of love on four wheels like the one in Art of Rally, which in this one rivals only Gran Turismo, and, let alone, I have never dedicated myself as much to myself with a driving game as I did with Art of Rally.
So ultimately yes, Art of Rally is a small masterpiece, one of these games that risk being locked in a niche but that really deserve to be discovered and loved. Absolutely one of the best experiences of recent years, dedicated to enthusiasts but also open to the layman.
Like me, who fell in love one drift at a time.Verdict 9.5 / 10 Doing something dangerous with style is art Commentary Art of Rally is a masterpiece. The perfect synthesis of the madness of the rally and its more intimate and reflective meditative aspect, underlined by a jaw-splitting artistic direction. A journey into the history of the discipline in which we are pilots, navigators and spectators at the same time invited to witness the story unfolding in front of our eyes. Art of Rally is not a trivial arcade game, but it contains completely unexpected simulation elements, as well as an attention to detail that warms the hearts of all fans. Never had it happened to me to be absorbed so completely by a driving video game, much less by a game dedicated to the craziest, crudest and dirtiest of disciplines. A declaration of love for off-road transoms, a celebration of the art of driving and the love of those who were there and that still today remembers that era as one of the most incredible moments of all motorsport. Pros and cons ✓ Impressive artistic direction
✓ Lots of attention to detail
✓ Very large car park x Five rallies are a bit 'few
x Automatic recovery of the invasive self