Name: DiRT Rally 2.0
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose
After years of releasing rally games under the name Colin Mcrae series, which spawned the Colin Mcrae: DiRT series. Codemasters made some of the best and funny rally games being released back in the late 2000s, but after a while, the name Colin Mcrae was dropped from the title with the passing of the real-life driver. So when DiRT 3 arrived as the name changed, also the gameplay focus changed. From being a rally franchise focusing on hardcore rally experience, the focus was more in fun and approachable rally with a mix of drifting and show. Fast forward to 2015 Codemasters released DiRT Rally, which once again focused on giving us players hardcore rally gameplay. Sticking to the keyword realism and took back the crown as one of the best franchises for those who love rally. It got praised for its physics and true to nature gameplay. But also containing the FIA WRC license giving us rallycross and also pikes peak. It was a brutal game for casual players, which made it hard to get into. So with the release of DiRT Rally 2.0, does it have what it takes to please fans and also be approachable for casual players?
Like its predecessor, the campaign is as straightforward as you can get it, you choose a car in one class and drive through championships. Slowly working or rather winning your way up the ladder, winning cash to upgrade your garage and team. This might sound really shallow on paper, but trust me, it will take time to finish. A championship takes you through several countries with stages in different variations. The tracks by itself can feel and look repetitive since many of them is shorten stages that you drive separately. But throw in weather effects and time of day, and suddenly they feel completely different. If you want a break from the rally part, you can head into the games rallycross section. With the official PIA WRC license, complete with drivers, cars, and tracks from real life.
How to proceed it’s basically the same, but in rallycross, you drive in heats with semi and finals. What makes all this don’t feel repetitive and empty? Simply explained is how immersed you are in the actual driving. To proceed might be easy to understand, but to actually win through stages and end up on pole positions to take part in the next championship depends. Here comes that realism, that both helps with that immersion and annoyance. I’ve crashed mid “season” that made it impossible to get back on top, also there were situations where my car was too banged up to fix since I was all out of money. This is situations that change how you play, it made me more cautious about how I drive and treat my car. These are the more extreme examples, but there is some stuff that makes you think the same way. Before you start you have the service area, where you manage your car’s setup and parts. There you have to plan ahead for 2-3 stages, how you want your car to be set up. Then back to the point, you can only fix your car during these services. So if you mess up your light, or destroy parts that are key to be able to drive like a champ. You still have to drag that pile of junk through the rest of the stages or retire, ending at the bottom.
Everything considered I’m pleased with what we got, it is everything it aims to be nothing more, nothing less
To say that it’s a major update from DiRT Rally would be overreacting. But DiRT Rally looks really good, and there have been made some improvements. But rather than a huge update in textures and details, environmental effects have been improved in many ways. Gravel dust and tire smoke look so much better, at times there is impossible to see anything ahead when behind other cars and dust flies everywhere. Wet tracks with mud splashes over the car, tire tracks fills with water. This is some of the features that make it look a bit better and with the lighting effects, it takes it to the next level. But what I thought about the most when reviewing this, when do you actually have time to take a good look at the graphics? Since usually I’m driving over 100 km/t, so most of the time you only see the splash of colors passing by. Only watching the road, to keep me on the trail. It runs smooth and with the range, there are graphics options you can really customize what you will prioritize to get the smoothest framerate.
Then there is the sound, that is SO GOOD It’s deep and satisfying. Engines, exhaust, tires, and surfaces that sounds like music to my ears. (yes, I’m a rev-head) If not having a great sound system, at least do you a favor and use a headset it just tops of the experience.
Bonus fact: Phil Mills provides the voice as your co-driver, which was Petter Solberg’s co-driver when he became world champion in 2003. (GO NORWAY!)
Learning by doing is the first I can think of when thinking about DiRT Rally 2.0. While DiRT 4 had “DiRT Acadamy” with tutorials on how to drive and a huge area to test your car on different surfaces. While in DiRT Rally you had instructional videos, In DiRT Rally 2.0 you have nothing. So if you never have played a rally game, you will have to find out yourself how to play and what your co-driver says means. But when it comes to DiRT Rally 2.0 they do actually aim to deliver a realistic rally game, and unless you know anything at all about ‘Rally’ you will struggle to find the most entertainment with it. But this doesn’t make it any easier for newcomers to jump in and play. But how is it to actually to play? It’s simply AWESOME and in detail AMAZING. ‘Rally’ must be some of the most intense things you can get in a racing game, with the fight against the clock, but mostly about surviving the track. It’s all about driving faster than it’s safe to do on narrow roads, usually not seeing more than a few meters ahead. It’s a test of reflexes and shows what these monsters of a car are capable of.
