DiRT 4 | Review

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO! "Be Fearless" 

DIRT 4 brings the best from its predecessor, but not the harsh punishment.

Codemasters and Bandai Namco have joined forces once again to release Dirt 4, their 12th rally game in total and 6th instalment to the Dirt Series. Set for release on the 9th of June, the latest Dirt title aims to reach a broader gaming audience of casual race fans through to the hard core racing veterans of the gaming market and whilst there have been two Dirt titles released since Dirt 3 in 2011, Dirt Showdown and Dirt Rally, the ideas and gameplay behind those two titles have been brought together and blended to produce Dirt 4.

This is evident from the start as Dirt 4 presents you with the option of which difficulty setting you wish to use in the game through a choice of Gamer or Simulation style of gameplay. The Gamer control set up comes loaded with driving and handling assists turned up to maximum that provides a relaxing, more straightforward ride for casual racers to jump in and start winning. There is no wrestling with the wheel or shifting gears and a few mistakes here or there will not reflect on the overall standings. However, for the racing veterans of the gaming world or those looking for a challenge, the Simulation Mode has no assistance whatsoever. Much like Dirt Rally, Simulation Mode demands sharp and constant attention to the use of brakes, throttle control, shifting gears and at the same time fighting the steering wheel sliding through the corners. One small mistake is the difference to finishing on the podium or at the back of the pack. These options though can be tweaked and tuned allowing you to customise the handling setup to your own liking and degree of skill, as well as AI difficulty.

From here it’s off to gain the skills, and techniques needed to master Dirt 4 at the Dirt Academy. The DirtFish Rally School in Washington USA, which resembles a setting from one of Ken Blocks Gymkhanas, is where you’ll find all the tutorials you’ll need in order to get to grips with the different cars and how they handle, as well as different driving techniques. It’s a big step in the right direction compared to the tutorial videos found in Dirt Rally, and the Dirt Academy holds your hand by demonstrating how to drive the car before putting you in control to have a crack yourself.

Once you’ve had enough lessons, it’s time to get into the meat of the game. Dirt 4 Career Mode begins with you starting out accepting contracts to drive for teams in the minor leagues of Rally 2, and after some good performances, other rally categories begin to unlock and the prize money earned can be put towards buying your own cars and setting up your own racing enterprise, including painting your wheels with a select number of custom liveries and sponsors. This involves signing up mechanics, engineers, co-drivers as well as PR reps to market your brand and bring in sponsors. Any cash earned in your own team stays with the team, whereas if you just want to drive to be the best and forgo the management aspect of racing, other teams will make you offers to drive, but be warned they’ll want their cut of the cash earned. With upgrades available to your team headquarters, service areas and R&D development, you’ll need to constantly upgrade to improve upgrades to your cars in order to keep up with the competition.

With over 50 cars available in game, ranging from historic rally classics through to today’ Ford Fiesta R5, including the late Colin McRae’s Subaru WRX, and 5 Rally locations including Australia, there are countless different routes and challenges to be driven. Each location has different track surfaces from gravel, tarmac, snow and mud, each drives different and feels different at the wheel. The return of the stadium buggies and trucks adds in 3 more locations being Mexico, Nevada and California and this is great fun flying over jumps as well as powering through the sand covered tight corners in a stadium atmosphere. Whilst all this is great Dirt 4 is the official game of the FIA World Rallycross Championship and with it brings some of the iconic locations of the series, as well as the RX Supercars. All come with the authentic livery, sound and speed of their real world counterparts. These RX Supercars (which have around twice the horsepower of current WRC cars) accelerate like a rocket, squat low on their springs and are really fun to handle. Races can be played as part of your career or online in multiplayer races. Not only are their online race modes, but each track and stage has Leaderboards to see who is the quickest as well as Laptime and Smash challenges to fight it out amongst friends.

Dirt 4 is arguably one of the best rally games, and if not one of the best racing games developed by Codemasters. Whilst it may look lean on the surface there is plenty on offer under the bonnet and that it’s accessible to all gamers no matter what driving skills you possess, Dirt 4 has a variety that will keep you coming back for more and more. The physics that impressed in Dirt Rally have been tweaked and built upon which is evident through improved aerodynamics, weight distribution as well seeing and feeling the difference in each car and discipline of rally driving. There is also that familiar voice of Nicky Grist as your co-driver. The only element that Dirt 4 has lacking is VR support that Dirt Rally recently received, but hopefully this will be available at some point in the near future.

Overall Dirt 4 is a great instalment to the series, and a great rally game that contains a lot of new elements, but builds upon the past, providing a few nods to old Colin McRae Rally games of old.

Initial release date: 9th of June 2017
Platform: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Genre: Driving / Racing 
Developers: Codemasters
Publishers: Bandi Namco

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