The DiRT franchise has had many faces over its near 10 year history. Originally, the game was very much focused on the point to point racing. As the series went on though, it became something more “Americanised”. It featured fireworks, stadiums, and gymkhana. There was even a spin-off game called DiRT Showdown that brought the series in a more arcade-like direction with a destruction derby included. DiRT Rally not only strips everything back to its beginnings but does so with more depth, enjoyment, and challenge than I’ve ever experienced in a rally game.
DiRT Rally is all about the multi-staged, precision driving thrill that the sport is known for. There’s nothing here that rewards you for showing off with your vehicle. Here, you’ve got to make it from point A to point B without destroying your vehicle and that’s it.
The career is broken down into championships of multiple events. Each event lasts a few minutes and feature treacherous terrain and constant focus is a must. Between each event you have 30 minutes to fix your vehicle which is shown as a percentage and everything takes time. You’ll never have enough time to fully repair your car so you must manage by prioritising which parts were damaged more and which ones might hold out for the duration of the championship.
Speed will only lead to crashes and failures. You must be careful with how much you throttle down on the accelerator. Push things too hard and you can easily damage your car beyond repair and cost yourself a multi-staged championship. This heart-breaking moment is followed by a true determination and a critical eye on what went wrong.
Listening to your co-driver is essential if you want to make it to the end of the event. He will call out the upcoming sections and turns in which you must be able to make a decision right then and there. There’s a sense of instinct that needs to take over as you trust the words of your co-driver. You’re not only always watching the tight road in front but also listening to every word that’s said to you.
Sure DiRT Rally may frustrate at times, especially when it felt like a tiny mound on the road has ended it all but it feels pure. It’s an authentic rally game that never feels like the game itself fails you. You never consider the physics model screwing up or the visuals not giving you what is required to read everything in front of you. You overcompensate, you under-compensate, or you read it all wrong. It always feels like it’s on you.
The multiplayer in DiRT Rally is spectacular. You find a game pretty quickly and it still is very much about the best driving possible. You can drive as teams together which means you’ve got to be careful not to knock into your teammate because risky racing could cost your team the game just to the fastest in your own group. Synchronicity is key.
Visually, the game is one of the better looking ones and runs at a smooth 60 frames a second. For a game that requires quick reactions and slight corrections, this makes the whole experience even more enjoyable. There is a great amount of detail on the cars and the surrounding environments are similarly eye-catching.
For a game that’s all about rally racing, there is so much to do. Whether you play through the single-player or the multiplayer you will earn credits which can then be used to buy new cars and race in new events. Everything feels both substantial and satisfying. I found it incredibly hard to stop playing to write this review. This is racing purity at it’s very best.