Well, I have done it. I have found one of my favourite racing games of all time. No, not Dirt 4. Alas this new instalment to the series has merely helped me confirm two thoughts. That Dirt 3 was one of the worst racing games I’ve played and Dirt 2 is easily one of the best.
Dirt 4 does what it aims for excellently. Simply three modes all compiled is what awaits you in your career as new driver on the scene. Each event can be completed with either a car in your garage that is in the right class or you can agree to race for a different motorsport team.
If you choose to race with your own team you’ll take all the winnings but pay all the costs for the repairs. Dirt 4 has added this fantastic feature of running your own motorsport team, from facilities and staff to livery and sponsors. It makes each win that little bit sweeter and encourages you to try and not write your car off, after all the costs would be coming out of your war chest.
4’s failure to me is a lack of variety. I’ll admit that the ability to choose between the challenging yet fun Gamer mode or the purist’s heaven in Simulation mode is a fantastic idea for games of this ilk. However, Only 3 true race types is an issue for me. Landrush, Rallycross and Rally or Historic Rally. Don’t get me wrong each one is enjoyable but it’s nothing compared to the 5 race types with a further 3 special variations that you found in Dirt 2. The World Tour in Dirt 2 was a fluid journey though the continents and exciting races. Playing Dirt 4 made me miss the Trailblazer, Domination and Last Man Standing races. In fact it made me pick up my old copy of the 2009 game and enjoy the excitement all over again.
Pure rallying is much better in this instalment than any before and is clearly the main focus of this game based on the additional Historic Rally and the fact that the rally portion of the game is considerably longer than the circuit based races. The feel of each terrain and kind of weather is palpable with the braking point shifting and the tire grip loosening. It is a thrill that a petrolhead will feel but I fear an ordinary gamer may not, even when they stick it in Gamer mode.
The circuit races have lost a certain level of excitement from the days of Ken Block and Tanner Faust racing alongside you but they seem more pure and true to life. After all this is the official FIA Rallycross game. I fear this is a mere license that upon chasing has caused the game to lose the appeal it used to have. Landrush is a speedy affair with the smallest contact with your opponents could send you flying through the tire wall. They are less tense than the Rally but little can be more fun that your aggression causing someone else to spin off the track even if it slows you up a little.
Dirt is now a series far more for the purist, someone who wants to hit the racing line without fail and find their ultimate braking point. I am one of these people to an extent but I found more fun in the massive range of cars, tracks and game modes in the second Dirt game.
Dirt 4 is without doubt the finest rallying sim of all time. Possibly until GT Sport or Project Cars 2 release soon it will be the finest racing sim full stop. It does however lack the fun and excitement of its predecessors. I can’t help but feel that it would have benefited from not being a part of the Dirt Series. If Codemasters tried to not cater for two groups with one game. Keep Dirt for one of them and give a new series to the other.