DiRT Rally (XB1) Review

Ken McKown

Very long easy right baby.

Rally racing games have been one of my guilty pleasures since the dawn of Rally Cross on the original PlayStation. There is something about them that interests me much more than standard street racing. The DiRT series has become known as the de facto in the genre for quite some time, so when Codemasters announced it was bringing back the series, I was excited to see where it could go on these new consoles. DiRT Rally is exceptional on multiple levels, but also probably the most hardcore the series has been in a long time.

The misconception of rally games is likely due to the popular ones not truly being rally experiences. Titles such as Sega Rally and the aforementioned Rally Cross straddle a more arcade line with racing games. Forgiving, simple, and focused more on the idea than the sport. DiRT Rally throws all of that out the window for a straight-up simulation experience. Failure is punished, and early on in races I was placing dead last. Needless to say, this game won’t be for everyone.

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MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99

There are three events in DiRT Rally: rally, hillclimb, and rallycross, each with their own unique set of rules and track types. The sheer amount of options in the game is, at times, overwhelming. Players can opt to have various levels of co-driver feedback. The granular levels of these things are part of what makes DiRT Rally great, while at the same time daunting for casual players. This is not a game for players that don’t have the patience to learn the ins and outs of rally racing.

Track variety is always a sticking point for these types of games. DiRT Rally brings the traditional locales with dirt, asphalt, snow, mud, and the like. Tracks span the globe, featuring circuits from Monaco, Finland, Sweden, and many more. It also helps that they are simply gorgeous. Running at a steady frame rate on both consoles, DiRT Rally is one beautiful game. Car models are superb, and the damage modeling is some of the best I have seen in a racer.

As for modes in the game, there are plenty. There is of course a career mode, championships, and plenty of custom races to keep players occupied. Racing in DiRT Rally is mostly solo, meaning you are racing against the clock as opposed to other drivers; this doesn’t make it any easier though. This game is brutal. Those expecting a rewind feature, or to powerslide around every corner at full speed are in for a shock. This game focuses on realism and simulation more than anything else. So players expecting a cakewalk on any level will come away disappointed.

Damage plays a role in races too. Rally races are not one and done affairs, they usually consist of a series of heats for an overall championship. This means any damage done to the car during one heat carries over to the next. As I said this is not a game for arcade junkies looking to simply get back on the track after rolling their car four times down the side of a mountain. There is also no map to speak of, instead I only had my co-driver, who is spouting what sounds like nonsense to the uninitiated at times. It’s an intense experience, but a rewarding one for those that invest the time to learn.

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DiRT Rally’s tutorials will deliver the basics, but it is up to the player to actually learn how to play. Thankfully, as with most Codemasters’ games, handling and control are superb. There are also a myriad of options for controls, but don’t expect to see any of the normal arcade sliders. Damage is on, no laundry list of assists, DiRT Rally wants players to learn how to race, but it also rewards those that do.

DiRT Rally is a tour de force for rally games, and a return to form for Codemasters. It is brutal, unforgiving, and most of all extremely rewarding for those that enjoy true rally games. It is not for everyone, and its simulation aspects will turn off a ton of gamers, but those willing to stick with it will find one of the most finely-crafted racing games of the generation.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Visuals are impressive
  • True rally simulation
  • Controls are sublime

Bad

  • Huge learning curve
  • Not for everyone
8.5

Great

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.
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