The DiRT series makes a triumphant return and it brings with it all the lessons learned during DiRT Rally. DiRT4 adds to that and brings a featureful, action-packed title onto consoles and gaming machines, for old and new fans everywhere.
DiRT 4 opens strong with clever difficulty settings that run the gamut between arcade handling that’s instantly accessible to a more hardcore real-to-life simulation. But no matter what difficulty you’re on the cars feel like they all have their own weight and unique traits, and learning how they react and handle is a task that’s endlessly enjoyable. If you’re looking for practice there’s also a cool new free roam mode, which sets you up in a huge playground of dirt, jumps and corners all designed to put each car through its paces.
Sideways in a Subie
DiRT 4 successfully captures the unique excitement and tension that typifies rally. You’ll be on the edge during every race, whether it’s on Australia’s red and dusty back roads, Spain’s fast and flowing tarmac streets, the tight, muddy and twisting roads of Wales or the flat and fast gravel roads of the US, every map will have you sweating the details. You’ll be making good use of the co-driver’s instructions, preparing the car for each bump and bend as you start to gain confidence in corners, shifting the weight before entry and braking as late as possible to shave precious seconds off those stage times. They have also widened the run off area available, meaning you’ll probably find yourself involved in some spectacular crashes early on as you come to grips with it all. It seems small as a feature but its implications are huge, as it means you can recover before the virtual boundary is reached, than subsequently reset back onto the track, which was a small but annoying nuisance of past titles.
While conventional rally is a big part of DiRT 4, it is certainly not all there is on offer. Cars and tracks from the World Rallycross championship are available, and many will find these races the most exciting, especially for the multiplayer modes. There are also the mud-filled short arena circuits of the trucks, karts and buggies. For those of you on the realism setting, these will be the most challenging thing the game throws at you; who’d of thought rear-wheeled karts would drive so badly? If you are anything like me you will try and try again to put in a decent lap with these diabolical machines, and while it’s not impossible, it certainly requires a lot of work and fine tuning, both to your driving style and racing setups. It’s during these races that if you decide to opt for the more handling-friendly gamer mode, you will find that these races come alive and can be really enjoyed for the type of races they are: a bunch of dirty fun.
Accessing these various racing disciplines can be accessed through the conventional single player races and online modes, and are bolstered by daily, weekly and monthly challenges. For those looking at doing some hard climbing, the online leaderboards are split between your choice of handling mode, but the best place to experience everything the game is offering is through career mode. This not only introduces you to the wide world of rally gradually, but allows you to level up, earn reputation amongst your fellow racers and unlock faster and faster racing classes. You will also be put in charge of your very own racing team, managing things like engineers, team colours, sponsors and facilities. You’ll battle for prize money for your growing team which you can reinvest and into things like bigger garages, new cars and improved car parts. This really creates another level of racing realism and challenge, as you will have to decide whether you race your own car (while risking damage and all of its related costs), or choose to accept a contract with teams offering spots for a drive but at a severely reduced payout.
With the vast amount of cars and race events to enjoy, Codemasters have ensured that the graphics and sound design also match the level of detail found throughout. While they aren’t ground-breaking in terms of photorealism as such, there has been immense care taken with small details added to each and every car; the cloth and textures on the dash, the gauges and dials in the cockpit, dirt and stone chips that cover the car, slow moving cracks in the windshield, external damage models, dust and leaves that scatter the road being whisked up and thrown wildly into the air, the loss of visibility when the early morning fog descends and the sun glaring off the screen during sunny events, it all makes for an incredibly authentic virtual racing experience. Not to forget the sound engineering, which makes each car sound unique. The subtle sounds of stones battering the underside and that unmistakable hiss of the turbo spooling up on Group B cars are also sublime. Top it all off with a soundtrack comparable to the likes of FIFA games and you get a tidy package.
DiRT 4 successfully captures the unique excitement and tension that typifies rally. You’ll be on the edge during every race
All things said and done, DiRT 4 is a meaty game, with a ludicrous amount of content to keep you hooked. Another big play in terms of features which needs to be mentioned is the track creation tool. With an intuitive system of creating, sharing and playing user-made tracks, the addition of a track creator theoretically allows for virtually unlimited tracks and a career mode where you never play the same stage twice.
Codemasters have made sure DiRT4 is accessible to people of all skill levels, building upon the knowledge gained from DiRT Rally and cramming in a crazy amount of content. Things like the procedural track editor opens up an almost limitless amount of stages, which is a dream come true for many rally fans. The addition of karts, trucks and buggies makes for some intense rubbing racing, though modes featuring these are definitely the hardest for simulation fans. The game can be enjoyed equally both on and offline and keeping the World Rallycross championship series in the game opens up the sport to a new audience, who will no doubt love its fast-paced nature. There is an obvious bias towards the pure rally discipline, and it’s understandably the most fleshed-out portion of all the disciplines available. DiRT4 also allows you to progress through the game in any order you desire and gives the player the freedom to write their own racing career through team management, sponsorships and special events. Young, old, professional or novice, DiRT4 has it all catered for and is a title worthy for any racing fan’s collection.
Reviewed on PS4