DiRT Rally 2.0 review - Team VVV

Reviews DiRT Rally 2.0 review

Reviews

Kevin Dooley

News Editor

Posted on

Game: DiRT Rally 2.0

Platform: PC, PS4, XBox One

Publisher: Codemasters

Release Date: 26/02/2019

Codemasters wowed us all when they simultaneously announced and released DiRT Rally through Steam Early Access back in 2014. This wasn’t just the latest title in the long-running DiRT series but a standalone thoroughbred rally simulation aimed to test the limits of player skill.

After the somewhat underwhelming DiRT 4 in 2017, Codemasters is back with the second outing of their “dark souls of rally games” with DiRT Rally 2.0. The original DiRT Rally set the foundations, however, can the sequel fully realise its potential to become one of the most respected sim racers ever released?

Rally racing

For the most part, it feels good to get behind the wheel of any of DiRT Rally 2.0‘s 50 cars. Most seem believable enough and are satisfying to drive (whether using a wheel or a controller) thanks to an in-depth physics model which will test the skills of even the most seasoned of rally veterans. That said, using the Thrustmaster T300 wheel, there was a noticeable lack of force feedback detail across many of the title’s vehicles.

All cars are faithfully reproduced in impressive detail and are accompanied by an authentic audio package giving you a great idea of what it would be like to drive these machines for real. That said, key environmental sounds appear missing.

Classic car fans are well catered for with the likes of the Audi Sport Quattro, Ford Escort Mk II, Lancia Stratos, and Ford RS 200 to name a few. The Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and Ford Escort RS Cosworth and a few others represent the more modern iconic cars: if you’ve played either DiRT Rally or DiRT 4 you’ll have a good idea what to expect here.

You’ll be thrown in the deep end as there are no tutorials in DiRT Rally 2.0 which may put off newcomers. Once you’ve competed in your first stages in a low-powered car you’ll have no doubt contended with pounding rain, a punctured tyre, and broken headlights. DiRT Rally 2.0 can be as much about survival as coming first and that’s certainly not a bad thing.

The damage model can throw up some dilemmas too: do you stop to change the tyres incurring a one minute time penalty or do you struggle on to the finish line? DiRT Rally 2.0 will toss these predicaments at you from time to time adding strategy and unpredictability to proceedings.

Although decent enough, there does seem to be some oddities with the physics in DiRT Rally 2.0. There seems to be a tendency for the rear end of some cars to snap out all too easily on turns, conversely, all cars feel too planted on straight sections: you can fully accelerate and brake hard on a straight piece of road with barely any lateral movement in the cars even with assists off. Also, a distinct lack of understeer was observed on wet tarmac, clearly Codemasters has some fine tuning to do.

Sadly, much like its predecessor, the sense of speed in DiRT Rally 2.0 is lacking – going 100 mph should feel life-threatening but instead feels almost pedestrian. Fortunately, much of the intensity comes from keeping a car’s rear end in check as well as the ongoing fear of sustaining major damage.

Dirt Rally 2.0's full car list revealed

Short-lived career

The rally career feels very bare bones thanks to a lack of rally locations, presentation and general fanfare. After just six rallies – each playing host to four random stages – you’ll have completed your journey. To say six locations is underwhelming is an understatement; DiRT Rally 2.0 is clearly falling into the same traps that the original did.

Off the track, you can unlock different stages of engine tuning along with increasing the durability of components such as brakes and suspension. Staff members can be trained to be more efficient, or you can replace current members as well as hire some additional staff which come with benefits such as reducing repair times.

Once unlocked, you can tune your car from the service area. As expected, you can adjust parameters like toe, camber, brake bias, gearing, ride height etc. Each component comes with a handy description to let you know what each change will do. Car setups can be saved and loaded as needed.

After you’ve completed a couple of stages, you’ll have the chance to make repairs to your car. Each repair eats into your 30 minute time allowance so you may have to do a fix here and there and run the next stage with some damaged parts. You can also select soft, medium or hard tyre compounds which provide different levels of performance and durability.

You can, of course, opt for a rallycross career – this is the officially licensed game of the FIA World Rallycross Championship after all. The career consists of eight locations and is good fun thanks to the rallycross cars having a reasonable sense of weight – something that was missing from DiRT 4. You’ll compete in four heats before taking on the semi-final and final events. Oddly, there are no settings to reduce the full format as racing at the same rallycross track six times in a row can feel mind-numbing.

Visual masterpiece

DiRT Rally 2.0 looks fantastic with visuals which raise the bar for other rally titles to match. Environments are well detailed and believable, and whether you’re racing in dense forest, besides large open fields or amongst green rolling hills the frame rate remains silky smooth – a fantastic technical achievement by the development team.

However, at certain times of day, the intense yellow sunlight can blur the visuals a little making for an unusual scene. As amazing as the rain puddles look on the surface, in heavy rain conditions I found there to be too much white sheen on the environment breaking the immersion slightly.

Sadly, most environments also lack a wow factor, you’ll race the entire track roster and be hard pressed to remember the majority of tracks. You’ll also notice repetition in track sections – something we’ve seen in V-Rally 4 – bringing the game’s longevity into question.

Besides the career mode, DiRT Rally 2.0 offers a “free play” section allowing you to race your chosen car across any of the title’s rally and rallycross locations either via a championship or a single time trial event.

Players can also compete in daily and weekly challenges in both rally and rallycross disciplines in exchange for in-game cash rewards and leaderboard bragging rights.

DiRT Rally 2.0 picks up from where DiRT Rally left off by providing an authentic rally experience. Before long you’ll incur punctures, slam into the odd tree, and dent every conceivable body panel – stick with it though and you’ll find an experience that is rewarding and fun.

Unfortunately, DiRT Rally 2.0 falls short of greatness due to a lack of rally locations making you feel like you’re only taking part in half of a world rally series – tracks like Monte Carlo, Finland and Sweden are sorely missing. Couple this with the repetition found in stages and I am once again left questioning the longevity of a DiRT Rally title. Brilliant in places, underwhelming in others, DiRT Rally 2.0 is still a must-own title for any self-respecting petrol head.

Our Review

8 /10

The good

  • Amazing visuals
  • Decent car audio
  • Very detailed car models
  • Challenging & engaging gameplay

The bad

  • Not enough tracks
  • Barebones career
  • Some cars feel unintuitive
  • Samey environments

 

Summary

DiRT Rally 2.0 picks up from where DiRT Rally left off by providing an authentic rally experience. Before long you’ll incur punctures, slam into the odd tree, and dent every conceivable body panel – stick with it though and you’ll find an experience that is rewarding and fun.

Unfortunately, DiRT Rally 2.0 falls short of greatness due to a lack of rally locations which makes you feel like you’re only taking part in half of a world rally -tracks like Monte Carlo, Finland and Sweden are sorely missing. Couple this with the repetition found in stages and I am once again left questioning the longevity of a DiRT Rally title. Brilliant in places, underwhelming in others, DiRT Rally 2.0 is still a must-own title for any petrol head.

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