Dirt Rally has finally made its way onto consoles and if you are a rally racing fan it was definitely worth the wait. There is a lot to keep you busy here whether you are racing solo or with a group of friends. Codemasters claims that it is the most authentic rally game out there and I have to agree. That authenticity brings with it a pretty high level of difficulty which might be offputting to some people but the really big racing fans should love it. The championships are fun to play whether you are racing in the pre-made events or creating your own. There is also asynchronous multiplayer here to see who can get the fastest time as well as some PvP if that is what you enjoy.
I started my playthrough of Dirt Rally going through the career/championships mode. I started with a Rally Open Championship where I had to go through a series of races. As I was racing through the wilderness I marveled at how pretty the game was as my car careened off the track and into the forest. Dirt Rally can be a very hard game, especially if you are a casual racing game fan. It can be unforgiving and you need to be paying attention at all times or that hairpin turn will sneak up on you and you will be frantically trying to whip your car around the turn at the last second while your tires are losing traction. The career mode features a number of different things you can do. There is the Rally Open Championship, Hillclimb Open Championship, Rallycross Open Championship and more.
In addition to those you can create custom championships with the aforementioned Rally, Hillclimb and Rallycross. If you choose to go down this route you can choose between one and six events in your championship. You will also have twelve stages to choose from to try and keep things fresh. Once you go through that you then pick the vehicle class you want to race in whether it be something from the 1960s, the 1980s, an F2 Kit Car, an R4 or a variety of other classes. Once you have that selected then you have a number of different options for the car itself. The more you race with a car the more experience you and your team will acquire which will translate into being able to upgrade and generally improve your car.
The cars in Dirt Rally can be a lot of fun to play but the development has given us some great courses to race on as well. There are courses in places such as Finland, Monte Carlo, Argolis, Sweden, Norway, the U.S. and more. There are also different conditions such as daytime racing, nighttime racing, raining, snowing and more that can have an effect on the track you are racing on. Sadly there isn’t any dynamic weather or anything like that in this game like there is in some of the other titles in this genre but all of the tracks look amazing and it can be a different experience racing in the daytime and then racing at night where the only things you can really see is the road ahead of you illuminated by your headlights.
Of course there is an online component as well where you can test yourself against other drivers around the world. The online events allow you to try and compete in timed events with other players across the world. There are daily, weekly and monthly events for you to participate in to try and keep things interesting. For some of these events you will need to “bring your own car” while other events you will be given an upgraded vehicle. Right after you sign on to their online service, RaceNet, you will be able to tell at a glance what is going on as well as how much longer until each event ends. I tried all of the different events and they all seemed to work out really well. I didn’t notice any lag during my races and the only problems I came across were self inflicted when I would accidentally turn left instead of turning right, as an example. The interesting thing here is that you don’t get unlimited chances. The Dirt Rally daily events, for example, are a one shot deal. You get one chance to put up a good time and if you fail to do so then you don’t get another shot at it. This adds another level of tension to the race as one wrong move can send you plummeting to the bottom of the leaderboard or off the track entirely. Once you complete a race your results will be uploaded to the leaderboard and you will see where you rank amongst all of the other drivers that have done the same event. These daily events are all about your level of skill. It is a level playing field with everyone having the same car, the same weather conditions, same track and, well, you get the point.
The weekly events that they offer feature four different stages and this is an instance where you will have to bring your own car with you. There will be different rules and guidelines set every week such as one week being only 1960s vehicles. The monthly events test your endurance as you have to complete 24 stages across every location in the game. Not only does this require some nice driving skills but you need to properly manage your team as well. Your car at some point will be in need of repairs so you will need a good service crew to make that happen quickly so you can stay competitive. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the longer events offer the greater rewards. The top tier in the daily event, for example, can earn up to 15,000 credits while the top tier in the monthly events can get up to 400,000 credits.
If you are someone that really enjoys the PvP aspect of multiplayer then that is here for you as well. There is a championship playlist that you can participate in where you will race head to head against other players around the world as well as the ability to create your own custom online championship. This is where you are in total control over the kind of championship you want to have with options such as being able to decide how many events are in the championship, the number of laps, the grid formation, whether you allow assists and much more. If you really aren’t in the mood to create something then you can search the championships for something you are looking for to see if you can find it or simply do a “quick join.” My experience with this mode was much like the other online mode in that it ran perfectly with no lag of any kind and me failing to get first place again.
Up above I briefly made mention of your team that you are going to need to count on in this game. You have a crew chief and then a bunch of engineers. You will need to determine which engineer is best for your team and look at what they have to offer. If you hire an engineer to a ten race contract, for example, but he doesn’t work out and you want to fire him after the fifth race, you can do that but you will have to eat the cost on the remainder of his contract. Engineers have a bunch of different skills and they can improve things like the body of the car, the gearbox, engine, exhaust, suspension and much more. If there is a particular part of your car that keeps getting banged up pretty badly then you can also hire an engineer with a high skill level for that particular part which will help you stay competitive in races in the long run. As engineers gain experience you will unlock different perks as well. There are a variety of options but they should all reduce the development time for upgrades on the cars that you own.
Dirt Rally can be a lot of fun to play but it can also be incredibly difficult, especially if you are more of a casual racing fan. There is quite a bit here for racing fans to enjoy and the online events that I talked about should keep you coming back for more on a regular basis. If you are a hardcore racing fan (and especially a big fan of the Dirt franchise) then I highly recommend this title. If you aren’t sure whether this game is your speed then I recommend renting it first to see what you think. It is absolutely worthy of a purchase though in my opinion and I can’t wait to see what the team over at Codemasters does next.