Thanks to X Box for the review code!

START YOUR ENGINES!

The track shimmers in the heat haze, the sun blazes from a cloudless azure sky.  The chequered flag is raised, the engine is slowly revving, and finally the flag drops, the lights go green and we are go.Dakar is one of the most gruelling races in the world. It goes through 14 stages, blazes across 4 continents and is open to several classes of motor vehicle.

You have your standard rally car, race truck, quad bike, or motor cycle some of which make things easier than others (more on this in a while)

Vehicles are provided by Toyota, Mini Cooper and Yamaha to name but a few, and these vehicles have to be every bit as tough as the men (and women) who drive or ride them. But lets look under the hood of this racer shall we?

BUCKLE UP!

First off if you are a digital petrol head and have played games such as Forza then the controls will feel as comfortable as a glove.

Right trigger to accelerate, left trigger to brake, and left stick to control the car/truck/bike etc.

So it won't be long before you are churning up great clouds of dust as you blast your way across the dunes.

So simple right? Err no.....

USER INTERFACE.

Like previous rally games, you get a friendly co driver to guide you, providing that is, you are not on a single seater vehicle. On a bike or Quad Bike, you have to rely purely on the note book interface and trust me that's tricky in BOTH driver/co driver or rider mode.

You see being in a desert you don't have a clearly marked road to follow. Sure you can follow tire tracks as a guide but then you have to stay on line with something called CAPS, and there's this weird navigation aid called (wait for it) Tulip, and both of these are as useful as a chocolate fire guard and might just as well be talking in Swahili for all the good it does.

Located on the top right hand corner of your screen, is a note book. This is divided into 9 segments, and under each one is a yellow progress bar that fills as as you make progress.

The co driver gives you guidance, as you'd expect but then you are more as often as not, left wondering what the hell is he on about?

Turn left he said. but where?

No track to follow and the only tire tracks I can see go the other way so what the fudge??

So you want me to turn HERE and go off road across the sand, but just how far? 

3 clicks right. 

So like a good boy I follow the direction and then start thinking where now? I've gone past 3K and now you start telling me we've lost the Cap. which is some sort of check point. Miss one, you get a time penalty, miss too many and you get a DQ.

It all gets very confusing and muddled. 

Look we object when we get a game when it holds us by the hand but this one, clubs you over the head and gives you a learning curve that is as steep as Mount Kilimanjaro and harder to scale.

LOOKS SO PRETTY BUT....

Don't let looks deceive you. Sure it looks swell, and OK colours are somewhat restricted, being desert and all that, but the textures are well rendered.

Dust and mud stick to the cars as you race, very nicely rendered clouds of dust rise up around you but that does not detract from the fact that this is a game that just does not thrill and excite you like Forza 7 or Forza Horizon 4, in fact it is just NOT fun. 

It's hard, frustrating and vehicle handling, don't get me started.

Look these things are made to travel across sand yes? So why do the buggers get stuck or slide like Bambi on a frozen river?

ON LINE....Loading....Loading....and still loading...

It takes ages to log onto the servers and when it does, there's lag, drop out and unexpected log outs.

Simply put, you want racing fun, look elsewhere. If you miss that cross country racing vibe play FH4 or even go old school and dig out Dirt, or if you have access to them, the Motorstorm series.

You want a game that is the motor sport version of Dark Souls without the dying then play this.

Leave the keys in the ignition and walk away from the vehicle.