DiRT has been the franchise that started off from the core formula of the Colin McRae Rally series which eventually evolved into a standalone name dropping the famous legend’s name when the third game came out. During the earlier days, the series has been quite a success being one of the best rally simulation titles available but as the series progressed – it slowly shifted into the arcade territory losing the foundation that made the series so great.

However, with DiRT Rally – the latest addition to the franchise. Codemasters have vowed to return the series to its root with a full focus on realistic rally simulation without the excess that plague the last few releases of the game.

Started off on the PC platform, the game was released incomplete in early access so the developers can gather player feedback. This ensure the game will go through public testing and fans of the series or with simulation racers in general can help the developers shape the game. Since its full release on PC, the game gradually made its way onto console and this is where we come in to check out final product after months of testing.

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Upfront, players who are not experience with simulation titles will hit a brick wall. Even players like myself who dive a lot in racers and simulation felt this difficulty curve in the beginning. DiRT Rally holds no hands. It’s pure simulation and wants you to know this by offering this challenging level of gameplay. Rally has always been about the way drivers tackle the terrain pushing their car to the limits and DiRT Rally has captured this sense of challenge and fight you would see in real-life.

“Rally has always been about the way drivers tackle the terrain pushing their car to the limits and DiRT Rally has captured this sense of challenge and fight you would see in real-life.”

As you progress, you will unlock many different cars available from the multiple tiers. Each car is unique and it’s a challenge in itself to master the handling and limits of each one on multiple tracks. If you want to go nostalgic, there’s various cars from the 60s to 80s available all the way to the 2000s and modern rally’s.  Some of my favourite classics are available from the Ford Escort Mk2 to the Toyota Celica – there’s a few varieties here and will satisfy any rally enthusiasts.

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DiRT Rally has a few modes up on offer like Rallycross and Uphill Battle plus the multiplayer variations but the classic rally is where it’s really at. The other modes seem undercooked when compared to rally but offer something different if you want a break from shaving seconds. Jumping into these modes will also cost you money in which you’ll have to purchase a car suited for that type of racing. The cars are in their own types so you can’t use them for any other modes. I did a mistake of using my early funds to purchase a rallycross car which turned out badly because I couldn’t gain any money from it because I’m bad at that mode. So in the end, I actually had to create a new save because I didn’t have money to purchase a car for another mode. This was somewhat frustrating if you made the wrong move and the developers should at least give you a starter for each mode just in case you want to try it out.

The game also tries to implement some management system into the mix such as configurations of the cars to damage between different stages. The damage system and management for this part of the game was also well done trying to replicate real-life. You’re not going to get a fresh car during the individual events and If you beat up your car too much at the start, it will make your life even more difficult as you progress. The cars can be repaired but only with the allocated time window so you’ll have to evenly spread out or focus on what the most damage parts of your car needs attention.

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As the game was pushed across to the console platform, Codemasters wanted to retain a full high-definition 60fps performance on both the Xbox One and PS4. The team did a great job achieving this and while the Xbox One version featured dynamic resolution scaling, the retained 60-fps performance is really where the game should sit at. With a title so heavily focused on the quick and accurate racing, the increased frames-per-seconds help players make sure they get the optimal visual performance. While obvious sacrifices have to be made to run the game at this rate on consoles, the game still looks specular when compared to the PC platform.

Overall

The decision to return the series back to the roots is quite possibly the best move done by Codemasters for the franchise. The last DiRT titles have been questionable and for a series that started off with pure, hardcore rally racing – I started to get worried since so many modes got introduced the focus of rally has literally drifted away. DiRT Rally will bring fans back and take on new ones with its simulation focus. It’s a challenging game and prides itself on that difficulty which in return is one of the best rally titles I’ve played in a while.

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One and PC

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Verdict
Challenging Racing SimulationGreat Visuals and Performance on ConsolesVarious Modes and Cars
No Starter Car for Different ModesRallycross and Uphill Modes feels undercooked
90%Overall