Placement of car, steering and throttle control is the key and following the pace notes. It might be chaotic but it is so satisfying when you nail a stage. DiRT Rally 2.0 is different from its predecessor as it is more approachable, don’t get me wrong it can be brutal. But not by far how painful and at times unfair DiRT Rally could be, with its time penalties and track edges that either made you spin when hit or fly to oblivion.
Also, the AI is more customizable when it comes to the difficulty, with a slider to choose how good they will be. At the bottom, you can still win even with one or two big mistakes made, but the higher you choose the more it demands of you. Then it is not only about finishing but pushing your driving to the extreme to get the best time. Then back to the ‘Rallycross’ section, while the main goal is to come in first place with up to five others on a circuit. You win by lap time, you need to have the best lap time to win. When it comes to driving, ‘Rallycross’ is about the same. But rather than navigating through narrow woods, you use the same skills in an open circuit where sliding through corners is your best strategy. Mix that with the company of five others and you get that chaos that is ‘Rallycross’.
I have tested DiRT Rally 2.0 in many different ways, and with different controllers or rather different ways to control. I’ve played with a keyboard, gamepad and two sets of steering wheels with completely different price ranges.
I’ve only played a stage or two with a keyboard since it isn’t my preferred controller in a car game. I must start with saying, that I was positively surprised how well it played with a keyboard, it felt kinda floaty and you will have to press the buttons like crazy but it was still playable. Then there was the gamepad, I used an Xbox One controller and that is the most preferred way to play if you own one. So if you are going to play on PC I would recommend using a controller, it makes everything tighter and much more enjoyable. When it comes to the tuning of the cars, I often didn’t feel it necessary to change much to manage to drive on the different surfaces, and cars aren’t as twitchy or prompt to understeer during low speed as previous. It saved me from hours of looking on the internet for the “best setup” and rather just tweak it to my liking. There was one thing that didn’t feel as great, and that is the tarmac since it was too slippery at times. We all know that wet tarmac can be slippery, but not like soap slippery. I would spin out, understeer like crazy or have a lot of grips one second then no traction the next. It wasn’t as noticeable during the ‘Rallycross’ section, but tarmac stages in ‘Rally’ could be brutal.
Then there is the game changer, playing with a steering wheel. I used a Logitech G29 with gear shifter add-on, and boy that changed the game for me. For many, it comes as a no brainer to play ‘Rally’ games with a wheel. With the realistic focus, it would make sense, that it feels so good to play with one. I only had to reduce the force feedback, since at times I were afraid to break a finger in corners and used the wheel like crazy. It completely changed my driving style, not that I got any better per se but how I drove and how the car behaved. I felt more in control and more immersed in the experience. So if you own a wheel this is a perfect game to use it in, I think I dare to say that it’s worth its money to invest in a steering wheel to play DiRT.
DiRT Rally 2.0 have hours of content, but not as much variation in what you can do. But there is possible to say “quality vs quantity” and I think that is the case here. The best part is if the only thing you want to do is to pick any car you like and drive, you can do that from the start in free play. So there is no need to spend time on things to unlock your favorite car if you only care to drive them straight away. So there is the ‘Rally’ and ‘Rallycross’ campaign, that gives you many hours. Then there are the daily and weekly challenges that you can spend time on, that changes well, daily and weekly of course. Then if you want to spend some time getting to know the history of the cars, you have the historic rally. Where you will drive all the cars through history, to get a feel of how they have changed through the years. If you feel especially good, you can also race against the world trying to set the best laps or drive rallycross with others.
Campaign - 8/10
Graphics - 9/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Controls - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
DiRT Rally 2.0 has been a blast to play, giving me more of the gameplay I want in a ‘Rally’ game. Codemasters have done a great job, getting the DiRT series back to its roots that will please a lot of people. I think it’s one of the greatest ‘Rally’ simulators we have gotten in recent times. It might be difficult to get good in, but every time something goes well it feels so satisfying. ‘Rallycross’ is also great and completes the package. It might not be a game everyone can pick up and play with confidence but is so rewarding if spent a good amount of time with.
- Great gameplay
- Looks good
- Awesome sound
- No tutorial
- Tarmac physics
- No Subaru Impreza 2001 (yet)