It wouldn’t be a fall gaming season if we didn’t get at least one new racing game to sink our teeth into and that game this year is DIRT 5 from developer Codemasters. This series has certainly gone some places over the recent years as titles like DIRT 3 and DIRT Rally have deviated from what some enjoyed about the original DIRT. DIRT 5 gets us back closer to that but mixes in some stuff that gave me the fun feeling that I had when I was playing the Motorstorm franchise. Suffice to say that if you are a fan of arcade racing games then DIRT 5 has you covered.
DIRT 5 has a ton of content to fuel your desire to race but let’s start with the Career mode. In this mode you race through a variety of events to become the best racer in the world. Every section consists of multiple races and finishing in the top spots allows you to unlock more. There is a variety of event types such as point-to-point races, off road events, Gymkhana arena matches, and more so I never grew bored of having to do the same types over and over. What’s also nice is that you don’t have to complete them all to proceed so if you aren’t enjoying one maybe just decide to skip it instead. The more of them you complete though and the higher in the placements you finish the more XP and cash you’ll earn which in turn lets you buy more cars and items to customize them with.
The is a good amount of variety in the car selection and all of them control very well. I played through it with the Dualshock 4 using the default controls but there are different options you can go in and tweak if something doesn’t feel quite right to you. Speeding down courses and drifting around corners felt responsive and really smooth so I have no complaints there. Cars are separated by groups like Rally Cross, Rally GT, Super Lites, and more and you’ll enjoy being in control of ones like the Ford Mustang GT Fastback Rally, the Ford RS200 and many, many more.
One of the things I was most excited about going into the Career mode was seeing how well the narrative was told since the team brought on renowned voice actors Nolan North and Troy Baker. Both of them deliver great performances as always alongside some other fun characters from Donut Media who run the DIRT podcast that you’ll be listening to while on the menus. The story wasn’t anything special but these characters just make it fun to listen to which fits right in with how fun everything else in this game is.
The tracks in the game are also worth mentioning for how different they can feel to race on. There are 10 different locations with 70 different routes between them and when you factor in different times of day and weather conditions things can feel pretty varied. Every surface feels different to race on and when you start adding in rain and snow, you’ll have to adjust to it sometimes on the fly. That’s because races don’t just have one weather condition but can sometimes have more which can affect the track as you race.
Other modes in the game include the Arcade mode which lets you play solo or up to four friends in split-screen which is really nice as we don’t get enough local multiplayer racing games anymore. You can also play through the Career mode in up to four players as well which I didn’t mention earlier. You can dive into any race in Arcade mode or take on time trials. Then there is the online multiplayer which supports up to 12 players. You can do the standard race types with them or dive into one of the party modes like Vampire, King, or Transporter. I’m very excited to try these modes but in a pre-release state it’s hard to find anyone online to test them out. I’ll come back and update this review with my thoughts on the online after it launches.
Playgrounds mode lets you get in there and use your imagination to create your own courses, play them, and then share them with the world. There are all kinds of fun objects you can use to create these but I’m less of the creative type and more of the playing type. Because of that I’m looking forward to seeing what the community creates when they get their hands on the game starting this Friday. The last feature I’ll talk about is the Photo mode which works well and should please those who like to use that feature.
The visuals in DIRT 5 may not come across as the best we’ve seen this generation but it looks really good regardless. Every location I raced through looked really good whether it was Mount Everest, the deserts of Arizona, the bamboo forests of China, or under the northern lights of Norway. The lighting system really makes these locations come alive and the weather effects are outstanding. Every car has plenty of detail in it as well even as they are getting dirtied up by the elements. Load screens pop up quite often though and it made me wish I was playing the PS5 version already so that hopefully they won’t be a thing. I already touched on the voice acting but the rest of the audio package is great too whether that be how different each of the cars sounds or the fun licensed soundtrack the team put together for this game. Those interested in the trophies will find a small list here with 21 in total including a Platinum. For a racing game it’s a pretty easy list too so you shouldn’t have any problem earning them all if that’s your thing.
I have to say that DIRT 5 is a must play for any fan of fun arcade racing games. Those are the types of racing games I enjoy the most as I don’t get near as much fun out of simulation types. DIRT 5 reminds me of games like Motorstorm where you’re just racing through colorful off-road environments, kicking up dirt, and going off jumps. It’s not the prettiest racing game of this generation but with a wide variety of modes to play, plenty of cars to take control of, and a great audio package DIRT 5 has just about everything that a fun-loving racing fan could ask for.
*DIRT 5 launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 6, November 10 on Xbox Series, and November 12 on PlayStation 5. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Excellent arcade racing with a large car list all of which handle really well
- Deep Career mode and numerous other fun modes to play
- Music, voice acting, and sound effects quality is top notch
- Locations, cars and weather effects all look great
- Most modes can be played in local or online multiplayer
- Frequent load times
- While it looks really good we've seen better looking racing games this generation