DiRT Rally 2.0 is the Dark Souls of driving games. I’m trying to make time up in the fourth stage of an historic rally in the middle of Wales. I’m doing well, the tyres feel like they are sticking to the tarmac and I’ve hit a really quick section with lots of minor turns, I approach the final turn that is a bit tighter and don’t quite nail the apex so I slide out and catch a barrier at the worst angle possible. After what feels like 20 rolls I come to a standstill about 100 metres from the finish, I’m missing my front right tyre and the stage is over. One small mistake and I’ve got to start again, I’m distraught but I love it, second time round I nail that final corner and I win the stage.
I shouldn’t be surprised about how small the margins are between finishing and totalling your car, it was much the same with the first DiRT Rally. If you are used to more arcade you titles like Forza Horizon, you are going to have to show some patience with this, learn the tracks and understand what your car is capable of and be prepared to try and try again.
DiRT Rally 2.0 takes you on a historic rally journey, you’ll begin in the 1960’s where you’ll race the classic Mini Cooper before making your way to the 80’s where you’ll be missing with Sierra Cosworths and Auto Quattros, eventually you’ll make your way up through the Modern Classics before eventually making your way to the present day.
You’ll race in all over the world, from Argentina to Australia and New Zealand, from the USA to Sweden, each cone with their own unique challenges. The first thing you will notice when starting out in the game is the overhaul in the graphics, it looks great. The cars themselves all look great and the rally venues look superb. Whether you are racing through the rain on the smooth asphalt in Poland to the heavy gravel in Argentina you will notice all sorts of details around you as you try to take on the various twists and turns. I like to play the game from the view of the driver so you can really see the way the different surfaces vary while you are racing. If for example you get to start a rally first, you’ll notice the stage you are racing on is in pretty good pc dit on, however starting further down the roster will present you with a stage that is quite beaten up and it will affect how you car handles.
Being able to adjust the difficulty of your opponents between stages is a nice touch, especially at the beginning when you are trying to work out what level you are at, I often found myself on the cusp of easy/medium but always pushed the difficulty up a little extra to push me to do better. I always had ‘Hardcore Damage’ enabled however and you will notice how much of a difference that makes. I often fell victim to a puncture mid-stage which had a big impact on my times. You can also enable random events, which could see anything from your car failing to having to avoid a broken down opponent mid-stage.
I learnt quickly that I couldn’t just hope that braking at the right time would be enough to get me round in one piece, I had to rely on how the car felt on the track, the vibrations in the controller really helped with that and I imagine playing with a steering wheel and pedals would make a big difference too. It’s vitally important you listen to your co-driver too who is constantly feeding you information about what is coming your way, it’s a little overwhelming at times, even with the info displaying on the screen at the same time, you really need to concentrate and it can be quite exhausting at times. However finishing a rally in one piece is a hugely satisfying experience.
DiRT Rally 2.0 also comes with officially licensed FIA Rallycross content this year which gives players a different style of driving to experience. To do those who have never played this mode, it’s essentially racing round a small track against other drivers, but each one must race a ‘Joker’ lap which sends you on a slightly longer route, which can make a big difference to the result of race.
Rallycross is a completely different racing experience, the drivers are lot more aggressive when fighting for position and the cars handled differently too, there is no room to cut corners here either, missing a joker lap will give you a big time penalty and cutting corners will see you lose time and position too, despite the extra rules it’s an exciting event to race in.
This year you can also create your own custom championships which can have a mix of rally and Rallycross events, it’s a good way to mix things up and you create some exciting events that will see you race across the world.
In the MyTeam section you can embark on a career in Rallying or Rallycross, buying new cars and employing staff in order to be the best. There are lots of community events to take part in, with Daily and Weekly challenges putting you against your fellow or racers, or if you prefer you can go up against AI opponents.
Fans of the original DiRT Rally will have no hesitation in picking up 2.0, the graphical and audio improvements alone are enough to justify a purchase and with the added Rallycross content, players will have a new discipline to master. New players will also enjoy the challenge that game brings you, just try not break any controllers ok?