Disclaimer: This is a review about a video game. If you aren’t into video games or don’t care about them, no problem. My article about the Mid Night Club and Japan’s hidden car culture surrounding it is here. It’s a bit of a long read but not a bad one. This article, maybe not so much.
Revhead. It is an Australian term for a car nut, a similar word in British vernacular is “petrolhead”, a word that I use all the time. It also refers to a video game by the same name, which was recently released on Steam this year. But it’s not very good, at least in its current state.
It is a hybrid of a typical arcade-y racing game like a Need For Speed or a Burnout game, but it’s also a whole different genre of game as well. It’s also a car-building game, a relatively new genre of game in and of itself. Something like My Summer Car or Car Mechanic Simulator, but it takes the best and worst of both of these two types of games and manages to completely screws it all up, making one jumbled mess of nothing.
This game looked exciting from the start, a couple of YouTubers I know played Revhead and enjoyed about the first twenty minutes of the game. That was enough to make me go “OOH SHINY”, in typical consumer fashion, and buy the game on Steam. It looked good on the Steam Store page as well, but actually purchasing the game took three tries. That was the first red flag, Steam didn’t even want me to buy the game. Also, out of 30 or so reviews on Revhead’s Steam Store page, the total average review resulted in a “Mixed” review base, which isn’t very good.
But what is the game if you are a sucker and choose to actually buy it?
After you stop listening to the weird-but-mildly-alright digeridoo and rock-fusion music, you click Next, and you’re greeted with the “license creation” page, which is a collection of all of your saves. Unlike in My Summer Car, you can’t change the picture on the license at all, it’s just “Generic White Male #53.” Also, unlike in My Summer Car, there is no option to change saves or anything, just input a name and look stupid while doing it…
Then you are asked by your “uncle” in rural Australia to come to his shop and possibly work for him building race cars. The entire “letter” is all in horribly overdone Australian English; I couldn’t even understand what it was trying to say. Google Translate didn’t either, if that tells you something.
Well, the introductory job to the game is to “build” someone a V6 Walea, which is a small sedan that looks like a Lada. You swap out the stock 4-cylinder engine for a V6, and that’s that. Give it a new paint job, it’s out of the shop. The tutorial itself is a bit hand-holdy, so it tells you every step in excruciating detail. Here’s my Walea I built over time, with custom paint and a fully swapped supercharged V8 motor, lower-geared differential, better transmission, essentially everything I could possibly throw on the little thing.
Over the course of a few days, I acquired multiple cars in my little parking area. That little Walea sedan thing, a Narnoo (the Chevy Suburban lookalike), a Magura (the red and white Corvette thing), a Jingu (the pickup truck), and a Wanja (that mid-1990s Commodore on the left-hand side). All of these different cars I rebuilt and all of them except the Wanja have superchargers, because why not?
I got in my Narnoo, and started driving it around. It has a reported 471 horsepower and with the blower it should be pushing around 500 to 550, but it doesn’t quite feel like it has 550 horsepower on tap at all. This game feels too grippy, just about everywhere. In seemingly random situations it feels like there’s not enough grip either. I spun the SUV out on this dirt track, not because I flicked it in and weight shifted the whole thing, but because the physics in this game are just pretty terrible…
Speaking of the physics, you noticed my oxymoron about it being both too grippy and not enough? Well, my little Walea with about 500 horsepower won’t even pretend to catch traction, it just bangs off the rev limiter from 1st to 4th, but in 5th it stays at 5,500 RPM and pretends its clutch is slipping, even when the clutch is brand new. That’s the kind of thing I am talking about.
My Magura? The roughly 700 horsepower drag car I built with slicks? Yeah, it doesn’t want to go above 220 km/h, even when the registration says it can do 270km/h stock? Yeah that doesn’t seem right, it should be just sticking to the ground and want to top out the speedometer, but nope. I poured a bunch of time and money into this car and it doesn’t want to go as fast as it did stock.
So why did I build a drag car? For racing in the sand apparently. There are only 2 different tracks open for you to race on, but it is incredibly easy to win everything. The AI in this game loves spinning itself out and wrecking into things, so as long as you have a slow-feeling car on the street, you should be good. My Narnoo, the SUV, feels slow on the road, but it crushes everything on the gravel/sand racetracks. There is an asphalt track, but it’s “not open” yet, whatever that means.
Another complaint I have is that this game isn’t truly Australian. There are no utes anywhere to be found, and it is impossible to do a full Australian-style burnout outside of doing a peel off the line. You’ll peel off the line regardless because the clutch in this game releases at 2,500 RPM. That’s not very good for your clutch, I can smell it from here.
Bugs? The game has got ‘em. Racing on the second track, my tires will catch the side of the road, flipping my car over for absolutely no reason, making me have to fix later it for a hefty sum. I’ve shattered all the windows in 2 of my cars twice due to that minor “issue”.
This game just pisses me off on occasion. I’m getting more and more pissed off as I write this. I wouldn't reccomend buying this game until it’s all fixed… especially because it’s not even Early Access. Really? Yup, it’s a full 1.0 release version.
“The hell?”, is an expression that comes to my mind right about now when I think about playing this game. It's hard to properly to express my emotions, anger, and confusion driven towards this horribly broken generic piece of software.
This article was written before the March 22, 2017 update, a couple of bugs I complained about were squashed, thankfully. Although most of the thoughts are still not great on the new version, sadly.