Games: DiRT 4
Consoles: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
After racing through the wildlands of Austrailia my car looked like it went through a war zone. One of my wheels had a flat, the front was dented in, and I am pretty sure the trunk of my car shouldn’t have been wide open. Thankfully, I made it into the first place slot and was afforded the luxury of repairing my ride for the next chaotic race. This is DiRT 4, an uncompromising racing game that challenges players to navigate treacherous roads, challenging races, and drive a plethora of vehicles. Even though this title sports a rather steep learning curve, the end result is an entertaining game that delivers some truly thrilling moments.
DiRT 4 feels like a mix between arcade racers and ones that aim for a more realistic approach to their driving. This allows DiRT 4 to feel both accessible and challenging to new and veteran players, with the four primary event types all having an old school mentality to their design. Yet, developer Codemasters implemented a deep and rewarding driving system that forces players to manage things such as shifting weight, spinning out in a turn, and even the various road types they will encounter.
Most of this is explained in the tutorial section which feels robust, but actually lacks proper instruction for a lot of its sections. Instead of letting the player know if they’ve completed a skill successfully, the game just provides a video and sets you loose on a training course to figure it out. While you can repeat these courses as many times as possible, it would be nice if DiRT 4 actually informed the player if they successfully completed the move in question. This may seem like a trivial issue, but the later tracks are infinitely more difficult and require near precision movements in order to succeed.
Almost all of DiRT 4’s tracks are wonderfully designed with multiple races taking place across unique locations like the Austrailian Outback, Michigan’s forests, or the mountains of Sweeden. Despite some of the tracks blending together after awhile, there is enough variety in their layouts that doesn’t make DiRT feel repetitive. There is also fantastic lighting and weather effects on display in almost every level, allowing for some of the best looking races of this generation. Sadly, the more lap based courses found in the Rally Cross and Land Rush are uninspired which is a shame given the fantastic locations available for each race. This wouldn’t be an issue if DiRT 4’s Rally and Historic Rally tracks weren’t so memorable and unique compared to the rest of the game.
However, no racing game is complete without a nice selection of cars and Codemasters have done a fine job including a nice assortment of rides. Spanning from the 60s to the modern era there are a lot of different vehicles to experiment with and fine-tune. Each car, buggy, or truck comes with their own unique limitations that constantly challenges the player’s mastery of the various driving techniques available. While some are limited to certain events, DiRT 4 never felt like it was forcing me to only focus on using one type of car, which allowed for more experimentation when it came to tough race
Almost all of your rides are customizable and there is even a nice layer of strategy added when it comes to repairs. Instead of fixing your car after every race, players are limited to how many repairs they can perform an event. Given any event contains around 3 to 5 different races on average, this makes it critical that you try to minimize as much damage to your ride as possible. It’s a nice addition to the core mechanics and allows for a deeper immersion into this title.
Yet that immersion breaks when it comes to actually managing your team and home base known as the DiRT Academy. Players are able to hire various engineers, spotters, or specialized roles, but the game never builds upon this. Unless you are crashing your car a lot or playing on the hardest difficulty, it’s rare that you’ll ever need to make the most of their buffs to your repair speed/effectiveness. There was an opportunity to dive deeper into the relationship a driver forms with his team, but this just feels glossed over in the final product.
DiRT 4 also sports a rather large multiplayer component that allows users to customize and tweak various options including AI, difficulty settings, the vehicle of choice, and even style of driving. This gives players the ability to join sessions that not only fit their skill level, but the preferred method of driving. During my time online with DiRT 4 I experienced no sever or matchmaking issues, with the only notable bug being the green lights that indicated a race starting never leaving my screen.
There’s a lot to love about DiRT 4, as it sports impressive visuals, memorable tracks, and fantastic customization options for your vehicles. Knowing when to repair your car adds a nice depth to this title along with the various moves and tricks you’ll need to know. Even though some of the Rally Cross and Land Rush tracks lack the charm of the more rural levels, this is not enough to dimish how much fun this game is. While there is a rather steep learning curve that new players will need to deal with, DiRT 4 is an exceptionally well-made game that’s just a blast to play.
- Deep driving mechanics
- Great selection of vehicles
- Solid multiplayer
- Nice layer of strategy
- Rally and Historic Rally racetracks
- Team management underwhelming
- Rallycross and Landrush tracks blend together