Face in the dirt.
The DiRT series has been racing forward for years now. It remains one of the most prolific rally racers for good reason. Codemasters has fine-tuned their craft over the years, and DiRT 4 is no exception. This latest entry brings a lot of the old and a ton of new to create one of the most complete packages in a racing game ever. Mix that with some remarkable visuals and options for both kinds of racing fan and we have a treat that is more than worth the price of admission.
Right from the get-go the improvements are noticeable. One of the largest is the fleshing out of the career mode. Sure, there are still plenty of races across each different type, but now there is a ton of under-the-hood improvements to make it more interesting. Players can now hire staff, manage sponsorship deals, and even add perks to their crew. The game also allows for a team of racers that have their own branding and can enter multiple races. It really is a lot to take in, but for those that enjoy it, it is really well implemented.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
DiRT 4 is highly approachable thanks to its two different physics models. Players can opt for the more realistic Simulation mode, or the more relaxed Gamer mode. Simulation puts everything to the test and requires a lot more dedication about the intricacies of rally racing. Gamer mode offers a bunch of assists to make driving feel more arcade-like. This lets players of any skill jump in, and for those with dedication it offers a solid challenge.
Probably the biggest new addition though is Your Stage. This is a random track generator that allows players to set some specifics and then create a new stage. I usually hate random level generators, they take the personality and intimate design out of games, but this one seems to work. What I love is that it let me decide how long, what terrain, and what kind of weather I wanted. Then it pieces together a unique track that could be saved and shared if I liked it enough.
These tracks also didn’t feel random. The engine doing the work pieces together things brilliantly, including trackside attractions. It feels endless and keeps things fresh, as opposed to having the usual stable of tracks with their only diversity being offered in reverse.
Of course, no racing game is worth much without solid handling. DiRT 4 feels great. Each type of race feels unique, and handling trucks on circuit tracks feels extremely different from long-form rally racing. Kicking up dirt feels great, and upgrading vehicles makes a definite impact. Codemasters has fine-tuned the controls in their games to make them feel so good.
Visually the game looks great. Seeing damage modeling on the cars gives a sense of the rough terrain, and the progressive clutter of dirt and mud that cakes onto the vehicles is nice. The tracks are well detailed and the game runs great. I would have liked to see a few more environments in the game, but what is here is nice. The highlight though is the lighting. Passing through clusters of trees with the sun shining through is still breathtaking, even after multiple times. This is a good-looking game.
There is a lot to see and do in DiRT 4, and it is all well-designed. I feel like the career mode has a little too much micromanagement for my tastes, but I appreciate the additions. For fans of classic rally games this is by far the best it has been in years. DiRT Rally left me feeling a little empty with its focus on simulation style, but DiRT 4 strikes a nice balance between being accessible to anyone, but deep enough for hardcore fans.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.