From high profile releases like Forza Horizon 3, the resurgence of rally games with DiRT Rally and the start of the console sim racing saturation with the long-awaited arrival of Assetto Corsa, 2016 was a transformative year for racing games. To celebrate, we’re hosting our first ever Team VVV Racing Game of the Year Awards (something we’ve been meaning to do for years) to recognise achievements in racing gaming, from best graphics and sound, to car lists, handling and indie titles, we’ve got everything covered.
Best dirt racing game
After a long hiatus (apart from the annual WRC series), rally games made a colossal comeback in 2016, with not one, not two, but three rally games, each offering decidedly different experiences catering to different audiences.
Out of all the rally games released in 2016, Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO is by far the most comprehensive. The wealth of content is unprecedented, with a rich roster of rally cars spanning multiple eras, authentically designed stages, and an engaging career mode which took you on a personal journey reliving Sebastien Loeb’s exhaustive career, complete with documentary-style interviews with the man himself.
A lack of polish ultimately lets it down with its lackluster visuals and sound effects, but that doesn’t mean you should write off. Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO the most complete rally game released in a very long time, and one of Milestone’s most underrated gems.
WRC 6 sits on the opposite side of the spectrum. Being an officially licensed game, Kylotonn Games deliberately designed the game to be less demanding than its competitors so it wouuld appeal to a mass audience. And that’s just fine – we need a rally game for casual gamers as well as hardcore purists.
Anyone can chuck the cars into corners and enjoy some opposite lock without too much effort, but there’s still enough challenge thanks to the narrower stages. In many respects, WRC 6 is arguably the most fun rally game to play out of them all. As we stated in our review, WRC 6 is a markedly better game than its predecessor and the best WRC game in years.
Winner: DiRT Rally
DiRT Rally may not have as much content as its competitors (seriously, some DLC is long overdue), but as a pure adrenaline rush, nothing can compete. There are no lifelines in DiRT Rally: you can’t rewind time, which forces you to live with the consequences of your mistakes. This is a rally game that will legitimately make you sweat when you approach a blind corner.
The graphics live up to the high standards you expect from a Codemasters game, as do the realistic driving physics and stage designs. However, as we’ve already discussed, it’s the outstanding sound design that really sets DiRT Rally apart, from the authentic exhaust notes and the nerve-racking environmental sounds such as stones chipping away at the bodywork, to the convincing co-driver voiced by the game’s Chief Designer Paul Coleman who does it all for real.
The demanding difficulty level may not be for everyone, but these elements combine to make DiRT Rally a phenomenal package that every rally fan should experience. Should the inevitable sequel add more content to this solid foundation, Codemasters will no doubt continue to be a formidable force in the rally game genre.
Do you agree with our winner? Let us know in the comments below.