Dakar Desert Rally – Review
Follow Genre: Racing, Simulator
Developer: Saber Porto Ltd.
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

Dakar Desert Rally – Review

Site Score
Good: Beautiful graphics, A lot of content, Many vehicles, Great sounds  
Bad: Crashes often, Sometimes uncontrollable vehicles 
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The Dakar rally is one of the biggest races in the world. Taking place in the unforgiving sands of Saudi Arabia you’ll not only need a reliable car but also your driving wits and a good team of mechanics if you want to survive this endurance spectacle. It is a bit of a cliché that most developers who try to make a game with a branded stamp fail horribly in the game aspect and just try to sell it for the namesake. However, thanks to the skillful hands of Saber Interactive it seems that this time there is an exemption to the rule, but there could be some hidden issues lying beneath the first impression. 


There isn’t much story to be told behind the events taking place in Dakar Desert Rally. It might be the biggest desert race in the world, but the game doesn’t really tell you the story or let you relive the many cool events over the last few decades as some rally games do. This gives us mixed feelings, on one side it would have been great to learn more about the history of the rally, but on the other side, it is great that this game plays like any other racing game with the freedom to pick whatever event you want.


Visually the game plays out like a true masterpiece with a lot of attention to detail, yet it doesn’t achieve perfection in all aspects. Starting with the good aspects, a lot of things look amazing in the game. The large desert looks stunning every time you visit it, with its many roads, dunes, and villages, never getting boring even after hundreds of kilometers of kicking up dust. All the dust, sand, and mileage come to wear on your vehicle, and this is clearly seen after a race. Your car becomes dirty and possibly damaged depending on how you race it. Drive it carefully and it will come out decent, but throw it over dunes or tumble it and you’ll be driving a wreck in no time. Sadly, although the bar was set high, the water effects in this game look bland and as unrealistic as a 90s arcade game.     


Just like the graphics, it is clear that the sound team has been treated with an equally robust budget. You are offered a variety of vehicles to play with and abuse, each of which will sound unique. In true Dakar style, they all sound insane. Nothing is as fun as flying your retro rally car over large dunes all the while having your exhaust sound like an AK47 firing. The cars sound great and the trucks are just mouth-watering to drive. Thanks to their large turbo-diesel engines you feel like a true powerhouse in the sand. Not forgetting about the bikes and quads, which overall sound like their real-life counterparts. To accommodate the great engine sounds you have really good racing music playing in the background, which is quite a rare feat these last few years in racing games. If you have the comfort of a co-pilot (so not on a bike or quad) then the clearly spoken details come through better than in most rally games.  


Dakar Desert Rally is a racing simulator that takes you through the treacherous sands of Saudi Arabia. The game begins really calmly with a tutorial that lets you taste three of the five different vehicle types that you can have a go at within the actual game. After completing your first race, you are now tasked to get your first machine with the points you have earned. Lucky for you there are a few that can be acquired for free, as a welcoming gift. 

After this, you start with the first real event and get the feel for the game. There are three difficulty modes to choose from, and each game mode has different rules that you must follow. On easy mode, you’ll have visible aides on where to get to the checkpoints, but on medium or harder, you are to listen to your co-pilot or follow the instructions in the roadbook yourself. You are quite free to get from point to point as you are able to find sneaky shortcuts, but initially, the freedom can be a bit overwhelming as you’ll miss a turn or have to restart after crashing into a boulder because you were distracted.  

Keeping your vehicle in top shape is the only way to secure first place. Your opposition is fast and every little mistake can cost you big time. It might look tempting to pull a ‘Dukes of Hazard’ off a dune and feel like Superman, but a wrong landing can decimate your car with a spectacular crash. Fortunately, you have some spare parts in your trunk and are able to band-aid repair your vehicle to get to the finish. 

After each stage, your car will be inspected if it’s safe to drive with, so certain damages can be neglected and you might not feel the need to repair non-crucial elements. Take into consideration that every part has an effect on the durability and performance of your vehicle. Repairing your car costs money but it is nothing too severe to have you go broke, yet it will keep you mindful of maybe driving more carefully or not needlessly fixing parts that you’ll be breaking again later. 

At its core, the gameplay consists of rally events, each of which spans multiple days and your vehicle status will carry over from race to race just like in Rims Racing. Generally, the gameplay feels pretty solid and the racing is overall pleasant, yet some vehicles tend to lose grip and crash uncontrollably. This does get better the more you get used to the engine, but in some occasions, it still feels like there are bigger forces at play.  

You are free to pick what event you want to do, and fully completing it will award you with a cool retro race vehicle. To fully complete an event, you’ll have to finish first with each of the five different vehicle types. These types are cars, bikes, buggies, trucks, and quads. This gives the game plenty of replay value, and with the many different events that each consist of various multiple races, it gives the game a pretty long lifespan.

Sadly all good things must come to an end, and the biggest problem we noticed while playing the PC version is the various random crashes. Sometimes the game suddenly decides to crash, making you lose your progress. This can be especially frustrating when it happens at the end of a race. It isn’t certain if this is hardware related but maybe a simple patch could fix this. 


Dakar Desert Rally is the rally game that we secretly wanted but did not dare wish for. The production quality is that of a huge budget triple-A title and this is easily noticeable when it comes to the amazing graphics and lovely SFX. You have a huge range of vehicles to race on the many desert roads, and the replayability of this title seems endless. There is something for everyone to enjoy and the mechanic of keeping your car in shape feels right in place for an endurance race like this. The only downers are the random crashes and the vehicles that are sometimes uncontrollable, but this is nothing a few patches won’t be able to fix.  

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Dakar Desert Rally – Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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  1. […] had quite some good things to say about Dakar Desert Rally, seeing as it’s one of the better racing games made in the past few years. Based on the real […]

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