Are you ready for the sheer exhiliration brought to you by extreme speeds and tight corners while driving on all kinds of terrains? Buckle your seatbelt, you’re in for a heck of a ride.
DiRT4 is a rally-themed racing game, developed and published by Codemasters, and was released world-wide on 9 June 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The announcement of the game came in January 2017, so enthusiasts of the game didn’t have to wait too long; although, the features that the game promised was worth getting excited over. DiRT 4 is the sixth title in the Colin McRae Rally series to carry the Dirt name, and is the twelfth installment to the Colin McRae series.
I’m not much of a Rally racing enthusiast, and didn’t think I would be much for playing a Rally-racing game, but not long into my first race on the Gravel roads in Michigan USA, where the first Stage was, I found that I was enjoying this new challenge set before me as I listened to my co-drivers issuing warnings and instructions to which I followed to the letter at first. After getting a hang of the handling and cornering depending on the terrains, I tried to push just a bit further beyond what the instructions recommended, and this is where I started to really enjoy my rally experience. DiRT4 requires no story to keep my entertained, which I was amazed at, because it is usually the story that draws me into a game. This time, it was the challenge that drew me in.
When you start the game, it gives you a demo of the controls, and what the purpose of the co-driver is. I’m used to seeing a map in the bottom-right or -left corner of my screen, so imagine my dismay when I learn that I have someone next to me telling me how the roads are going to be twisting and turning and that I need to listen to him/her to be able to gauge how I need to drive. It was a completely new experience, which I ended up growing fond of pretty quickly. The game features co-driver and commentator voice work from professional co-drivers Nicky Grist and Jen Horsey, so you can imagine how upbeat and pleasant their instructions are while driving. Nothing would be more distracting than an irritating voice or unclear commands. This made the experience so much more enjoyable and I genuinely felt proud of the teamwork, despite the fact that it was a pre-recorded voice that I was working with.
Having not played any Rally type games, I started myself on the Racer difficulty, which is the easiest difficulty setting, but still has a +73% difficulty rating oddly enough. Still, it was a great setting to start off with. After the aforementioned demo, you get taken to the DiRT Academy, where you have a wide open map with all kinds of terrain to practice on and to learn how to do sharp turns and to successfully take corners without a scratch. These tutorials are done through a menu that you can only access within DiRT Academy, so be sure to practice them all before you take your first Stage. During the tutorials, the game takes over for you during the first lap, showing you how to do it, while a narrator instructs you of the appropriate actions that need to be taken. After the first lap, you take over and practice, practice, practice! You can do this as many times as you like until you feel satisfied with the gist of it, or have perfected it.
All The Features!
After the tutorials, you’re then ready to take the Stage! When you’re at the event, you’re taken to the Service Area where you can manage all kinds of settings, such as Upgrading your Vehicle when you’ve purchased the appropriate Grade licences, Tuning your Vehicle where you can tune your Breaks to have higher or lower braking force, changing Differential Locks, adjusting at which speeds your Gears should change (if you’re playing on Automatic, like I was), changing the Damping to be Firmer or Softer on Bumps or Rebound rate, and adjust the Springs to be able to handle all sorts of situations. You’re also able to view the other Entrants, their Nationalities and the Vehicle types. If you have Sponsors, you can review the Targets they’ve set for you here too. There is also Track Briefing where you can view the layout of the map, the weather, terrain type, time of day, etc. You also get the Options where you can change Game Preferences, Input, Graphics, and Audio. Lastly, but not least, you’re able to Practice on the race track or do a short stint of the Rally track to get a feel for the terrain.
As time went on, I changed my difficulty settings to Pro, and even went as far as turning off the Exterior Cameras to further increase the difficulty rating to +81% to be able to please my Sponsors further and get more money from winning Events. After some time spent in Rally, I unlocked the Land Rush, which is where you get pitted against the AI on the same race track at the same time. Muddy terrains await you on this as you drive Trucks or Buggies or Karts during the Events. I have to admit though, I hated the CrossKart races… It took me ages to figure out how to handle the Kart and not have it spin out on me after every corner, forcing me to reset more times than I’d like to admit. Eventually, with a combination of Tuning the Vehicle and Practice, I managed alright. It still is my least favourite Event of all time in the game.
My all-time favourite, however, is the Rally Cross Racing Events! Being pitted against other Racers on Asphalt race tracks during this event was better than the Land Rush in my opinion, made all that more interesting by the rule that dictates you need to take a Joker Lap during the course of the race. Oh, and what makes it even funner is the amount of contact made with other cars during the race. The amount of times other drivers tried bumping me out of the way and failing as they end up swerving and losing control made me giggle too many times. One time, a guy jumped the start of the race, and was forced to take two Joker Laps. Needless to say, he ended up finishing last.
After Rally Cross, you unlock Historic Rally, which is pretty much the same as the Standard Rally, but you race with really old cars kitted out to do Rally races in. These are also pretty fun, but has it’s difficulties too. I won’t spoil too much here, though. During the course of your Career, you can buy Vehicles for your own Team, and customise it to your liking in the Branding and Sponsors screen. You only have a limited number of space in your Garage at first, which is why you will need to Upgrade your Facilities in the My Team menu, to be able to buy more Vehicles for future races. If you cannot afford a Vehicle for a specific race, other Teams will sponsor you and let you drive their Vehicles, but they take a large cut of your winning moneys. Other Facilities you can upgrade are Accommodation; for a larger Team of Engineers, Catering and Lounges, to improve their overall moods and traits, Logistics, VIP Suite, Workshop, R&D Department, etc. which all play an integral part in the game. Then you can recruit Staff for various positions in the Staff screen inside the My Team menu.
I am not a Rally Racing-game enthusiast, but I greatly enjoyed my experience with DiRT4, more so than I ever would have imagined. The graphics aren’t phenomenal in terms of the environments, there are a few pixelation on trees for example, but the Vehicles are rendered so beautifully that it’s forgivable. The collection of music is also enjoyable in the menus inbetween races and in the Service Area. The challenge presented by every race track was unique and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Overall, I enjoyed this Rally-racer and am still aiming to finish every Event in first. At the time of posting this review, you can buy DiRT4 from BTGames for R465.00 on PC, and R825.00 on PS4 and XBox One.