Do you love the racing games of the last few years, loads of assists, lots of rewind options, literally holding you hand when that light turns green, well get ready for that hand to be let go and your face quite literally pushed in the muddy waters, as Dirt Rally is here, and its no push over, no easy task, and it might just be the game that Rally fans have been waiting for.
Dirt Rally, Codemasters’ latest entry in the Colin McRae Rally series will have the true rally racing fans salivating at the mouths, Dirt Rally is hard, very hard as a matter of fact, this will pick out the strong from the weak, this is not just about simply going as fast as you can to the finish line, there are factors in Rally driving that effect the final standings, and it’s no different here in Dirt Rally, you will need all your wits about you, and its not just your eyes on the road, you better keep an ear out too as you will need them just as much, if not more as anything this time round, and its a welcome difference from the assisted racing games we’ve had over the last few years.
Dirt Rally is being released on both Xbox One and PS4, as well as PC (Retail). Dirt Rally has actually been in Early Access via Steam since early 2015 with continuous changes, updates and tweaks to make this the best possible game the Dirt name has been put against, and fortunately Codemasters’ have listened to everything that the community have said and with the success of a very strong showing on its digital release in December on PC, it’s now the month on consoles and disc with Dirt Rally in April.
As stated before, Dirt Rally is hard, the learning curve here will be scary to the casual player, and even might surprise some of the more capable players out there too, but fear not, with practice practice practice, you really could become that rally master, but just remember you will fail, you will scream, and your co driver with shout to you to do an ‘LEFT 6 DON’T CUT 150’ but you’ll likely just disregard that, accelerate as much as possible, and cut that chicane with no respect for the track at all, you will learn and learn quick, that your co driver is the biggest help you can have out there on that track.
In terms of presentation Dirt Rally has stripped away the flashy menus of previous titles, and gone for a more streamline tile based set up, yet still has a gorgeous backing screen with slow mo videos behind the menus of various cars in action. You start off with the norm of inputting various details like name, nationality and age, and then you are shown the potential assists. As mentioned a few times already, Dirt Rally certainly feels like a lot of this assistance when racing has been removed, but there is still a few here to help beginners out with the likes of Transmission and Clutch Override options, Traction and Stability Control, as well as ABS. There are even a few visual differences which really ramp up the difficulty with the likes of the ability to remove the entire HUD, change the amount of camera shake, or even the option to allow or not allow the use of Exterior Cameras which in Dirt Rally’s case means that you can only drive in cock pit or dashboard camera options, so no out of car view, for me personally, I like the out of car view (mainly because I’m not very good at racing games) but that realism option is here for the hardcore rally player out there.
On offer here within Dirt Rally is the choice of Career, Leagues and Custom Event as your bread and butter of game play options. Within those choices there are more variants that you can play through for example PVP matche up or Custom Champtionships. Career mode will be your staple here though in Dirt Rally, you automatically join a ‘crew’ to start off and then you would race in various Championship Rally’s. The Rally’s here are quite long and intense, and depending on your chosen event you can have anything from 2 – 6 stages on each event and depending how good you are can be 4 minutes plus each race, so it really throws the courses, sectors, and bends right at you. There is also Online Events for between 2-8 players where you can also earn in game credits as like in the Championship mode to spend on the cars available.
There is a fair few here, you are looking at around 40+ cars (promised DLC in the future as well) and a great selection to choose from. You have the likes of 1960s, 70’s, 80’s, Group B, Group A and Group R Cars, 2000s and 2010s modern rally, Rallycross, and Pike Peak vehicles. You obviously have to work your way through career mode through the multiple events in Rally, Rally Cross and Peak Pine championships to earn said credits to unlock vehicles, but just the way each vehicle is presented and the details shown for each vehicle shows that Codemasters’ has put a lot of thought into which type of gamer will play Dirt Rally for the long haul, as listed on each vehicle is the likes of engine location, type of drive, weight, BHP and transmission type, so you could really find the car that suits the course, and work on bettering your result time and time again and climb up those offline and online leader boards.
In terms of the amount of racing material on hand here, you are looking at around 72 different stages. The main gist here come in the form of 2 10-15 km stages for each country, and then they run also in opposite directions and then split into halves as well, giving 4 long and 8 short stages for one Rally. There are 12 stages, 6 countries (Greece, Sweden, Finland, Germany, United Kingdom (Wales) and Monaco (Monte Carlo) ) which works out to around the 72 stages mark. There are other variants that you can throw in, the likes of Pikes Peak in mixed and tarmac configs as well as 3 RallyCross tracks in 3 configs for each. That’s a nice chunk of gaming here, and the whole point to better yourself each time will really allow the player to get to grips with each course on show, and enjoy the experience every time (not cry like a baby on the first race like me as I’m rubbish)
After events within the Career mode you also have to repair your vehicle for any damage throughout previous stages. You have normal Breaks, Wheels, Bodywork that may need repairing, but you also have the likes of Radiator, Exhaust, Gearbox or Driveshaft which need to be maintained. Doing repairs though can incur time penalties, you have the freedom of 30 seconds to use, but if your total repairs pass this 30 seconds mark, that’s when the time penalties come into play. You can use as little or as much, no one repair would be the same, it varies on the damage, so one might be 3 seconds, whereas one could be 7.5 seconds, it varies on the severity of the damage. Make sure you choose what needs to be repaired wisely, but also remember that one radiator that you think could be OK for the next race, if that’s fails, you’ll fail.
There are some on screen visuals to help you in the game. This is in the form of the visual commands from your co driver, apart from shouting out the commands, you also have a brief image shown at the top of the screen of the instructions you have just been given, so ‘TURN LEFT 80 POSSIBLE JUMP’ will also show with this little image with an arrow, and the speed next to it to go, don’t expect a map of the stage you’re, as that’s your lot here, and its a nice touch, again a aspect that makes it more difficult, but feel that bit more realistic. It does feel like Codemasters’ are trying to lead you into the real experience, potential for no assists on, no outside view, no help, just you driving, with your co drivers getting to A-B, this in the long run will make you the better driver for sure.
Graphically Dirt Rally looks stunning. The draw distance is lovely, the trees and bushes create shadows aplenty and then you have the harsh looking sun depending on the stage (in one of the earlier cases it is set in Greece). The course flies up dirt and mud as you speed on through, and you can even pass parked cars or ambulances which are used to create the track on certain sectors. The audio here is also top notch and something that we now come to expect from a Codemasters’ racing title. Dirt Rally also runs flawlessly at 1080p 60FPS so when you are going speeding towards that hair pin right, and you are going 50MPH too much, you certainly feel it.
There isn’t much here to complain about. The only issues to generally touch a upon is the learning curve of Dirt Rally for new players, yet some may see this as an added bonus, and possible that some of the modes away from the Championship are not massively fleshed out, however if you have picked up Dirt Rally, and completed a race or two, and thought, “Yea I quite enjoy this”……
You’re truly in for the ride of your life