Codemasters has gone back to the core of their DIRT games with DIRT Rally, they’ve also enlisted the help of players to bring it back to its roots, but is it a half-assed attempt at pleasing fans?
DIRT Rally surprised everyone when Codemasters announced the new title. Not only was it unexpected, it launched onto Steam that same afternoon letting players dive right into the gritty action. We were fortunate to receive a copy of the game to see how the game shapes up so far and also keep an eye on whether Codemasters live up to their promise of regular updates, or whether the game is left to dry up.
From the off, DIRT Rally already feels like a pretty polished product, of course it’s nowhere near finished, but there’s no sign of Early Access woes, and if I didn’t know better I’d say that this was pretty much the final product. Overall the game plays well and feels like an authentic rally driving experience, there are no gimmicks, no exclusive features such as Gymkhana (much to my disappointment) It’s just you, your co-pilot, and the dirt. So far it actually lives up to Codemasters promise of a no frills rally experience.
DIRT finally offers a rally simulation experience that players have been asking for, for years. It’s a core focus too.. it’s not a part of various different disciplines thrown into one game, you’re racing a rally through dirt, grit, snow, tarmac, and more. DIRT Rally throws you into the risky world of rally as you go flying through countrysides at 100mph just inches away from the rocks, logs, fences, and trees found on the edges of the narrow track.
It’s also punishing too. It’s not afraid to totally throw away your excellent time by chucking in the effects of a burst tyre. It’s not afraid to let you know that you’ve fucked up by getting a little to close to that rock on the last corner. The game already is offering a realistic experience far surpassing that of the previous games, even games of past too such as TOCA and Colin McRae. It’s fantastic that it doesn’t want to sugar coat your terrible driving, in fact throughout my entire time with the game, I’ve never managed to come further than sixth place with all four tyres intact.
As for someone relatively new to the scene the game also doesn’t hold the hands of newcomers, throwing you right into the middle of a championship on the windiest track known to man. You’re then expected to know what “Right 5 over crest”, “Left 3 don’t cut”, and “300 double caution jump” actually means. Though some of them are fairly easy to interpret, you’re often left wondering what the hell Left 3 actually is which as a rally newbie, I haven’t got a clue. This lack of accessibility when it comes to Rally terms doesn’t actually spoil the experience and you can usually roughly figure out what the hell your co-driver is bumbling on about.
As for the way the game looks, right now I can’t comment on that because my PC is terrible and has to have the game’s settings on low. However, with such a poor computer and the low settings, the game actually still handle’s really well and despite looking like a game from a decade ago, It was a wholly enjoyable experience so far. It was also nice to know that the game can run on slower, older machines, something I often worry about with much larger AAA titles.
Overall though the game has a really bright future and so far seems to be delivering on Codemaster’s promise for the definitive rally experience. There’s no longer obnoxious sponsors slapped everywhere, there’s no thumping drum n bass music, just you, your car and the open road. Oh and your co-driver telling you to turn this way and that. The cars feel more than a fancy looking box with wheels, they react more to the environment, they creak, whirr, and present a more realistic feel.
The cars, even though they’re not quite supercars, are still powerfull enough to give you the thrill of trying to skid around a particularly gravely corner hearing the ground move underneath you and dust the edge of the track. There’s the fear of making one slightly wrong move as you go a little too quickly in the corner, slamming on your brakes hoping you don’t go careering off of the edge of the cliff.
Anyone who’s a fan of rally driving and have been waiting for a more core focused racer without any gimmicks, DIRT Rally is definitely one to look forward to. And don’t let the Early Access moniker put you off, there’s a ton of content on there and a stable enough game to make you forget it’s an Early Access title. As for Codemasters, they’ve already updated the game a number of times since I’ve owned it proving that so far they’re making good on their promise.
Here’s hoping it’ll last.
DIRT Rally is currently available on PC via Steam’s Early Access program, it’s also likely to arrive on consoles too, but right now there’s no definitive word as to whether that’ll happen.