In a nutshell, DiRT Rally is a triumph.  Coming from someone that has loved and been playing the original Colin McRae Rally game since the PlayStation 1 from 1998.  Developers Codemasters have been developing the game since the very beginning and their love for the series truly shows once more in its latest outing.  The original Colin McRae game was as hard as nails, forcing you to grow accustom to its unforgiving, yet rewarding gameplay.  Yet when the series was re-branded with the DiRT series in 2007, many felt that this was the start when the series moved away from its simulator-like gameplay and edged towards being more of an arcade racer.  Yes, ok, I know the DiRT series did feature both circuit and rally races, but it was never quite the same as its original form.

So why do I brand 2016’s DiRT Rally as a triumph?  Well, for starters, even though this doesn’t share the Colin McRae name (God rest his soul), this is every bit the Colin McRae Rally that many have longed for.  The unforgiving gameplay has returned and if you’re anything like me, you’ll consider throwing in the towel early on.  I’ll be honest, while I love the series, I’m not all that skilled at the game in comparison to others.  But there’s an addictive nature about its gameplay that urges you to get better and when you finally finish in the top 3 of your first championship (on my 3rd attempt), it feels as rewarding as no other game that I can describe within its genre.

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It has that “one more go vibe” as you desperately attempt to that shave those few precious seconds off your run, but when you finally get there, you feel triumphant in your success.  Much like the original series, DiRT Rally will not hold your hand.  You will spin, rattle, roll and right-off your car more than you’d want too, but that’s the risk you must take in this game.  There is no option to rewind your failures, instead you must either suck it up or hit the restart button, which consequently dips into your cash reward pot.  But as you brace with the game and listen to every word your co-driver has to say, you’ll soon notice your improvement and it’s here when you start to get the DiRT Rally bug.

If I was going to have one minor criticism with the game, it would be in the form of the in-game tutorials.  With a game as unforgiving as this one, it would have perhaps have been handy to have some kind of driving license school as you would find in the Gran Turismo series.  However, in DiRT Rally, your only form of tutorial is in the form of watching videos.  They are better than nothing I guess, but I believe it would have been more beneficial being able to play the tutorials, rather than just watching them.

It’s not just how well that DiRT Rally plays that makes it a success, as the way in which it looks and sounds are equally as fantastic.  Despite being tied down to the Rally discipline, the game is more varied then you might think.  Various championships both offline and online will keep you busy for however long you wish it too, and through these championships you’ll visit dynamic locations from Sweden, Great Britain, USA and more.  Each location and race-type forcing you to adapt to a new climate and conditions.  You also have a wide range of Rally cars to choose from, from 1960 classics, right on through to modern day beasts.  Every one of these cars feels unique from the last, which will require you to adjust to its handling, braking and speed.  What’s more, is that DiRT Rally is officially licensed with the FIA World Rallycross Championship which adds further authenticity.

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There is also something quite therapeutic about how each car sounds, whether it’s the sound of your beaten-up Mini Cooper fighting its way to the finish line or the kick of the Peugeot 208 WRX as the screech, brake and pop as you power your way out of the corner.  Just like much else in DiRT Rally, Codemasters have done a sublime job with its audio, something that all racing fans will surely appreciate.

DiRT Rally might not be for everyone with its steep learning curve, but if you stick with it, you’ll find it to be one of the most fulfilling, authentic and rewarding racers that you will likely ever play.  At the start on my review I labelled the game as a “triumph” and no word can describe the return to form for this beloved series any better than that, as it is most certainly well worth the wait.  This is not only the best Rally game that you might ever play, but I doubt very much that you’ll play a better racer this year.  With the spirit of the late, great Colin McRae, DiRT Rally is back and is a triumph in every sense of the word!



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake