“DiRT Rally is realistic and challenging, cutting no corners…”
I picked up the early access version of DiRT Rally for a couple of different reasons. One is just that I like racing games. The second is that I really enjoyed playing Colin McRae Rally, and was interested in how this game would compare. The third was that the game had some cool cars in it, and it looked really shiny too. So, call me a magpie, but this is how I came to play Codemaster’s latest addition to the DiRT series. It is slightly different to what they have put on offer in the series before, and there are visible improvements to how the game looks in this instalment. What every racing game fan who has been drawn in by this shiny new toy will really be wondering of course though is how does it play?
Well, normally I am pretty good at racing games. I understand the basics of how to work the cars to do what I want. My only experience of rally racing however is the aforementioned Colin McRae rally, which let’s face it whilst it was good it wasn’t really all that challenging. Suffice to say I don’t really know how rally driving works – I am not generally an avid fan of the sport. This put me at a disadvantage from the off when I loaded up DiRT Rally for the first time then, as there is no tutorial to the game and little instruction regarding how things were going to go down. The main problem with this was the co-pilot (if that is what you call them?), as he was shouting out what I presume were useful instructions, but ones which I only truly understood the “left” or “right” parts of. I think I picked it up as I went along in the end, but it certainly would have been nice for the game to have included some explanation of these instructions for any beginners out there, perhaps just in the form of a tutorial race.
Beyond this hitch however you will be pleased to hear that there is very, very little to grumble about in this game. DiRT Rally is realistic and challenging, cutting no corners in its attempt to deliver both a fun and accurate representation of its subject sport. The fact that you have a co-pilot, as well as on-screen images of his instructions, makes the game immersive, as does the option to play from a viewpoint within the car. Yes, ok, this is a common feature in many racing games, but in DiRT Rally is makes you feel (effectively speaking of course) every bump, hop, and indeed crash that your car performs. If you want to really get the immersion of all of the bouncing around you would experience during rally driving, the game provides it. Equally impressive is the level of detail in the damage that you can do to your car, from scratches and smashed glass to missing tyres and doors. DiRT Rally doesn’t try to play nice with you, it gives you a hard ride. The only thing you can’t do is hit the spectators, which let’s be fair is a admissible absence from the game.
Controlling the game is easy in terms of learning the controls themselves, which are pretty standard as racing games go, but is by no means easy in practice. Rally driving is a sport which takes immense practice, skill and concentration to perfect, and you feel every bit of that struggle as you attempt to stay on track and not fly off of hills and into trees. There are plenty of options to increase or decrease this challenge as you wish though, so no gamer should ever be either totally stuck nor left feeling bored by the experience. As with any game, the more you play the easier it gets, and of course different cars will offer totally different gameplay experiences. As well as its ever increasing variety in cars, DiRT Rally seems to be one of the few racing games to have perfected the varying effects that weather and track conditions will have on driving. This makes controlling the game even more of an art form, but once again makes it feel ever more realistic.
If realistic is what you want in a driving game, DiRT Rally is certainly for you. Even during its early access stages, the game has an unparalleled accuracy in its portrayal of rally driving and offers an unmissable experience to racing game fans. And with even more to come in the future, this is a game well worth buying now so that you fully experience the growth and consistent improvement of a genuinely excellent driving game. Just give DiRT Rally a simple tutorial option, and this game will be well on its way to earning its full five stars come review time!