Recently released on Steam Early Access, Codemasters' DiRT Rally was the answer to many player's prayers. Not since the Colin McRae Rally days have we seen a rally game as pure as DiRT Rally from Codemasters – compared to recent Dirt entries, this makes a complete u-turn back back to Codemasters' white rallying roots, with nothing but you versus the elements in some white knuckle time trial stages set in three locations: Greece, Wales and Monte Carlo. It also represents Codemasters' first stab at a full-on simulation.
Our first look at DiRT Rally takes us to the gravely stages of Greece, as Alan takes a break from a certain game that's been taking up so much of our gaming time lately to take Dirt Rally for a spin on the TeamVVV test rig triple screen setup.
Despite running on the previous EGO engine (the brand new EGO engine is being saved for F1 2015), Dirt Rally looks stunning on a powerful PC, delivering smooth performance, superb detail and a sense of scale to the stages that's often missing in rally games. Likewise, the audio is eceptional – on PC, the engine sounds are right up there with Project CARS and RaceRoom Racing Experience.
But there's a flaw that immediately stands out: where is the sense of speed? Hurtling at 100mph through narrow crests metres away from a cliff edge should be edge-of-your-seat exhilerating, but here it looks like a casual Sunday drive. The accuracy of the co-driver's pace notes are also called into question.
Still, these setbacks don't mean you should disregard Dirt Rally. Afterall, it's still work-in-progress, and the whole point of Early Access is that it gives the developers a chance to gather feedback and continually improve the game up until the final release, so there's still lots of time to make any necessary changes.
With additional cars and tracks on the horizon, including the much-anticipated Pikes Peak just around the corner, DiRT Rally has the potential to become something special for rally gamers pining for a return to rally simulations as good as Richard Burns Rally.
Support TeamVVV on Patreon: www.patreon.com/TeamVVV