I assume to damn much sometimes.
After years without a DiRT game from the developers at Codemasters, I went head first into this new edition of the franchise with the notion that it would be somewhat like the previous entries; the cool soundtrack from fairly unknown artists playing in the background, a friend calling me by my actual name that I entered in before I played the game, and the overall sense of satisfaction when completing an event. What you know about DiRT is gone from this entry, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
DiRT Rally takes it cues from previous entries and turns it into a game of skill and knowledge rather than simply just holding your hand along the way. In fact, DiRT Rally may be the most realistic rally car game to ever come out, maybe ever. There are no difficulty settings, no lines you can make appear to help you know when to brake, and no guarantee that your car will turn when you tell it. It is the same with braking; just because you hit the left trigger it doesn’t mean you will reverse immediately. Rally can be punishing at first, but that’s because it wants you to understand the vehicles and how they work.
The difficulty comes from the cars themselves as you have to shift come of the weight around based on how you want to turn. For example, if you need make a left but you have been veering off to the right to stay on the road, then your car will want to make a right. Before you make the left you have to shift the weight by moving the stick once to the left and then again when making the turn. This is just one of the changes of mentality the player will have to get used to.
In the game, there are tutorials explaining how the cars work if you are not over confident in your abilities like I was at first. You probably won’t win your first race, or even your second for that matter. DiRT Rally is a true test of patience, to be sure, as you have to race your car multiple times just to get the upgrades you need to help succeed, and even with that, it is still going to come down to skill. I am multiple hours in and the highest place I have reached is third.
There are some options to help you out, but not necessarily the same kind as you would find in Forza. ABS and stability setting are there, but like other racing games, if you adjust them to your benefit, you will lose out on any monetary bonuses when completing a race. Having said that, those options may not help you at all if you don’t know how to tune your car. Setting up your differentials, suspension, and camping is integral on your car as it’s the only way to cater to your race cars performance, and your preference.
I will be the first to admit that I do not know much when it comes to differentials in a car. I like racing games for the race aspect, and just driving, but it would be hypocritical of me to claim to be a race car game fan and then give this game a negative review because it’s a racing simulation game that is too realistic. While I did go into this game with false pretenses, and was not initially happy about the tone of this game at first, there is fun to be had with DiRT Rally and I just needed to be more patient with myself than the game.
To bring more difficulty into the mix is the lack of an overhead map in the corner like most racing games have. You have to pay attention to the directions your navigator gives you as you race. If you choose just to keep your eye on the track and not to your partner telling you how sharp a turn is coming up, then it will probably end up with you spinning out or going off the side of a cliff. Overgrown trees and shrubbery also makes it difficult to see what is coming up and the developers seemed to have no qualms about making earth around you as realistic as possible.
Like the other DiRT games before it, Rally is a beautiful game that runs without any kind of lag or framerate issues. The weather elements to add another layer to the difficulty as you will find that the snow and rain are there more than just for looks. The switching from a gravel road to a dirt road does bring out the driver in you as you have to adjust your technique a bit to finish.
This may not be the DiRT game you are looking for if you want the Codemasters games from last gen. Instead, we are given a realistic Rally Cross game that will make you think like a racer and not just as a gamer going through the motions. While I still yearn for the DiRT from before, I can’t justify buying this game if you are just wanting a rally game like others before it, but if you want a something as realistic as a racing game can get, then DiRT Rally may be what you are looking for. Dirt Rally is a racing game in the greater sense, and it hardly apologizes for the mistakes you make as a racer, but rather makes you understand why you did.