Sometimes with racing games, all you need is a bit of luck and minor skill to be able to succeed. You can jump in any car and be winning races within minutes, and the game sometimes even gives you a helping hand by allowing you to rewind and redo parts of your races. DiRT Rally is not one of those games where you can get by with a bit of luck, you will need dedication and a lot of skill to get by in this game. Hardcore rally fans and racers will revel in the challenge whereas newbies or amateur racers may be put off a little.
DiRT Rally: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC
Publisher: Koch Media
Release Date: 5 April 2016
Price: £54.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
For those unfamiliar with rally games, for the most part, the game offers you tutorial videos before you jump straight into the racing. The tutorials help to explain a bit more about some of the techniques you have to master in order to win a race (and to stay on the track in general). The game will continue to talk you through things as you go along, and does feel accommodating to people unfamiliar with the genre, even if the actual racing is not quite as kind. You will be guided through the menus as well, and introduced to the different modes and options that exist. Veteran rally fans will feel right at home with the various career and online modes, as well as with the various optional extras that can be turned on and off, accompanied with the tinkering you can perform to each individual car.
The career mode offers you the basic rally mode, where you race alone and try to set the fastest completion time of the track against others racers, as well as the more intense rallycross and hill climb. You’ll find yourself competing across a number of different stages as you progress throughout the career mode, and have to use different cars depending on the category of the race. Credits will be used to purchase new cars, as well as add the required upgrades to said cars, these can be earnt by completing and placing high up in races. If you prefer a little more freedom in your racing, there’s the opportunity to create both your own leagues and championships, where you can set the races in a season and all aspects of these races, from the track to the weather conditions. This freedom means the opportunity to create a racing structure to better suit you, and getting to grips this way may help you when it comes to the harder types of racing you’ll come across later in your career. You can also invite friends to join you in your league, so the promise of a proper multiplayer season fun is real in DiRT Rally.
This isn’t of course the only opportunity for multiplayer in DiRT Rally though, with plenty more on offer for the more competitive racer. The online multiplayer offers daily, weekly and monthly events for you to participate in, challenging you to set a time before checking to see where you rank when the time is up. This means even those not overly fond of the multiplayer aspect can still take part, and still feel like they are racing alone.
For those who know a lot about rally cars and what works best for them, there’s the ability to tweak things to your hearts desire. For those a little less clued up on the workings of rally cars, you can hire a number of qualified engineers to work on your cars and improve different aspects for you. This means both gamers clued up on cars and those who might not be can still race in the best car possible, and doesn’t require a lot of rally knowledge to still be able to get the best out of your car. There’s plenty of recognisable cars makes and manufacturers that most should at least be familiar with the name of, especially with more obvious brands like the Mini Cooper, each has the potential for plenty of purchases to fill up your garage and upgrade each and every vehicle as you go progress.
There’s a fairly big selection of courses for you to drive on, which may look fairly simple on first glance, but will prove more of a challenge once you actually try and drive across them. As a newcomer, don’t be surprised to find yourself flying off the track at every corner if you take it at full speed. Over time, you’ll learn when to speed up and slow down, when to drift round the corners and when to go full throttle. Having your Co-Driver shout out and assist you with what’s coming up, as with real-life rally racing, makes things a little easier, but if you are new to the genre these call outs will sound like a foreign language at first. They will quickly become extremely helpful and important to your driving, as knowing when a sharp corner is coming up or a jump is crucial to your ability in getting around a course without crashing or flying off course, which could cost you precious time.
The tracks themselves are gorgeous to drive around, don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping and admiring the environment around you, especially if you spend more time crashing than actually on the track. The rally cars look very realistic, and their movements all fit in with this as well, which makes DiRT Rally such a hard but advanced driving game. The bright colours and exciting soundtrack are the perfect accompaniments for you as you drive along with each track different from the last, in both look and feel, you’ll have to adjust your driving style to fit in with this. Attention to detail has really been key with this DiRT game, the parallels with real life driving and the overall feel of the game are top notch.
DiRT Rally is not a game for the casual racer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. Veteran racers might even struggle to get to grips with the game at first, but it’s important to be willing to put in the time with this one as you won’t be able to just pick it up and play it with perfection. The whole look and feel of the game is spot-on, with plenty to keep you occupied with hours upon hours of racing to be enjoyed. I will admit that I struggled to get to grips with the game, and spent more time off the track than on it, but it’s easy to see how good the game is, even if you aren’t good at it yourself. It may be tough and this alone may be enough to put some gamers off, but if you are willing to accept you might fail and crash quite a lot, the reward in the long term will surely be worth it.