Rally titles, while falling into the same genre as other racers, truly do remain to stand on their own. In the traditional sense it’s just you and your co-driver against the clock. It seems like a lonely experience when compared to other, more ‘social’ arcade racers out there but what it lacks in gimmicks it makes up for in tough and, at times, daunting gameplay. After all, does a hardcore rally title really need a rewind option?
The car, the legend.
3… 2… 1… GO!
There are simply no shortcuts around DiRt Rally’s steep learning curve. After purchasing your first vehicle you are thrown into deep end. Whether racing through Greece, Monaco, Wales, Germany, Finland or (and especially) Sweden you are tried and tested around every corner. The tutorial mode is presented by a multitude of video clips explaining various aspects of rally dynamics to you, rather than letting you practice them at your own pace. At first this seems to be a bit of a cheek taking the steep difficulty of the game into consideration but this is cleverly balanced and addressed in the actual gameplay.
Your car selection for your first championship is limited and you’ll only be able to afford a new car around the same time as you complete the excursion. This gives you an abundance of time to become accustomed to your car and proceed to appreciate the various upgrades to both the car and your numerous team members. You will quickly experience the difference team perks that the various engineers bring to the table. New upgrades make a huge difference and these can be achieved a lot quicker if you upgrade the slots of your team members. These do come at a cost but it’s worth every cent spent. By the time you’re ready to take on another car it’ll feel like a brand new experience. At this stage you’ll comprehend that DiRT Rally isn’t a racing sim, it’s a blatant, hardcore rally sim in every single way.
A different point of view
…and they’re off…
DiRT Rally doesn’t try win you over with a multitude of vehicles or levels. There are 10 different locations throughout the Rally, Rallycross and Hillclimb modes. As far as cars go there are over 40 over 15 different classes which by standards, these days, can be seen as below average. It’s just not the case as at no stage do you feel like you are limited in any way. By the time you’ve mastered a car you’ll be reluctant to move on rather than want to trade it in. The way the game eases you into each vehicle makes you appreciate each one for what they are and when you eventually qualify to the R4 events the Subaru Impreza WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X feel like absolute beasts.
The official FIA World Rallycross Championship challenges aren’t any less taxing, if anything they are more difficult than the traditional rally format. Whether it be Lydden Hill (England), Höljes (Sweden) or the appropriately named Hell in Norway – you’ll be tested to your limits while trying to work out the best lap to strategically complete your joker lap while keeping your position or overtaking the other racers on the course. The Online events, challenges and leaderboards span across various rally types and update with daily, weekly and monthly events that put you up against players around the word as well as your friends… that’s if you remain friends after they manage to beat your times.
Check the backside on that one.
For the fans…
If you’re looking for a quick ‘pick up and play’ racer that will kill half an hour of your time, then I can tell you, without a doubt, that DiRT Rally is not for you. As a matter of fact, this latest outing from rally veterans CodeMasters is essentially the Dark Souls of the racing genre. Rewinding time to correct an unnecessary mistake is a non-feature and quickly restarting a race is a punishable offence when it comes to reaping financial reward at the end of a championship. The visuals and sound help give a very real perception of speed as you approach a hairpin bend and ready yourself to try pull off a perfectly timed drift. DiRT Rally makes sure that you gradually progress and get comfortable with your current vehicle before getting into some of the more renowned cars that have become synonymous with the sport. Yes, DiRT Rally is unforgiving and at the pinnacle tier of difficulty. At the same time, however, it is a hugely rewarding outing that every rally fan needs to experience.