REVIEW: Dirt Rally 2.0
The rain is pattering away on the window as the letterbox rattles and our review copy of Dirt Rally 2.0 comes through. Staring out into the car park at my lonely Ford Focus, I had the strange urge to try and scour tight corners of New Zealand with my handbrake and fly over crests of the tracks of Spain at high speeds. Thankfully Dirt Rally 2.0 is just the thing to satisfy this.
Ok, so maybe it doesn't quite scratch the urge, due to not being able to drive a Ford Focus. The game itself gives a range of around 50 cars and 6 settings across the world. I'll admit this in comparison to other racing games is quite the let down and in addition to this, the randomly generated track creation from Dirt 4, is now missing, settling to try and keep to the realism slightly, but limiting the amount of stages that you'll come across in both Career and Free Play.
But in all honesty, those are my only flaws with Dirt Rally 2.0. I thought I'd kick off with these because after a few hours of writing the rest of this review, I realised I was gushing like a small girl who's been asked to write a report on her favourite member of Boyzone for the school newspaper (they're still a band right?).
So where do I start? Let's go with the flawless graphics that Codemasters have crammed into the new title. Playing on a PS4 Pro, from the day of launch (well actually a little bit before hand), it's astounding to sit back and delve into the detailing that is woven into every stage, every selection, every second of this title. As my 280 R2 flawlessly slides around the corner, I glance at the branches blowing down the trail of the stage in Poland I'm in, and it takes my breath away. Causing me to smash through the side boundary and toppling my little Peugeot. As I take my timing penalty to recover back onto the track, I notice the minor cracking in the windscreen and the loss of light from my car as, surprise surprise, I've smashed one of my front lights. But it's not just the gorgeous graphics that bring the immersion factory into the title, the sound quality is at the next level. Tyres screeching and rumbling across the varying terrain, wipers rubbing against the glass during the splatter of rain and mud and the co-driver instructions just suck you into the experience.
It's always a joy as well when Codemasters release another title, as they seem to know the exact formula for creating the 'feel' of a game. Once again they provide with the aforementioned, providing a title that seems to serve up the flow of rally. Most racing games recently I've picked up seem to praise and push the idea of keeping my finger on the accelerator and pushing my car to go at insane speeds. Now while some may thoroughly enjoy this, and I do at times, the reward of slowing down after paying attention to your co-driver, and curving the back end of your car across the dirt paths, is incredibly satisfactory.
However balancing this learning of risk/reward playstyle doesn't come easily and definitely requires a bit of learning. Kicking off into the Career mode, I settled into my time on Dirt Rally 2.0 quite quickly. Initially placing last, with multiple time penalties and a car that looked like it had sat in a rage room, I began to learn both how to feel the car through corners, listen to my co-driver and ease off the pedals to try and make it to the end of each stage. This may have been helped with a driving school, a-la Dirt 4, but the initial stages of the Career mode give an opening to those new to the series to get to grips with the title. It may have taken me 2 more stages to realise that I had to put time into repair between stages (at getting very confused as to why the back of my vehicle kept pulling out in the other direction to how I was turning), but I have to admit Career mode sucked me in almost instantly. Laying down the decisions of either improving my repair crew or installing upgrades, commentating rivalries to myself and remembering tracks that I prefer, turns I can see when I close my eyes and giving me a real sense of connection to my career.
From 1st to 6th gear, Dirt Rally 2.0 isn't just a continuation of a series. This is a labour of love to a sport which gives those who have years of rally game experience and those who have never picked a Codemasters/Dirt/Colin Mcrae, a perfect title to pick up and enjoy. If you don't have a steering wheel setup, be ready to go out and buy one after playing this.