DiRT Rally

DiRT Rally requires your full attention. One lapse in concentration and you may find that not only have your chances of success in the race diminished, but for the entire event you're competing in. This is a tough and difficult game; one that needs patience and skill, and that is exactly its appeal to me.

I've played every game in the series since Colin McRae Dirt. I know I'm not alone in feeling the series lost its way; somewhere around Dirt 2 and 3. I picked up Dirt Showdown in a bundle, played for six minutes, then uninstalled it with no intention of playing again. It's not that these were bad games – with exception to Showdown. Its just that they were leaning further and further away from rally driving, with pop-punk music, over-produced menus and tedious events.

Dirt Rally

DiRT Rally takes the series back to its basics; a focus on rally driving. There are three locations for rally events to take place; Wales, Monaco and Greece, with several routes in each area. The Hill Climbing event takes place in USA. You have a co-driver describing the upcoming turns of the course. This is something that you have to become accustomed to; that a 'six' is a slight corner, 'one' is the tightest. Also, remembering them in sequence while concentrating on the road can occasionally be quite challenging.

The handling feels different to any of DiRT Rally's predecessors. The arcade feel of the racing is gone. You need to slow down accordingly for corners, especially 'one' and 'two' type bends, and you'll often see yourself veer off the road and into a tree. Unlike its predecessors, there is no rewind feature. You can reset your vehicle back on the track with up to a fifteen second penalty. It can be punishing indeed when you're still learning. Stages can be lost on these penalties. There is a range of camera positions, including in-car. This is my preferred view for racing games.

Dirt Rally

The game looks spectacular. The detail on the cars are very impressive and while the locations are a little lacking, with the right weather conditions they can look stunning. Driving along in the heavy rain adds another challenge to the game or the bright sunlight casting shadows and obscuring your view. Replays are back and looking good as ever; able to slow down the footage to any speed you desire to get a great glimpse of your driving skills (or catastrophes). I've been running the game in ultra settings and have had no slow-downs at all.

The career mode takes you through each race in a location in one series. You don't see any other cars on the course; each race is a time trial. Finishing in a high position is difficult enough but there are other things that stand in your way. During the four stages you can only repair your vehicle once; and the amount that you can repair is limited. There is dynamic damage and the amount at which you'll crash while getting used to the game will leave your car in a state that is almost uncontrollable. Tires can burst causing you to constantly veer to one side.

Dirt Rally

Hill Climb is the feature most recently added to DiRT Rally and is fantastic. An uphill course; wonderful sprawling views and steep drops by the side of the road make the stages a joy to race. Again, it keeps with the difficulty of the rally stages. I'm yet to finish in the top three times on any of the stages.

This early access release is more for focusing on content updates rather than a buggy experience. I've only encountered one bug so far; a car in automatic refusing to gear up from the first. The first major content update has recently been released. This has added the Hill Climb event and several new cars.

DiRT Rally is the type of game where I'll restart a stage numerous times before being satisfied with my performance. It makes you concentrate while racing and strive for a better time again and again. The cost of the game will rise with each major update before the end of the year so now is a good time to pick it up.

Verdict:

Recommended

DiRT Rally is for those that felt that the DiRT series lost its way. The racing is tough but immensely satisfying and what is here is of high quality.

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Posted at 6:53am on Friday 21st July 2017

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