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DiRT Rally 2.0

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 28 - 2019

DiRTy driving.

Codemasters have been making rally driving games for ages now, challenging players to drive at high speed across loose and uneven surfaces as they attempt to finish a stage with a winning time. They were fun, accessible driving experiences that could be enjoyed by players of any skill level, and were just as entertaining when finishing a perfect stage as when the car was plummeting off a cliff. However, this all changed with the launch of DiRT Rally, which took a much more serious stance and became far more rally sim than arcade racer. All of a sudden the arcade racers could no longer compete, and serious time had to be invested to master the hardcore racing. Despite shunning the less able players, or those who could not spend hours mastering the game, DiRT Rally proved extremely popular, and so it will come as no surprise to anyone that a sequel is now available. DiRT Rally 2.0 is more of the same, with the obvious improvements that come from evolving a series. Expect frustration, expect the smallest mistake to make the biggest difference, and don’t expect to win. DiRT Rally 2.0 will chew you up and spit you out. But maybe, just maybe, after hours of driving, you won’t come last, and you can feel good about that.

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DiRT Rally 2.0 is a rally driving sim, which mostly means driving very fast along a route that could be gravel, dirt or asphalt, taking each corner at exactly the right speed in order to achieve the fastest time possible. The ever-present co-driver will guide the player as best they can, and the player will have to deal with additional complications such as the weather and time of day, be it rain at night, or clear skies as the sun is just on the horizon enough to obscure the way forward. The sim side comes from the fact that the game is unforgiving of any mistakes, even something as small as braking just that little bit too much on a corner, which could lead to dropping more than a few places on the leaderboard. It also means that the player will have to deal with the cost of their mistakes in other ways than just the time it takes to finish a stage, such as having to make repairs.

The gamer requires some serious concentration, and as such does not present itself well to newcomers. Hell, there isn’t even any kind of tutorial. However, for those new to the game, or perhaps just not that invested, there are various options to take some of the edge off. Various assists can be turned on to slightly take the edge off, and progressing through the career can provide the funds required to upgrade the team staff for some extra help. But don’t expect the game to hold your hand, or provide one of those handy rewind buttons that are popular nowadays, as any concessions the game makes in the name of accessibility are just token gestures, and the hardcore racing sim will remain front and centre.

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Most players will likely spend their time in the DiRT Rally 2.0 career mode, which I have come to know as the “failed career mode”, due to my inability to actually win a race. Perhaps those who play racing games have been spoilt as they expect to come first in every race. For this game, it is nice not to be last, and each place further up the board is a hard-fought victory. Thankfully, the player doesn’t need to win in order to earn some money, which can then be used to buy new cars, upgrades, or even new staff for various benefits. There is no fluff in the career mode, it is simply about competing in the various championships and then earning some cash to compete in some more. It does what it needs to, racing sims are not about the bells and whistles, but the realism.

And that realism comes in spades with the very realistic visuals and the superb handling. These are the two areas where the game has really improved over the previous title. Everything in DiRT Rally 2.0 looks absolutely stunning, from the cars and the environments, to the little effects like the sunlight or dust in the air. Even driving at night is incredibly impressive as the player struggles to navigate the track, guided only by the co-driver and what they can see with the headlights. The cars really seem to handle realistically too, giving the proper feedback that allows the player to adjust their driving according to the surface conditions and even the weather. DiRT Rally 2.0 is probably the most realistic driving experience I have come across on console, which just goes to prove that I will never be a professional rally driver.

Rallycross also makes an appearance in the DiRT Rally 2.0 package, giving players the chance to actually race head to head against other cars. There are a variety of challenges as well, testing the players skills against both AI and other racers. The mechanics out there can also get their greasy hands on all manner of tweaking under the hood, messing around with everything that makes the car go in an attempt to squeeze that little bit extra performance out of it, although for the novice mechanics there is just as much chance of making the car worse. While some more content would have been nice out of the gate, and before the DLC cycle kicks in, what is here in DiRT Rally 2.0 is plentiful enough for the racing sim fans.

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While the casual racing fans will have to look elsewhere for their rally driving kicks, for the more serious rally fans, DiRT Rally 2.0 really is the place to be. The stunning visuals and sublime handling combine with the brutal difficulty to make an incredibly realistic experience. The game may limit its audience, but for any dedicated rally fan that is willing to put in the time and work, DiRT Rally 2.0 will be the ultimate experience.




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