Get ready to rev up your engines as Codemasters is back again with a new entry in the DiRT franchise. Three years ago they released DiRT Rally and then followed it up with DiRT 4. Now they are headed back to the rally track again with DiRT Rally 2.0. Is this latest racing endeavor worthy of your time?
Let’s start by talking about he Career mode in DiRT Rally 2.0. My Career mode has up to six different rally championships to compete in. Each one will require you to look at what it entails and tune your car certain ways for the best chance of winning. Some events will require you to focus more on the performance of your vehicle while others may require more thought it how much damage your car can take. As you complete races you’ll earn money that can be spent on your crew to give you some bonuses as well as spend it on upgrading your cars. You can improve several different parts including brakes, engine and suspension. In terms of car numbers there are over 50 in the game in total to choose from.
This isn’t the type of racing game for everyone as the handling model is quite punishing. It’s extremely responsive and that means you can easily find yourself flying off course and into trees and handed a time penalty to top it off. Night time races are especially dangerous as if you damage your headlights you’ll be forced to finish the race in darkness. You really have to be on your game on these tracks as they are very narrow and it’s so easy to lose control and mess up. The AI in the game is also challenging and won’t pull any punches in potentially running you off the road. If you mess up there is no rewind function either as the game instead gives you a finite number of restarts. With all that said, when you are cruising along and nailing these tracks the feeling you get is exhilarating.
While the controls are challenging the game offers a ton of options to tune to help you adjust things a bit more to your skill level though. Things like traction, stability control, and more are there to help make things easier for the more rookie drivers. The more hardcore players can opt for turning all of the assists off as well as enabling a more challenging damage model for their vehicles.
The game has a variety of courses all based on real world locations including Poland, Spain, Australia, New England, the USA and more. Each track was fun to learn and the in-game weather keeps things varied. Tracks can degrade which puts more on you to compensate and adjust your play style in order to come out on top in these events.
When it comes to the online modes though there isn’t much here to choose from currently. Right now you can search or set up championships for up to eight players to take part in but that’s it. There are challenges that change daily and weekly for you to engage with as well as leaderboards where you can try to beat other player’s times. Now something I want to mention about DiRT Rally 2.0 that I really didn’t like is the fact that you have to be connected to RaceNet to play it. I’m not a fan of having to be always online in a game that has a single player mode. The game has been suffering from some server issues since launch although Codemasters has been working on improving the experience. Should the servers go down you’ll be unable to race and be kicked back to the main screen which happened to me several times. I just don’t see an excuse for this in a racing game that is primarily focused around the single player experience right now.
Playing the game on the Xbox One X, I was quite impressed with the visual fidelity on display. DiRT Rally 2.0 runs at a 4K resolution with HDR to boot. Everything in the environments whether it be the foliage to the sky to the muddied up tracks themselves looks fantastic. Every car model is rich with detail and the HDR really improves the lighting whether it’s the general lighting or the headlights of the cars. Even more importantly, it does all of this while maintaining a smooth framerate throughout. The audio here from the engine sounds to the co-driver call outs are great too just like in the first DiRT Rally. Your co-driver calls out upcoming directions of the track letting you know when to prepare for a turn, hill, or other change. Rally racing has its own terminology that you have to learn in order to understand what the co-driver is saying but if you’re playing this game you probably already are aware of it. If you aren’t then it’s yet another area that you’ll have to learn to really excel at this sport.
Codemasters shows once again that they know how to make great racing games with DiRT Rally 2.0. It’s easily one of the most visually pleasing racing titles on the market today especially running on the Xbox One X. This is rally racing so some unfamiliar folks might be off put by the difficulty but for those who know what they are jumping into you can’t do much better than this right now. Despite not having more content and some dodgy RaceNet servers, DiRT Rally 2.0 is worth taking a look at.
*DiRT Rally 2.0 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Reviewed on an Xbox One X. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
DiRT Rally 2.0$59.99
- Impressive visual quality across environments and car models
- Challenging but great vehicle handling
- Lots of courses to race on that degrade and feature weather
- Great car audio and co-driver call outs
- Short on different modes to play currently
- Connectivity issues with RaceNet prevent you from playing the game