This review of Dirt Rally 2.0 was conducted using a review code sent to us by the game’s PR agency. This is explained for the purpose of transparency and doesn’t affect my judgement of the game in any way.
Racing games are something that have always been a love of mine, but one that I never pursued for reasons unknown. I bought some racing games, interspersed in the slew of other games I was playing. Driveclub (which i enjoyed despite many people’s apparent hate for it), one or two of the PGR games to name a few. Those didn’t feel the void, didn’t quench my thirst. GT Sport came close, very close. It actually consumed my life for a week or two. But then along came DiRT Rally 2.0. I was unsure about the game to begin with. I had never played a rally driving game before, but the preview event I attended had me interested.
DiRT Rally 2.0 offers a range of game modes for you to choose from. I began by playing the career mode, my logic being that this would ease me in to the mechanics and get me used to the driving. To be fair, it did get me used to driving. Mostly driving my car off the side of a cliff, but gradually I learned to handle the car. There is a learning curve to this game, which came from a combination of me being new to rally games and the level of detail put into DiRT Rally 2.0 by the team at Codemasters. More on this later.
The career mode is the best way for those looking to dip their toes into the world of rally, as well as seasoned vets who wish to tackle real life rally courses from the comfort of their sofa. You may begin comfy, but I promise you that after a few minutes you will be on the edge of your sofa, adamant that you are finally going to “nail that one corner”. The career mode also offers the ability to hire staff, such as a co-driver and engineers.
These are used for things such as research for tuning your vehicle, and the ability to change a wheel (no joke, your co-driver has a score on how well he can change a wheel and you can upgrade it). In all honesty though, it all feels a tad redundant. I never felt as if the staff were doing much, not really adding anything to my experience in the career mode.
After a while, I admit I got a bit cocky and decided to take on the other modes in DiRT Rally 2.0. The game also offers a Historic Mode, in which you race in classic cars on classic courses. Something about this feels much more, pure I suppose is the right word. The cars from the years gone don’t have the fancy features that more modern rally cars have. You start off in cars which were mostly stock, and work your way through to modern vehicles. It’s a very good way of slowly getting better at the game. A very enjoyable mode, and a good one for those of you like me who are new to rally.
Then there’s the FIA Rallycross Championship, and this mode does not fuck around at all. I’m not gunna mince my words, this championship will eat you up and spit you out if you don’t know what you’re doing; and I most certainly didn’t know what I was doing. Placing well in a few rounds of career, does not mean you are ready to race in a 520BHP monster. Attempt this mode because it is fun, and if you like rallycross go back and compete in the rallycross career. Then come back to the FIA Championship.
In terms of the actual driving experience, well that’s the most important part of a driving game right? It can look beautiful, which DiRT Rally 2.0 does, and nail the audio, which again it does, but if the experience isn’t right? It disappoints you. Very much like when the food at your restaurant sounds great on paper, but looks like a hot mess when the waiter places it in front of you. Will you eat it? Of course, you’re hungry. But you won’t enjoy it. Luckily, DiRT Rally 2.0 does not disappoint, this is one meal that delivers it’s promises.
Firstly, while driving you feel like you’re driving. I don’t just mean you are aware that you are driving in a game. You genuinely feel as if you are there, co-driver speaking calls into your ear. As a side note, these are vital. Learn what the instructions mean, and when they say “don’t cut”, they mean it. Then there’s the sound of the engine, and the gravel, and everything else that’s going on. However, there is more to it than that.
DiRT Rally 2.0 has a surface degradation system in place. This means that as more cars drive over a surface, it degrades. It becomes looser, harder to drive on. You can literally feel it. It’s hard to explain without playing it, but you feel the back end of the car shift more than you thought it would. You feel the wheels lose traction and have to adapt. Accelerate less harshly, turn less sharply. All of this adds together taking you off of your sofa, your gaming car, your whatever and placing you in that driver’s seat.
Then there is the tuning system. Before each race, you have the option to tune your vehicle. Codemasters have gone incredibly in-depth with the level of tuning that is available. You can adjust alignment, brakes, differential, springs, everything. It goes even more in depth. You can modify the brakes so that you brake softer at the front or back, depending what you think you need. Change the angle of the tyres, to improve stability or your turn in, whichever you prefer. You can even modify the ratios of your gears. Your car is literally your car, set up how you want it for each event. It’s levels of detail like this that add to the experience of DiRT Rally 2.0, but the game isn’t without it’s faults.
My one major fault, and this is entirely based on me being new to the rally racing genre of games, is the lack of a genuine tutorial. While the career mode, and the Historic Mode, can be used to ease new players into the world of rally I can’t help but feel it would’ve been nice to have an optional tutorial to assist in that process. Then veteran players can jump straight in, and use new players can pick things up.
Eventually you learn what each instruction from your co-driver means, but this takes quite a bit of trial and error. This was very off putting to me in the early stages of my time with the game, and had I not have been playing this game for a review I may well of never touched the game again. If you wish to play this game, just keep in mind that there is a LOT to take in.
Other than that, I really cannot fault this game. It is beautiful, and amazing. It is fun to play, once you learn to play it, and as a new player I did eventually feel myself slowly becoming better. I got a huge sense of achievement from that, and I am happy that I stuck with DiRT Rally 2.0. The level of detail is something I have never seen before, every possible thing was considered to make this the most authentic racing experience I think I have ever had. For those of you who are rally fans, or who are even looking to get into rally, I cannot recommend this game enough. An absolute must have.
DiRT Rally 2.0 is undoubtedly one of the best driving games in existence, and is easily the best driving game on the market as of writing. The lack of a tutorial is a bit disappointing, and off-putting as a newcomer to the genre. However it is easy to look past this due to the sheer level of detail and experience that DiRT Rally 2.0 has to offer.