DiRT 4 is an excellent rally title that gives experts and novices a chance to flourish.
I’ve always been a fan of rally games, all the way back to 1998 when the first Colin McCrae racing games out on the PlayStation. Fast forward nearly 20 years later and that hasn’t changed.
DiRT 4 feels more like a feature-heavy version of last years DiRT Rally than a newer version of DiRT 3, there is no gymkhana this year, although the Joyride mode in the game at least adds a bit of fun to the game through the various challenges.
Starting at the DiRT Academy, you’ll be given tutorials on various driving techniques to ensure you get the most from your races. You’ll learn how to deal with different types of cars and what to expect in terms of grip on different surfaces. There is no pass or fail from the Academy but the more you make the effort to understand the principles the more likely you are not to end up in a ditch on your roof…
The main part of the game is the Career mode, where you will take part in the different disciplines, Rally, Rallycross, Supercross and Classic Rallies. To unlock the later events you will have to complete a set amount of events, but it really doesn’t take very long. As well as the racing itself you will get the chance to create and manage your own team.
You’ll get to choose your team name, livery and staff. Over time, as you gain more experience through winning events you’ll have access to more qualified staff, and in turn better parts for your cars. Sponsorship of your team also plays a part, your sponsor will set you challenges that reward you with more experience points. the more you get and the higher your rank, the better staff, equipment and sponsors you’ll have access to.
Unlike DRT Rally, DiRT 4 caters for the casual racer just as much as the hardcore ones. Early on in the game, you get to specify which sort of challenge you are looking for, if you choose the simpler option you’ll notice how much more you can get away with while racing, whereas if you choose to race in simulation your mistakes will be punished. Having played lots of DiRT rally you can really notice some of the improvements to the simulation, the suspension, you can really notice the difference in each car, more so when playing Land Rush with the buggies. It’s quite an experience racing them from the driver’s view, even with support from your spotters telling you where your opponents are coming from.
I love the authenticity of DiRT 4, Codemasters sealed the return of Nicky Grist as co-driver, his calming tones are a real help during the trickier stages of rallies. This is particularly important when dealing with racing on the different surfaces, you’ll have the unpredictability of gravel, compared to the fierce grip on tarmac all while you are having to contend with huge downpours of rain, thick fog or even the dirt in front of you doing its best to restrict your visibility. Your co-driver becomes your eyes and you really need to trust what they say.
Before each stage, you get a proper overview of what to expect, the weather can change from one stage to the next and you’ll also get warnings of crashes or incidents ahead of you. You’ll also spend time in the garage, tuning your vehicle for the next stage, making repairs if needed (I always needed them) or viewing the leaderboards so you know where you stand. At the end of every stage, you are expected to slow right down and head towards the Marshall to end the stage correctly, it was a bit weird at first but those last few seconds are a great way to just compose yourself after the past 5-6 minutes of information being crammed into your brain by your co-driver.
It’s a shame there aren’t more locations in DiRT 4, it would have been nice to see the locations from DiRT rally transferred over to this game. To make up for the lack of locations though, Codemasters have introduced Your Stage, a course generator that creates limitless possibilities in terms of your races. Using sliders to determine course length, course complexity as well as time and weather conditions – the game will build you stages to take on. It’s great to be able to create stages, then share them with friends before being able to check leaderboards to create some real competition between you and your friends.
I really enjoyed DiRT 4 – it’s the most serious of the four titles, and I sort of miss the recklessness of the previous titles, but makes up for that by letting us all feel like rally champions.